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Butter vs Coconut oil - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Butter
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Coconut oil

Introduction

Butter is a dairy product processed from cow milk. When refrigerated it’s in a solid form, however, at room temperature, it becomes a semi-solid emulsion. It has various forms of usage such as baking, frying, cooking, and used as a spread. Nearly all gastronomic cuisines use butter while preparing dishes. 

On the other hand, coconut oil is a plant-based oil. It is the result of the processing of the coconut’s white part known as the flesh. At room temperature, it is in a semi-liquid state, mostly liquid with some solid parts suspended in it. Coconut oil is not as abundant in every region given that it produced from coconuts, a fruit that is found in tropical regions. It is commonly used in Indian and Filipino cuisines as an alternative to butter. 

In this article, the nutritional content, health impact, downsides, usage accessibility, and myths will be discussed in detail.

Nutritional content content

Butter is a dairy product that has low amounts of protein 0.9g in 100 grams to be specific. It has high amounts of fats, 81g per 100 grams, of which 50g are saturated fatty acids.

Another aspect that should be considered when consuming butter is the amount of cholesterol in it. Butter contains 215 mg of cholesterol which is 71% of the daily recommended amount

It is also good to note that butter has 19mg of choline per 100 grams, however, this amount is not remarkable relative to the daily recommended value.

The carbohydrate content in butter is negligible.

When it comes to coconut oil, it is a plant-based oil that contains negligible amounts of cholesterol. However, coconut oil has high amounts for saturated fatty acids at 82g in 100g which is 410% of the daily recommended value. In addition to this, coconut oil is considered to be one of the oils that have remarkable amounts of trans fats

Similar to butter coconut oil is negligible in its carbohydrate content. 

Vitamin content comparison

Butter is considered among foods that contain high amounts of vitamin A at 2500UI. It also contains considerable amounts of vitamin E and K, and a small amount of vitamin B12.

Coconut oil, on the other hand, has negligible amounts of any vitamins

Mineral content comparison

Given that butter is a dairy product, it contains calcium (24 mg per 100g). It also contains selenium and sodium, however, in small amounts. 

Coconut oil has a negligible mineral profile. 

Health impact

Butter and coconut oil have linoleic acid as a component in their fat profile. Linoleic acid is known to reduce obesity. (1)

Butter contains butyric acid which has proven to be a very beneficial compound in food intake. Butyric acid consumed by individuals who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), has shown a decrease in symptoms. This is due to the fact that butyric acid has anti-inflammatory and peristalsis inducing characteristics, peristalsis is the activity of pushing food through the digestive system. (2)

Butyric acid is also a beneficial compound for patients who suffer from acute and chronic constipation. (3)

Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which is a fatty acid, reduces the risk of developing enlarged prostate and prostatic cancer. (4)

For individuals who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it was observed that a diet with coconut oil showed improvement in the main cognitive functions. (5)

Downsides

Butter and coconut oil are among foods that contain high amounts of saturated fatty acids, they lead to increased concentration of Low-density lipoproteins in the blood (LDL). For individuals who have a family history or already diagnosed with blood lipid disorders should be careful while consuming butter and coconut oil. (6)(7)

Butter and coconut oil are considered to be high caloric foods. Butter has 717 calories per 100g and coconut oil has 862 calories per 100g. So while consuming both, butter or coconut oil, one must be careful of the daily caloric intake. 

Usage and accessibility

Butter has different usages in cuisines. For instance, it can be used as a spread accompanied by bread and jam. However, the content of carbohydrates from the jam and bread, and the content of saturated fats from the butter should be taken into consideration.
Butter can also be used for cooking purposes, sauce making, and pan-frying. 

Coconut oil can be used for cooking purposes as a vegan alternative to butter. It is also used for cooking and making vegan mayonnaise.
Coconut oil has an additional advantage on butter since it can be safely used for cooking at high temperatures.

Another aspect of coconut oil is that it can be used as a skin moisturizer and protection against UV. Even though using coconut oil as moisturiser has no nutritional benefits, it has medical importance. 

Myths

Coconut oil is a healthy and safe oil to consume:

Coconut oil is famously used in the vegan community and individuals who follow the keto diet. It is claimed to be a healthy fat to consume. However, if coconut oil is not consumed in moderate amounts, 2-3 tablespoons a day at most, it increases the risk of high LDL concentrations in the blood

Replace carbohydrates with fats:

This is highlighted in the keto community mostly. When carbohydrates are eliminated from the diet and replaced with fats which are mostly saturated fats like butter or coconut oil it increases the risks of cardiovascular disease. (8)

Summary

In summary, butter and coconut oil are high caloric foods and are high in saturated fats. While butter is high in cholesterol, coconut oil has negligible amounts of cholesterol. Butter is rich in vitamin A and calcium, while coconut oil has negligible amounts of vitamins and minerals.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4574006/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4027835/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5497138/#cit0020
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6201718 
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30056419/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26135349/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29974400/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5492032/
Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Profession: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: November 29, 2020

Infographic

Butter vs Coconut oil infographic
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Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Butter
6
:
Contains more Calcium +2300%
Contains more Potassium +∞%
Contains more Magnesium +∞%
Contains more Copper +∞%
Contains more Zinc +350%
Contains more Phosphorus +∞%
Contains more Iron +150%
Contains less Sodium -100%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 1% 8% 3% 2% 6% 3% 11% 2%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 2% 1% 0% 0% 0% 1% 0% 0%
Contains more Calcium +2300%
Contains more Potassium +∞%
Contains more Magnesium +∞%
Contains more Copper +∞%
Contains more Zinc +350%
Contains more Phosphorus +∞%
Contains more Iron +150%
Contains less Sodium -100%

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Butter
10
:
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin E +2009.1%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin K +1066.7%
Contains more Folate +∞%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 0% 150% 47% 0% 2% 8% 1% 7% 1% 22% 18% 3%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 0% 0% 3% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 2% 0%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin E +2009.1%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin K +1066.7%
Contains more Folate +∞%

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
21
Butter
0
Coconut oil
Mineral Summary Score
4
Butter
0
Coconut oil

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
5%
Butter
0%
Coconut oil
Carbohydrates
0%
Butter
0%
Coconut oil
Fats
374%
Butter
457%
Coconut oil

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Butter Coconut oil
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in glycemic index Equal

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Butter Coconut oil
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low glycemic index diet Equal

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Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Coconut oil
Coconut oil is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 215mg)
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Coconut oil
Coconut oil is lower in Sugar (difference - 0.06g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Coconut oil
Coconut oil contains less Sodium (difference - 11mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Butter
Butter is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 31.986g)
Which food is cheaper?
Butter
Butter is cheaper (difference - $0.6)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Butter
Butter is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Butter
Butter is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (0)

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Butter Coconut oil Opinion
Calories 717 892 Coconut oil
Protein 0.85 0 Butter
Fats 81.11 99.06 Coconut oil
Vitamin C 0 0
Carbs 0.06 0 Butter
Cholesterol 215 0 Coconut oil
Vitamin D 0 0
Iron 0.02 0.05 Coconut oil
Calcium 24 1 Butter
Potassium 24 0 Butter
Magnesium 2 0 Butter
Sugar 0.06 0 Coconut oil
Fiber 0 0
Copper 0.016 0 Butter
Zinc 0.09 0.02 Butter
Starch
Phosphorus 24 0 Butter
Sodium 11 0 Coconut oil
Vitamin A 2499 0 Butter
Vitamin E 2.32 0.11 Butter
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin B1 0.005 0 Butter
Vitamin B2 0.034 0 Butter
Vitamin B3 0.042 0 Butter
Vitamin B5 0.11 0 Butter
Vitamin B6 0.003 0 Butter
Vitamin B12 0.17 0 Butter
Vitamin K 7 0.6 Butter
Folate 3 0 Butter
Trans Fat 0.028 Butter
Saturated Fat 50.489 82.475 Butter
Monounsaturated Fat 23.43 6.332 Butter
Polyunsaturated fat 3.01 1.702 Butter
Tryptophan 0.012 0 Butter
Threonine 0.038 0 Butter
Isoleucine 0.051 0 Butter
Leucine 0.083 0 Butter
Lysine 0.067 0 Butter
Methionine 0.021 0 Butter
Phenylalanine 0.041 0 Butter
Valine 0.057 0 Butter
Histidine 0.023 0 Butter
Fructose

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Butter - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173430/nutrients
  2. Coconut oil - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171412/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.