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Is Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil Better Than Butter or Olive Oil?

Updated on March 21, 2011

True or False: Coconut Oil is healthier than butter

Go to any new age medicine store or naturopathic doctor and they'll probably tell you about the benefits of coconut oil. The truth is, the stuff is certainly better for you than regular butter, and way better for you than margarine. That shouldn't be too astonishing, since just about anything you put in your body is better for you than margarine. I'm not sure how they can still sell that stuff as a food product. Look at the chemical formula for margarine and you'll find it's basically just a soft plastic. You'd be better off eating the box it comes in.

Coconut oil is a very versatile product, since it can be used in place of butter, cooking oil, or even as a moisturizer. I guess butter has also been used on skin before, but usually just for stag films from the 1970's.

Coconut oil was once believed to increase cholesterol levels, but evidence of that now seems to be sketchy at best. Now doctors are recommending it for its anti-microbial and anti-viral properties. That's not to say that coconut oil is a cure for AIDS, but doctors have told patients to take it to decrease their viral load, and tests have shown that it is relatively effective in that capacity. Coconut oil is able to do this because it contains Lauric acid, which is transformed in the human body into a chemical that destroys lipid-coated viruses, including HIV, herpes, and influenza.

Coconut oil seems like a rare, boutique product in the United States these days, but the truth is it used to be very common. Starting in the late-1970s and 1980s, coconut oil was the victim of a vicious advertising campaign by corn and soybean producers, who hoped Americans would switch to their alternative products. Coconut oil's reputation was badly hurt by its saturated fat content, even though we now know that not all saturated fats are the same and the ones in coconut oil are less harmful that the ones in the various alternative products. Because coconut oil producers are from relatively poor countries, they were unable to counter the marketing blitz from industrial farmers in the United States, and coconut oil was pushed back into the realm of the niche products.  

You can probably find coconut oil in your grocery store, especially if it's a larger one. You'll probably find it for cheaper online. I've noticed that multiple coconut oil brands are available with Amazon's "subscribe and save" program, which saves you 15% if you buy a product on a regular basis.  

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