Nutritionist Keri Glassman, who regularly shares her expertise on Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, is answering your nutrition, diet and health questions.
Want to know how celebrities are getting their fabulous post-baby bodies? And, if their diet plan is right for you?
This week’s question…
“What is all the noise about this avocado oil? Is it the new coconut oil? How do I choose which one to use?” — Amanda, Phoenix Ariz.
First a little coco recap. We’ve all been a little cuckoo for co-co-nut oil in recent years. From celebs like Angelina Jolie to athletes like Apolo Ohno to fitness gurus like Jillian Michaels, everyone has been jumping on the conga line for spicing up their recipes and improving their beauty regimen. So what’s the big deal with the oil from this tropical wonder? Although it’s rare for vegetable oils to be high in saturated fat, coconut oil is. Um, did I just say saturated fat. Yes I did, and before you go running in the other direction, hear me out. The saturated fat in this oil is in the form of medium-chain triglycerides (aka MCTs). Lauric acid is the main MCT in coconut oil, which offers antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiviral properties. This compound actually kills bad bacteria while improving our intestinal tract. Bonus regarding MCTs - they’re easily absorbed allowing them to be used by our bods instead of stored as fat. And while we used to fear the cholesterol effects of saturated fat, coconut oil actually elevates HDL (“good” cholesterol) and reduces heart disease risk. Aren’t you glad you kept reading?!
OK great, coconut oil is the bees’ knees. So why is everyone so hyped up on avocados now? Known for its creamy deliciousness in smoothies, salads and dips, avocado is quite the well-rounded fruit. Yes, it’s actually a fruit. High in vitamin E and unsaturated fats, avocado oil also also contains more protein than any other fruit and more potassium than a banana. But here’s the best part - fat-soluble vitamins such as carotenoids rely on dietary fats for absorption, but most foods that are high in carotenoids are low in fat. Enter the avocado, which contains high quantities of unsaturated fatty acids as well as generous amounts of carotenoids. Bam! Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Superfruit. And of course, there’s more! Research has shown that avocado oil exerts an anti-inflammatory effect that may help prevent bone erosion associated with periodontal disease. Similar in nutritional value, texture and taste to olive oil, it’s an easy swap to make when dressing your salad.
Now let’s put these two in the boxing ring. One tablespoon of coconut oil has 122 calories and 13.6 grams of fat (12 grams are from saturated fat) while avocado oil has 124 calories and 14 grams of fat (mostly unsaturated). No clear champ here. Both also have a relatively high smoking point - about 350F for coconut oil and 500F for avocado oil - making them ideal for all types of cooking and baking. When it comes to price - avocado oil runs a little pricier around $15 for 8.5 ounces vs. $15 for 12.7 ounces of coconut oil.
So what’s the net-net? Avocado vs. coconut - how do you choose? It’s kind of like broccoli vs. cauliflower. Don’t choose! They both have a lot to offer, so stock your pantry with both and switch ‘em up. You’re already winning by choosing to incorporate healthier oils into your diet - go you!
-- Terri MacLeod & Keri Glassman