Can I substitute coconut oil for olive oil?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can I substitute coconut oil for olive oil?” and will discuss some properties of coconut oil. Moreover, we will discuss why coconut oil is not considered a good alternative to olive oil.

Can I substitute coconut oil for olive oil?

Yes, it is possible to substitute coconut oil for olive oil. 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) exhibits a diverse array of bioactivities primarily due to its robust antioxidant capacity. When integrated into a regular diet, EVOO provides a multitude of health advantages and acts as a preventive measure against various diseases. 

These encompass cardiovascular and vascular conditions, neurodegenerative disorders, cytotoxic ailments, metabolic disorders, inflammatory diseases, and more. (2)

iCoconut oil on the other hand should not be considered a healthy oil. 

Studies have shown that high consumption of coconut oil significantly increases LDL-cholesterol when compared to nontropical vegetable oils. This is primarily due to its notable saturated fat content. 

Therefore, it is advisable to exercise caution and limit the consumption of coconut oil to maintain a heart-healthy diet (1)

Is using coconut oil regularly unhealthy?

Yes. coconut oil does have a high saturated fat content, and so does not contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Consequently, it is advisable to limit the consumption of coconut oil. 

Notably, there is currently no substantial evidence to support the notion that consuming coconut oil, as opposed to unsaturated oils, improves lipid profiles or reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. (1)

What are the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil?

The exceptional health benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) can be attributed to its functional compounds, which include polyphenols, tocopherols, carotenoids, sterols, fatty acids, squalene, and more. 

The lipid fraction of EVOO possesses protective properties against coronary, autoimmune, and inflammatory disorders. It also exhibits anti-thrombotic effects and aids in regulating blood pressure.

Apart from the lipid fraction, EVOO contains tocopherols and polyphenols, albeit in smaller quantities. Nevertheless, these compounds significantly contribute to the powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of EVOO, along with other valuable qualities.

Through the provision of substances that can prevent the onset or progression of various diseases, EVOO proves highly beneficial for a wide range of health conditions. These include cardiovascular and circulatory disorders, metabolic disorders, and processes associated with carcinogenesis. (2)

What is the nutritional profile of coconut oil?

Coconut oil consists of approximately 92% saturated fatty acids, 6% monounsaturated fatty acids, and 2% polyunsaturated fatty acids. 

A half cup (100 grams) of fresh coconut contains the following nutritional profile: 354 calories, 15g carbohydrates, 9g fiber, 3g protein, 33g total fat, 30g saturated fat, 1.4g monounsaturated fat, 0.4g polyunsaturated fat, and 0mg cholesterol. (3)

The predominant fatty acid in coconut oil is lauric acid, comprising approximately 48.40%–52.84% of the total fatty acid content. The oil also contains a significant amount of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), which range from 65.7%–71.3%.

The presence of phenolic compounds in coconut oil varies depending on the processing method, and their quantity can be detected to some extent. (4)

What is the nutritional profile of olive oil?

Olive oil is characterized by its high content of monounsaturated oleic acid, comprising 55% to 83% of its composition. Compared to linoleic acid, the predominant polyunsaturated fatty acid found in most vegetable oils, oleic acid is significantly less prone to oxidation, making olive oil more stable. (5)

Virgin olive oil is particularly abundant in monounsaturated fatty acids, as well as phenolic compounds and antioxidants, all of which contribute to its exceptional nutritional value. (6)

Why cook with coconut oil?

Coconut oil possesses a notable advantage in its high level of saturation, which enhances its resistance to oxidation and polymerization. 

This unique characteristic grants coconut oil a higher level of stability compared to other oils, making it well-suited for long-term storage and various cooking applications. 

It is particularly effective for single-use shallow frying. However, it is advisable to avoid using coconut oil for deep-frying, as it has a relatively lower smoke point. (7)

Why cook with olive oil?

When it comes to high heat cooking, particularly in home cooking, virgin olive oil (VOO) is a preferable choice over other vegetable oils, including coconut oil. 

When used within appropriate temperature limits without overheating, VOO undergoes minimal changes and demonstrates performance that is often equal to or even superior to refined vegetable oils. 

This can be attributed to the well-balanced composition of VOO, encompassing both major and minor components. (5)

Throughout the cooking process, specific compounds migrate between virgin olive oil (VOO) and the food being prepared, influencing the final outcomes. When food incorporates antioxidants from VOO, it becomes less susceptible to oxidation, leading to a reduction in the formation of undesirable products.

Furthermore, the transfer of beneficial compounds from the food to VOO during cooking aids in preserving these valuable substances. As a result, their bioaccessibility is enhanced, enabling the body to effectively utilize them. (6)

How coconut oil fares compared with plant oils?

In comparison to cis unsaturated plant oils, coconut oil has the potential to elevate levels of total cholesterol, HDL-C, and LDL-C, although to a lesser extent than butter. However, the impact of coconut oil consumption on the total cholesterol to HDL-C ratio has often been unreported.

Based on the existing body of evidence, it is recommended to replace coconut oil with cis unsaturated fats as a means to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Therefore, there is no substantial support for the popular claims promoting coconut oil as a healthy option for decreasing CVD risk.

Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that coconut oil consistently differs from other saturated fats in terms of its effects on blood lipids and lipoproteins. (8)

Why is healthier cooking with olive oil?

Utilizing extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) for high-heat cooking, such as frying, enhances the quality of dietary fat intake, playing a crucial role in the prevention of cardiovascular and other diseases. This positive impact can be attributed to the favorable fatty acid profile found in EVOO, which contributes to its health benefits.

Furthermore, when frying foods with EVOO, they become enriched with various health-promoting microconstituents, including polar phenolics, squalene, phytosterols, tocopherols, terpenic acids, and thermal/oxidative decomposition products. 

These components have the potential to interact with the constituents of the food, thereby augmenting its nutritional value.

Clinical studies have demonstrated a significant reduction in cardiovascular-related events through the use of EVOO, even when employed for frying. EVOO exhibits beneficial effects and superior protective properties compared to oils like sunflower oil, particularly in preventing DNA oxidative damage. (5) 

Other FAQs about Oils  that you may be interested in.

Can I substitute extra virgin oil for vegetable oil?

Can I use olive oil in a cake?

Can I use olive oil instead of sesame oil?


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can I substitute coconut oil for olive oil?” and discussed some properties of coconut oil. Moreover, we discussed why coconut oil is not considered a good alternative for olive oil.


  1. Neelakantan N, Seah JY, van Dam RM. The Effect of Coconut Oil Consumption on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials. Circulation;141(10):803-14. 2020.
  2. Jimenez-Lopez C, Carpena M, Lourenço-Lopes C, Gallardo-Gomez M, Lorenzo JM, Barba FJ, Prieto MA, Simal-Gandara J. Bioactive Compounds and Quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Foods. 9(8):1014. 2020.
  3. Marcus, J. B. Lipids Basics: Fats and Oils in Foods and Health. Culinary Nutrition, 231–277. 2013.
  4. Ghani NAA, Channip AA, Chok Hwee Hwa P, Ja’afar F, Yasin HM, Usman A. Physicochemical properties, antioxidant capacities, and metal contents of virgin coconut oil produced by wet and dry processes. Food Sci Nutr.6(5):1298-1306. 2018.
  5. Chiou, A., & Kalogeropoulos, N.  Virgin Olive Oil as Frying Oil. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 16(4), 632–646. 2017.
  6. Julián Lozano-Castellón, José Fernando Rinaldi de Alvarenga, Anna Vallverdú-Queralt, Rosa M. Lamuela-Raventós, Cooking with extra-virgin olive oil: A mixture of food components to prevent oxidation and degradation, Trends in Food Science & Technology, 123, 28-36, 2022.
  7. Wallace, T. C.  Health Effects of Coconut Oil—A Narrative Review of Current Evidence. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 1–11. 2018.
  8. Eyres L, Eyres MF, Chisholm A, Brown RC. Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in humans. Nutrition reviews;74(4):267-80. 2016.