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Coconut oil vs. butter—thoughts?

October 2, 2010

I’m engaged in a very in-depth and fascinating debate today with someone I’ve never met. A friend of mine, Rachelle, made a cake, posted a picture on Facebook, and mentioned she didn’t love the frosting. I suggested she try the frosting from my best-ever chocolate cake, which is coconut-oil-based. A chemist friend of hers (we’ll call him M.S.) posted the following comments:

“Food fads are weird and cyclical. Palm oil used to be pure evil, but it gets rebranded as coconut oil and it is in everything. While probably better for you than shortening, I like butter.

I [don’t] mean to disparage palm oil users. It actually makes a lot of sense if you want to consume no animal products and like to bake as it is the only naturally occurring solid (at room temperature) vegetable fat. I do mean to disparage people who think the fact that it is new and exotic that it is healthier than butter.”

Rachelle replied,

“I was informed that partially hydrogenated palm oil < pure coconut oil and pure coconut oil > butter.”

M.S. said:

“Yes, all true except being better than butter. I mean, it may be but not enough better to be worth anything. Butter has cholesterol and coconut oil is cholesterol free, but butter has less saturated fat. Butter has about twice as many omega-6 fatty acids. Butter is also 20% water 80% fat, while coconut oil is 100% fat. If you use that much more butter (or that much less coconut oil) then it doesn't matter. But it is something to consider when crafting a recipe.”

If you know me at all, you won’t be surprised that I couldn’t keep my mouth shut…

“Well, I better throw in my two cents...but let me preface by saying @MS, *I* don't mean to disparage butter users. :)

1. Healthy alternatives in cooking and baking aren’t “fads.” This isn’t the cabbage soup diet here; it’s chocolate cake.
2. Partially hydrogenated palm oil (read: trans fat) still IS pure evil. But virgin plant-derived oils (including palm and coconut) in their natural forms are, obviously, un-messed with, and contain their full spectrum of nutritious medium-chain fatty acids.
3. Palm oil is derived from either the kernel (seed) or the pulp of the fruit of the oil palm. Coconut oil is derived from the meat or kernel of the COCONUT. There is no rebranding—they are two disparate products.
4. Butter is composed primarily of saturated fatty acids of which eating too much increases one’s risks of heart disease, hypertension, hypercholestemia, arteriosclerosis, obesity, certain types of cancers (incl. breast, prostate, colon, kidney, pancreas, et al.), diabetes, and more. In addition, as saturated fats are particularly tiresome for the liver to break down, the greatest percentage of those fats are converted to storage in adipose (fat) cells rather than being burned by the body for energy. Also, eating butter = ingesting bacteria, dioxins, herbicides, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, and anything else the cow eats (i.e. GMO corn that its rumen [stomach] is unable to properly digest or assimilate into nutrients in the first place).
5. The saturated fats in coconut oil are medium-chain fatty acids, while the ones in butter are long-chain. Medium-chain are metabolized differently than the long-chain saturated fats described above in (4). MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) resemble carbohydrates more than they do fats. They are more water soluble, and as such they don't require bile to break down, and are thus broken down more quickly. They enter the bloodstream faster and are used as an immediate source of energy – i.e., fewer MCTs are converted to body fat than longer-chain fatty acids.
6. A high percentage of omega-6 fats is another big DOWNSIDE of butter. Humans need both omega-3s and omega-6s in their daily diet, yes – but our bodies require them in roughly-equal amounts, a 1-to-1 ratio. Thanks to the prevalence of corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean, and cottonseed oils, and yes, BUTTER, the average American diet provides omega-6s in a 10-TO-1 RATIO to omega-3s. That’s a big, BIG problem for heart health.
7. Yes, coconut oil is 100% fat. So is olive oil, and so are other healthy, “pure” plant oils. I’ll take a tablespoon of oil with 14g of good fats over a tablespoon of butter with 12g bad fats any day.

Like I said, no disparaging intended. I am all about people putting into their bodies whatever they choose. I simply feel compelled to inform. :)”

But the good M.S. was not to be silenced that easily! He came back with:

“‎1) Do dairy cows eat corn? Corn is usually used to finish beef cattle (the last few months before slaughter to fatten them up), but as far as I can tell forage (straw, grass, etc.) is primarily what dairy cattle are fed.
2) I was mistaken about the distinction between the composition of coconut oil and palm oil. I knew they were from different parts of the coconut, but I didn't realize that they differed in their fatty acid composition as much as they do. Coconut oil is far more saturated.
3)Not all the saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are medium chain. 77% of the fat in coconut oil are long chain saturated fatty acids (C12 to C18), 15% are medium chain fatty acids (C6 to C10). Compared to butter which is 56% long chain and 8% medium chain (4% short chain, C4). So more of it is medium chain in coconut, but more of it is long chain. This is because coconut oil is more saturated over all (I am leaving unsaturatated fats out of the discussion because it appears that the medium/long chain distinction only applies to saturated fats, but I am certainly open to correction). The stats I found were coconut oil 92% saturated vs butter 68% saturated.
4) Looking up what you said about the health benefits of medium chain fatty acids and I can't really verify any of it (apart from how they are absorbed). There have been animal studies showing that rats burn more energy consuming medium chains vs long chains and can lose weight on a diet of medium chains. There have been studies that the burning of energy translates over to humans, but that hasn't resulted in studies where weight loss has also been shown to be statistically significant. Which makes sense, we are just talking about a 10% difference or so. Would you notice if you got a 10% smaller piece of butter cake vs coconut oil cake? (The difference would be even smaller as I noted above, butter has fewer medium chain fatty acids, but in both butter and coconut oil long chains out number mediums by a substantial margin)
5) What you say about heart disease is biologically plausible, but I couldn't find any studies which bore it out. On the cancer front, I don't see biological plausibility. It really doesn't make sense to say x causes cancer while substituting y does not when you don't specify what type of cancer you're talking about. The causes of cancer, environmental, genetic, etc. is a really really complicated area and every type of cancer is different. Something that prevents one type of cancer may make another type worse (this is what new research on antioxidants is showing). So, I mean, you could be right, but we'd never be able to design a study which showed it due to all the possible confounding factors. Unless the beneficial effect of medium chain fatty acids was HUGE. Or the negative effect of long chain fatty acids was HUGE (see lung cancer and smoking). I doubt eating long chain fatty acids is as carcinogenic as inhaling tobacco smoke 15-20 times a day for 40 years.

In conclusion, coconut oil may be healthier, but it is not clear, even if everything you say is true. Which also isn't clear, given the state of the literature. Unless there are some studies I am not aware of.”

Though I wasn’t trying to start a debate this sprawling, and clearly this guy is hella smart and I have zero animosity towards him, I responded anyway:

“1. Organic dairy cows may be given grass, to at least some degree, but overall a diet of hay, corn silage, soybeans, alfalfa, and protein supplements is what is fed to industrial dairy cows (plus the usual array of antibiotics, etc). (Also, the “last few months” of beef cattle’s lives is pretty close to “the majority” of their lives.)
3. Granted
4. True, human studies are harder to come by than those on rodents, and human trials are admittedly small-scale. (Seems to be the case for all too many things...)
Anecdotal at best, you might say, but evidence adds up over time (as does weight loss – the same way eating a mere 100 fewer calories per day translates to roughly 10 lbs lost over a year’s time). I’m not saying that MCTs are the BEST thing you can eat. Clearly there is SO much more to a healthy diet than sat fat (this applies to [5] below, as well). I would absolutely say that a person eating a Tbsp of butter per day is far better off than someone consuming a cup of coconut oil per day (caloric content aside, even). I think if people choose to include butter as part of a healthy diet, it can be done – moderation in everything. In equal amounts, though, if a person were to choose one of these two fat sources to utilize, I personally advocate coconut oil. The health benefits over butter, though they may not be as staggeringly sweeping as one would like to see proven, are still enough for me to give it full preference. (Plus, I like the taste better! Of course that counts for something in all this.)
5. Certainly, there is more to cancer than one single thing like omega-6 consumption. I hope I didn’t make it sound like that was the be-all/end-all to cancer. But generally speaking, cancer being so closely linked to inflammation, and omega-3 fats being anti-inflammatory and omega-6 fats generally promoting inflammation (this, I guess, is why our bodies prefer them in equal ratios), I think it is one important factor to consider in the question of cancer.
Again, anecdotal, and there’s infinitely more to be researched in this realm. I’m not supposing that these handful of links I’m throwing out there “prove” anything or solve the issue in its entirety. Just some examples.

For me, it comes down to:
Coconut oil has more benefits to our body, generally, than butter does.
Butter has more negative health effects and relations, generally, than coconut oil does.

There’s no perfect food, and a thousand other things to consider in diet, but as far as this question, my vote goes to coconut. But to each his own!

PS—Your supposition about tobacco being worse than butter is something with which I agree wholeheartedly.

I applaud you for your thorough investigations. I’m not a scientist (and I’m told YOU are! Which is awesome), just a layperson with an intense interest in this stuff, so I won’t claim to be THE authority on all this...though my opinions are “strong,” to put it lightly. Just, like I said, MY two cents...or at this point more like two dollars, but no matter. :)”

So now, we wait to see what/if he replies.
Any thoughts? Additions? Contributions? Corrections? Helpful links?

M.S. responded thusly…

“Interesting studies. They are small, but compelling given the level of control. I admit I didn't know what I was talking about regarding coconut oil. And I never intended to equate a perfectly acceptable vegan cake recipe with the cabbage diet. My apologies and thanks for the opportunity to reduce my ignorance. :)”

Now that is sportsmanship!
My closing comment:

“No apologies necessary! Thank YOU for prompting me to articulate/refine/exercise my knowledge on the subject. Challenge is energizing to the intellect, which can only be a good thing in the end.

And no worries about the cake, haha! Especially since the health aspects of coconut oil are only a secondary reason I use it in that frosting (the main reason being that with its low melting point of 75 degrees, the frosting stays gooey at room temp).

Let me also mention, since I realize I didn’t specify anywhere above, that I personally use only organic, virgin oils of all kinds. Many modern processing methods can have a hugely deleterious effect on what may have started out as a healthy, virtuous product. So allow me to conclude by saying that if I were forced to choose between butter from organically-raised, grass-fed cows, or oil from genetically-modified, pesticide-laden soybeans, I would say: pass me the butter! I suppose the crux of my stance is that I just never put myself in that position. :)

Anyway, cheers to intelligent debate!”

All in all, a very rewarding conversation on both sides, I’d say.
And a ridiculously perfect segway into my next post! You’ll see…

37 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt permalink
    October 2, 2010 3:19 pm

    He may be a chemist, but you’re a doctor! ;-P

    And you’re absolutely awesome. Love you!!!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 2, 2010 4:43 pm

      (Disclaimer: it’s an inside joke! I’m not really a doctor, but I vehemently proclaimed myself to be one as a child, and it stuck.)

      I love you too, buttercup! (Er…coconut-oil-cup?…)

  2. October 2, 2010 3:26 pm

    I’m of the school of thought that processing food goes through is the issue, not the food itself. For instance, butter made from the cream of non-GMO cows and presented in its pure form is much, MUCH healthier than the butter that has GMO leftovers as well as processing additives. Since you two seem to have exhausted quite a bit of the research links out there, I’ll just put it the way my scientific mind thinks: Any processing–that is, high-temp/pressure cooking, preservatives, nutrients removed, nutrients artificially added, color/flavor enhancers–work against the health benefit of the food itself.

    There are plenty of cases of people eating unprocessed meat, drinking milk, even drinking blood and yet not having any of the negative effects you hear about that meat and dairy are blamed on. To me, this indicated that the INDUSTRY is the issue, not the INGREDIENT.

    In short, you can make ANY food bad for you through the processing…er, process. Sadly, processed food is cheaper and more readily available, plus it has a long, long shelf life (kind of like mummies….think about it).

    I’m not discounting the argument, but I really feel like the comparison being made here is like comparing GM apples to free-range cattle. 😉

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 2, 2010 4:49 pm

      Hillary, I completely agree. I think you of all people know that I don’t have an ethical agenda in my views 😉 so I happily concede that overprocessed plant products are often worse than unprocessed, conscientiously produced animal products.

      Actually, after he responded again, and I gave my final reply (as the post is now edited to reflect above), I did think to mention that I’m specifically referring to organic, virgin oils when I talk about this stuff. So, that should restore the comparison to organic, non-GMO apples vs. free-range cattle. 😛

      Love the comparison of food processing to mummification, hehe!

  3. KCashatt permalink
    October 2, 2010 5:09 pm

    I was waiting for the you to go into the last comment a little more – you didn’t so I will take the plunge. Being somewhat vegan myself means to me that “oil” should be used sparingly because why I am almost vegan is for health. Too much of ANY oil is not good – so having it either “butter” or “coconut oil” in frosting is in reality a rarity. How many times do I really eat that? Once a month, twice a month or I would say for myself maybe 4 times a year! My ultimately goal is to eat as healthy as I can and those things that’s aren’t as healthy we eat in moderation or sparingly. So that’s why I choose mostly non-GMO foods, mostly non-dairy, mostly non-saturated fats (well nearly none), mostly cold expresser pressed olive oil, etc etc etc!! Instead of making it a religion (and everyone elses), I make it “to my health.” If people just made better choices in only one area of food items obesity would start going down! Health would start going up – instead America is fast becoming the sickest country because we eat the most!! Weird I know!!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 2, 2010 5:44 pm

      I completely understand what you’re saying. For the same reasons as you, I choose organic, virgin, plant-derived oils. And though I’m fairly liberal with the total fat content of my diet, as far as just straight OILS go, I really don’t eat very much. Sure, occasionally I’ll make a cake like that, but with 7 Tbsp of coconut oil in the frosting, and 15 servings in the cake, no one’s eating more than 1 1/2 tsp at a time anyway! Overindulgence is a problem no matter what food you’re eating. It’s not healthy to eat ANY item to excess, and I did miss out on saying so in my comments. Thanks for pointing that out!

  4. October 2, 2010 5:35 pm

    Can I try and simplify this a little with my opinion on the matter? (I don’t want to re-ignite the debate it’s just my two cents 🙂 )

    I would choose natural foods such as plants, seeds and nuts in their purest form over ANY sort of animal product any day. I think society relies too heavily on animal products and if most people wrote down every single thing they consumed over a day they would be very surprised at the animal derived content. I THINK this in itself is somehow connected to cancer more than anyone would like to believe or admit as they have been so conditioned to eat meat or dairy with every single meal and assume it’s NORMAL and acceptable.

    It just makes more sense to either eliminate these foods or at least minimise them and try to consume MOSTLY natural foods the way they have been presented to us in nature.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 2, 2010 5:50 pm

      Very, very true. I didn’t really touch on the social or environmental points of animal product consumption, as we were limiting the topic to the health aspects of just butter vs. coconut. But America’s reliance on animal products is indeed a massive (and unsustainable) problem, and one way or another we need a wake-up call. I can’t imagine that that DOESN’T contribute in some way to our society’s worst health epidemics like cancer and obesity. So you’ve really pointed to “the big picture” here, and I agree with your summation. Let’s get away from “industry” and back to “nature”!

      • October 2, 2010 6:38 pm

        LOVED the debate though 😉

        P.S Thanks for your site, I liked it via Facebook and am keen to try your meat free bolognese sauce.

        B from Australia 🙂

        • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
          October 2, 2010 7:14 pm

          Aw, thank you! I’m so glad to have you as a new reader! Enjoy the bolognese; let me know how it turns out for you 😀

  5. October 2, 2010 5:38 pm

    That was some debate! It’s funny, Mr. Wing-It and I were just talking about how some people hate Daiya so much because of the high fat content, and how they appear to be such fanatics when they put the Daiya-lovers down. I say live and let live, live and let die, whatever. I’m not much of a debater! 😀

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 2, 2010 5:54 pm

      Honestly, I USUALLY just stay out of it when people talk about hot-button food issues. But this guy was clearly very smart, and I get SO much more out of arguing with intelligent people than I do wasting my breath on people who’ll never truly listen or comprehend, so I dived right in. Plus, the “health” side is, to me, far more concrete than the political “what’s right and what’s wrong for our country” side (though I did delve into that a little bit in the comments above), so it’s more worth debating than something that’s more opinion-based. But usually, I’m with you—”Live and let eat!”

      • October 2, 2010 9:48 pm

        Arguing with intelligent people is way better! My one and only debatish conversation about why I became vegan happened years ago, and the person questioning my choices actually threw a “but carrots have feelings too” at me. Oy! 😀

        • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
          April 12, 2011 3:53 pm

          Haha! ::rolls eyes::

  6. October 2, 2010 6:59 pm

    just wanted to say i dont cook w/ butter b/c of the dairy/vegan aspect so coconut oil is my go-to. Havent read all the little bits and comments in the post, pressed for time. Just wanted to say thanks for the great email last nite 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 2, 2010 7:13 pm

      Looong post, I know…needless to say, it was quite a time-consuming debate! But intellectually enriching, in the end. I’m such a nerd…

      And as you put it, the bottom line is: I don’t “do” dairy, so coco oil it is. 🙂

      You’re very welcome re: the email. Hope your night improved, and that your weekend is going well!

  7. October 2, 2010 9:23 pm

    I’m kinda in love with you both. It’s so rare for these types of debates to stay at a rational, respectful, intelligent and substantiated level, so I felt all warm and fuzzy and relieved to reach teh end of this with no signs of close-mindedness or nastiness coming out from either side.

    I also find what you’ve both said fascinating. I don’t use butter or coconut oil with regularity, as tend to use Nuttelex in my baking (which is probably worse than both, but hey, it doesn’t have trans fats!) and I’ve been tempted by coconut oil, but the price has been the main deterrant for me.

    That frosting does look divine, though, even for someone who doesn’t care much for frosting…

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 2, 2010 9:44 pm

      Hehe! That’s funny you say that, because Rachelle, who is originally Matt’s friend, replied to an earlier comment of Matt’s on the same photo, saying “I’m a little in love with your girlfriend.” So now you three may need to fight over me 😀

      I can very much understand The Price Problem. I have my own such temptations. (Oh, raw sunflower lecithin, how I covet thee!) But seriously, coconut oil = healthtastic AND oh-my-god-please-slather-this-all-over-my-body-delicious (you, Matt, or Rachelle, that is; you guys decide who’ll do the deed :P)

    • Matt permalink
      October 3, 2010 10:03 am

      Not again! *sigh* Ok. I was gonna do a cookoff for her affection. But you might have the advantage over me and my friend Rachelle. So instead we should just compromise: We’ll all slather coconut oil on Amber at the same time. ;-P

  8. October 3, 2010 3:28 pm

    I enjoyed reading this!! It’s great to see a debate rather than the flat-out postives or negatives of a given oil/food/what-have-you. And it’s nice to see a friendly debate rather than “you’re wrong.”
    Needless to say, I’m interested to see what this post is leading to 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 3, 2010 3:34 pm

      Thank you! I’m really glad you enjoyed it (and impressed that you, and anyone, actually read the whole thing!). Like I told someone else, I don’t usually debate people this strongly, because I don’t have faith that most people will listen, comprehend, and be open to actually learning. It was kind of a treat to argue with someone logical and rational and scientific about it, like me. 😛

  9. October 4, 2010 7:22 am

    ha, what a way to learn more info!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 4, 2010 12:17 pm

      Haha, no kidding. Enriching for all 🙂

  10. Julia permalink
    October 5, 2010 10:07 pm

    Was out of town last week when the debate broke out, so it was nearly impossible to follow on my iPhone and jump into the ruckus. Later, I think you asked about other experiences with coconut oil and/or agave so I think I should be writing this elsewhere. If I have my wits about me when I finish my thought, I’ll copy and paste it back in. But right now my main coconut oil is Nutiva and they have a nice info with lots of information. I’d gotten a book or two on coconut oil by Bruce (someone, last name I forgot, and you likely referred to it in the debate above, but that scrolly version is harder for me to read). In any case I’ve tried several of Nutiva’s products – their coconut oil, hemp oil, hemp seed, etc. (I’m admittedly not as far along in the vegan path as you are). I love coconut oil in my morning cuppa tea (which is Oolong tea and the admittedly laughable Gevalia Honey Ginseng Mint tea, but I love it anyway, even if I’m a barbarian in the tea drinking societies.).

    Sorry this isn’t a terribly well-written reply…I’m a bit jetlagged…
    as for the agave – one of my “healther friends” who has had quite a bit of experience with raw and also vegan lifestyles put me on to agave several years ago. She didn’t specify a brand, so I bought some mid-price ranged brand – can’t remember what it was – got it at one of our better health food stores in town – but I *Did* NOT like the funny way my body felt whenever I ate with it. Can’t really describe it but was just a sort of weak sweet taste but at the same time, my “sweet cravings” didn’t seem to be satisfied. It was really weird. And it made me think of commercially available products like bread or juices made with HFCS, where I’d just eat and eat and eat, wanting that feeling of being satisfied by some sweetness and all I was doing was getting full and not feeling like I’d eaten something satisfyingly sweet (the way I did with Stevia or with raw cane sugar etc.).

    So I was really *stunned* then,when like 6 months later, Dr. Mercola came out with that article about HFCS and Agave Syrup being more or less synonymous (sp?) – I believe you referenced it but I didn’t finish reading your entire blog on it (again, was on the phone when I first read it. I’ll need to go find it now that I’m here…). Seems like he didn’t completely trash all Agave – just pointed out that much of it had been cut down with HFCS just to thin it out and sell a little bit stretched out a long way just to pimp up their products.

    Anyway I’ll have to go back and find your blog and go try out the specific brand(s) of Agave that are pure and not the runny thin stuff that is “Agave” in name only but thinned out. Iit’s funny, in a pathetic way, that I didn’t catch onto it earlier, because 20 years ago, my former roommate – with years of waitressing behind her at that point – told me that many restaurants would thin out their honey with cheap corn syrup (likely HFCS, but she nor I knew of it by that name back then!) just to make a gallon of honey last a lot longer.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 6, 2010 2:24 pm

      I still haven’t tried Nutiva, though I have heard good things. Manitoba Harvest is actually sending me some samples to try, so maybe after I finish those, I should give Nutiva a fair shot 😉 Coconut oil in tea? That’s a new one to me!

      That’s very strange that you had that reaction to agave, but very interesting, also, that you likened its effects to HFCS like Dr. Mercola later did. You might prefer raw agaves, most of which are purer, thicker, and more strongly flavored than those “light” versions.

      How funny about the honey! (I’m a poet and I don’t know it…) You know, the way restaurants cut corners all the time, that actually doesn’t surprise me at all.

  11. October 7, 2010 3:03 pm

    Wow. I feel like I just sat through a chemistry lecture. My brain is still absorbing it all. Nice discussion.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 7, 2010 3:05 pm

      Hehe, no kidding! It provides some serious brain exercise, doesn’t it? Whew!

  12. November 29, 2010 9:04 pm

    Hi Amber Shea!

    (Approx. 605 words) Your site brought all this on, the following.

    Just so you know, I particularly liked the part where you admitted that you weren’t a doctor but played one as a kid and it sort of stuck. You got a smile and a haha, there.

    Stumbled onto your site by accident, and am ‘glad’ I did. I have been sampling a couple of pieces of cocoa dusted truffles made with coconut and palm oil; the saturated fat was rated on 4-pcs at 77% of DV, saturated fat–the pcs. melt pretty quickly–I don’t think 2-pcs. a day is over-indulgence, but . . . it can’t be good considering what I have assimilated from reading your blog, (in its entirety).
    What do you think of the actual ingredients? Coconut and palm kernel oils; sugar, low fat cocoa power (processed with alkali, dairy whey powder, soy lecithin (an emulsifier); 4-pcs. 240 cal. 160 from fat.

    Too, what I needed to hear was the “using” or the “ingesting” of too much oil: that it is not good–I’m an EVOO/Balsamic vinegar guy when it comes to my “multi-veggie” salads; probably more olive oil than vinegar; believing that EVOO was safe in 2-4 tbsp. quantities. I exercise, regularly.

    Also, I’m a dairy products guy, using 2% milk on multi-grain cereal (mid day); breakfast I use Dannon cultured yogurt on diced/tidbit size; fresh fruit, usually: apples, pineapple, grapes and bananas, (I leave the peelings on the apples); wash the skins with dove soap: it doesn’t remove the wax, but I’m satisfied that the dust and dirt has been removed.

    Depending on any replies I may get, I will close by saying that I too enjoyed the DEBATE as have others that have commented. Eating healthily is fun; cheating on a few things I keep to a minimum . . . it’s easy to feel guilty when you know something isn’t good for you . . . so I keep my food & sweet in check, and my weight fluctuation no more than 3-4-lbs after a weekend of socializing. Currently writing a “fictionalized autobiography” delves into the lifestyle/fat mentality, of people prone to get fat, and those who’s proclivity to stay skinny causes its own grief when “fat hooks up with skinny” and marry, have kids.

    Thanks for creating this web site; I’m marking it a favorite.

    FYI: “My leading character eventually becomes a Vegan, and joins PITA. And too; was an original Valley Girl who began reading books at an early age; was raised in Hollywood, Ca; attended Catholic schools up through grades 1-8; was a descendant of wealth and power, but her mother’s brothers, and her mother’s poor decisions, at young age, left her searching for what she never was to receive, monetarily. Elusive wealth.

    “She always had her natural good looks, (Sophia Loren’s beauty), until beauty disappeared, and became hidden in “puffy adipose tissue,” PAT. It was a roller coaster ride she was on; lost the fat, had a child, regained the weight; lost the weight; protection and passion: pistols, knives, razors and pills; and bingeing on leftovers, whatever was left on the table, or stored in the refrig. Doctors, hospitals; emergency vehicles, stomach pumped, rehab. The early men in her life not-able to make her happy, (not enough money; not enough empathy); until: a guy fresh out of boot camp came to her rescue–by then she had two children 11-months apart and was PG with her third.”

    You’re a writer; writers are about half-semi, don’t you think?

    Thanks again.

  13. Brenda permalink
    December 7, 2010 10:07 am

    I’m still confused as to which is the healthier choice, coconut oil or butter.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 7, 2010 10:59 am

      Coconut oil, hands down 🙂 Butter didn’t stand a chance!

      I’m doing a research project this week on coconut oil, actually – the goal is to condense all the crucial information into one easy-to-read and -understand handout. If you’d like, I can forward you a copy when I’m finished with it. Just let me know!

  14. April 12, 2011 3:29 pm

    So… I literally just baked flapjacks & granolas using virgin coconut oil (purchased eagerly from a local organic/hippie -type shop earlier today) instead of my usual heavy-butter recipe, under a naive assumption as a nutritional layperson that it would be healthier (or even *healthy*, minus the demerara!). So now I have four enormous whopping great granolas sitting right in front of me — and I’m scoffing them while reading your excellent article — but I’m slightly worried that I’m eating something which is at best 10—15% or so healthier than butter?! (Vague approximation caveat.)

    Well awwww dammit! I’ve been trying in vain for some time now to find an alternative to both butter and sugar for baking, i.e. flapjacks and granolas, etc. I even tried xylitol for sugar replacement and it’s no good — and it’s a diuretic apparently… 😦

    Any tips?! Thanks in advance.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      April 12, 2011 3:52 pm

      I say keep munching on those granolas, Luke 🙂 Provided you didn’t dump a cup of coconut oil on there, I’m sure your usage was within reasonable limits. Enjoy your snacks with the knowledge that you’re avoiding long-chain animal fats in favor of healthy medium-chain fats like lauric acid.

      To replace sugar, I use stevia whenever possible, but in dishes that require the volume of sugar, I like to use coconut nectar (if a liquid sweetener is needed) or palm sugar (if a granulated sweetener is needed). They’re both lower in calories and sugar grams, tablespoon for tablespoon, than sugar, and they’re low-glycemic as well. Hope that helps!

  15. June 26, 2012 5:33 pm


  16. September 8, 2012 12:44 pm

    nice debate!! besides the above info, would also like to mention coconut oil has lauric acid which is an immune booster and antiviral.

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