Can you substitute coconut oil for olive oil?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you substitute coconut oil for olive oil?”, and what are the substitutes for coconut oil?

Can you substitute coconut oil for olive oil?

Yes, you can substitute coconut oil for olive oil. The swap can be made in a 1:1 ratio. Coconut oil has a naturally sweet flavor. 

Mediterranean countries remain the main olive producers, led by Spain, Italy, and Greece. The European Union is responsible for 70% of the global olive production, generating a production value of 7000 million euros each year, becoming a key factor for the agro-industrial sector development and thus, a social and economic engine for the EU southern regions (1).

Therefore, it is best used in recipes that complement the flavor of the oil as in baking. But you can also use it for sauteing because warm temperatures change the flavor profile of coconut oil. 

You can also use coconut oil in sauces such as pesto to mask its naturally sweet flavor. Instead of olive oil, you can toss your cooked pasta in coconut oil to keep the pasta from sticking. But you should know that uncooked coconut oil will impart a distinct flavor to the pasta. 

Coconut oil can also be substituted for olive oil in salad dressings. However, not all types of salad dressings will gracefully incorporate the flavor of coconut oil. The key is to use the coconut oil sparingly or experiment to see what goes best with coconut oil.

Substitutes for coconut oil

Butter 

Butter is a high-fat alternative to coconut oil. Unless you have a dairy intolerance or follow a vegan diet, this option works for you. 

Butter performs particularly well in baking where it imparts moisture, tenderness, richness, and chewiness to the finished product. Since butter is a high-fat and high-cholesterol substitute, you shouldn’t use it in excessive amounts.

According to the USDA, one tablespoon of butter (14 g/0.5 oz) produces 420 kJ (100 kcal), all from fat, 11 g (0.4 oz) of which 7 g (0.25 oz) are saturated fats and 30 mg (0.46 g) are cholesterol. In other words, butter consists mostly of saturated fat and is a significant source of dietary cholesterol. For these reasons, butter has been generally considered to be a contributor to health problems, especially heart disease (2).

Grapeseed oil

Grapeseed is an excellent alternative to coconut oil for dressings, frying, or even roasting. Grapeseed oil has a high smoke point and a neutral flavor, due to which it can pretty much replace any time of vegetable oil.

Grapeseed oil protects the heart and reduces blood cholesterol levels. This property is ascribed to its healthy fatty acid content. Grapeseed oils contain a good amount of healthy polyunsaturated fats, i.e omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids and vitamin E.

Grape seed oil is a by-product of the winemaking industry, with good benefits to human health. Numerous in vitro and in vivo evidences suggest cardioprotective and anticancer effects of grape seed oil (3).

Sunflower oil 

The nutritional profile of sunflower oil is not that impressive but it is readily available and has a neutral flavor. The high smoke point of sunflower oil makes it the best pick for frying or roasting. It is not desirable for baking.

However, because sunflower oil more susceptible to oxidation due to its higher contents of unsaturated acid i,e linoleic acid, it can undergo oxidation rapidly by repeated frying at high temperature in presence of oxygen from air and water from food, resulting a series of degradation reaction produced variety of decomposed compounds along with aldehyde and ketones (4).

Last but not the least, sunflower oil is a rich source of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a very powerful antioxidant that has great antimicrobial properties and keeps the blood vessels healthy.  The principal fatty acids component of sunflower oil includes oleic, stearic, linoleic, and palmitic acid. Also, sunflower oil contains carotenoids, waxes, lecithin, and tocopherols (5). 

Almond oil 

Almond oil is a bit expensive but it is a good substitute for coconut oil in baking. The mild nutty flavor of the almond oil adds flavor to your baked goods and enhances their sweetness. Almond oil protects the heart due to its low saturated fat content. 

Several studies have specifically reported that consumption of almonds reduces total and LDL cholesterol in plasma (8).

Avocado oil 

Avocado oil is the best substitute for coconut oil if you want to use it to make curries, salads, and soups. It has a mild flavor and a creamy texture that adds to the richness of your dishes.

The high smoke point of avocado oil makes it a desirable oil for frying, roasting, grilling, and baking. Avocado oil is a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids that have remarkable anti-inflammatory properties. Avocado oil contains approximately twice as much lutein as olive oil, an antioxidant important for eye health (6).

Hemp seed oil

Research is undergoing on the health benefits of hemp seed oil. So far, it has been found to contain all the essential amino acids. 

A single serving of hemp seed oil provides a whopping 10g of protein. This is a particularly useful piece of information for individuals that follow a high protein or keto diet. Good-quality, cold-pressed hemp seed oil has a clear green to olive color, and ideally possesses a fresh nutty taste and smell. It is an exceptionally rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (7).

Hemp seed is best used chilled or at room temperature. Heat destroys the nutrients of hemp seed oil. Therefore, it is ideal for making sauces, dips, marinades, pesto, etc.

Hazelnut oil

Hazelnut lovers may already have heard about this oil and its uses. For those of you who do not know, hazelnut oil is a great swap for coconut oil in baking. The mildly sweet and nutty flavor of the hazelnut oil adds to the goodness of baked products.

Due to a relatively high thermal stabilitysmoke point, hazelnut oil can also be used for frying, grilling, and roasting. Hazelnut oil has a rich content of monounsaturated fatty acids that makes it ideal for weight loss. In studies, hazelnut oil was found better in stability than corn and sunflower oils (9).

Can you substitute olive oil for coconut oil?

Swapping the coconut oil with olive oil for sauteing works fine. But it does not work the same way in baking. The sweet flavor of coconut oil compliments the sweetness of baked products like brownies, cakes, and cookies that olive oil can’t do. 

However, if you run out of options, you can use olive oil as a substitute by increasing the sugar amount in the recipe.

Other FAQs about Oils that you may be interested in.

Can you use oil in an instant pot?

Can you use olive oil in ceramic pans?

Can you make a cake with olive oil?

Can you use olive oil to tan?

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question “Can you substitute coconut oil for olive oil?”, and what are the substitutes for coconut oil?

References

  1. Jimenez-Lopez C, Carpena M, Lourenço-Lopes C, et al. Bioactive Compounds and Quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Foods. 2020 9, 1014.  
  2. Deosarkar, S. S., C. D. Khedkar, and S. D. Kalyankar. Butter: manufacture. Encyclopedia of Food and Health. 2016, 529-534.  
  3. Garavaglia, Juliano, et al. Grape seed oil compounds: Biological and chemical actions for health. Nutr metab insight, 2016, 9, NMI-S32910.
  4. Akhtar, H., et al. Effect of antioxidants on stability, nutritional values of refined sunflower oil during accelerated storage and thermal oxidation in frying. Banglad J Scient Ind Res, 2012, 47, 223-230.
  5. Adeleke, Bartholomew Saanu, and Olubukola Oluranti Babalola. Oilseed crop sunflower (Helianthus annuus) as a source of food: Nutritional and health benefits. Food Sci Nutr, 2020, 8, 4666-4684.
  6. Woolf, Allan, et al. Avocado oil. Gourmet and health-promoting specialty oils. AOCS Press, 2009. 73-125.
  7. Callaway, Jace C., and David W. Pate. Hempseed oil. Gourmet and health-promoting specialty oils. AOCS Press, 2009. 185-213.
  8. Hyson, Dianne A., Barbara O. Schneeman, and Paul A. Davis. Almonds and almond oil have similar effects on plasma lipids and LDL oxidation in healthy men and women. J nutr, 2002, 132, 703-707.
  9. Tekin, Leyla, Mehmet Seckin Aday, and Emin Yilmaz. Physicochemical changes in hazelnut, olive pomace, grapeseed and sunflower oils heated at frying temperatures. Food sci technol res, 2009, 15, 519-524.