Differences Between Coconut Butter and Coconut Oil
Coconut oil and coconut butter are extremely similar, but there are a few key differences. The first is related to how they are both comprised. Coconut butter is made from the whole meat of the coconut, whereas the oil is simply the oil content of the coconut. It is important to keep in mind though, that approximately 65% of the coconut meat is oil.[i] For this reason, coconut oil will typically exist as a very clear oil at room temperature, or anything above 76 degrees Fahrenheit,[ii] and will become more opaque and more solid as the temperature decreases. Coconut better, on the other hand, has a much more meaty composition and spreads similar to butter itself or even peanut butter. Coconut better maintains a white appearance and is solid at room temperature and will only melt when heated to a higher temperature.
Coconut oil is typically produced by extracting the oil through either a dry process or a wet process. The dry process would use fire or sunlight to create what is called copra which would then be pressed for the oil. The wet process uses raw coconut and creates a water/oil emulsion, which means that the oil needs to be recovered by prolonged boiling. This type of extraction requires much more investment and energy.[iii] Making coconut butter is a much simpler process and is easy enough for most people to complete at their home even! This can be done by simply purchasing dried, unsweetened shredded coconut from any grocery store and putting it in a food processor or blender until it becomes a butter-like consistency.
Uses in food
Coconut oil has many culinary applications. It can be used in baking as a substitute for any recipe that calls for butter. It can also be used for anything that is pan fried and works particularly well because it has a higher smoke point than most oils, 450 degrees Fahrenheit for refined coconut oil and 350 degrees for unrefined oil.[iv] It also works well when roasting or sautéing vegetables, scrambling eggs, making smoothies, and even in pancakes.[v] Coconut butter is much more commonly used as a spread, although some use it as a topping with sweet potato or squash. It can also be used when preparing curry.[vi] While both will have a coconut flavor, the butter is stronger than the oil as it contains the whole meat of the coconut.
Coconut oil has many health related benefits. It is significantly healthier than other cooking oils and using it regularly can prevent heart disease and high blood pressure. This is because most of the fats in coconut oil are medium-chain triglycerides, rather than the longer-chain triglycerides in other oils, and are readily used as energy.[vii] Coconut butter has similar nutritional benefits, but since it includes all of the coconut meat, it is not exclusively comprised of fats. It can also provide other critical nutrients such as fiber, potassium, magnesium and iron.[viii] Coconut oil can also be used as a natural treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease, curing urinary tract infection, kidney infection, easing arthritis pain, cancer prevention and treatment, providing a boost to both the immune system and brain function including memory. Coconut oil also improves energy, endurance, digestion, skin issues, gum disease and tooth decay, osteoporosis, and type II diabetes. It works to reduce stomach issues, symptoms of gallbladder disease, pancreatitis and liver disease.[ix]
Coconut oil is also commonly used with oil pulling, which is not an application which would be suited for coconut butter. Oil pulling is completed by swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth anywhere from ten to twenty minutes. Traditional Indian medicine indicates that this practice helps with curing tooth decay, alieving bad breath, healing gums, preventing heart disease and inflammation, preventing cavities and whitening teeth. It can also strengthen the gums and jaw, heal cracked lips, provide an immune system boost and soothe sore throats.[x]
Consumption of both coconut oil and coconut butter has led many to remark on its effects on skin, hair and nail health. However, there are many other beauty applications for both products. Coconut oil can be used as a lotion for dry skin, as a cheekbone highlighter, when shaving one’s legs, as a deep-conditioner, as a make-up remover and face cleaner. It can also be used to add shine to your hair and as a body scrub.[xi] Some of the beauty applications of coconut butter include using it as an additive to a bath, for treatment of split ends, as a facial night-cream or exfoliant, and even as a foot bath.[xii]
The typical price for coconut oil and coconut butter is similar, commonly retailing for between $15 and $20 in the United States. However, this price will typically buy 32-54 ounces of coconut oil, whereas the standard package size for coconut butter is 14-16 ounces. However, coconut butter could be made at home for a much lower price. The average price per pound of dried, shredded, unsweetened coconut is only $5.
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[i] Coconut oil vs. coconut butter. (n.d.). In Nouveauraw. Retrieved from https://nouveauraw.com/members-only/coconut-oil-vs-coconut-butter/
[ii] Wallace, M. (2014, January 12). What is the difference between coconut oil & coconut butter? Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/245310-what-is-the-difference-between-coconut-oil-coconut-butter/
[iii] Coconut oil. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut_oil
[iv] Robison, L. (2016, August 9). Cooking with coconut oil. Retrieved from http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/cooking-coconut-oil
[v] Robison, L. (2016, August 9). Cooking with coconut oil. Retrieved from http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/cooking-coconut-oil
[vi] What the heck can I do with coconut butter? (2010, December 8). Retrieved from http://balancedbites.com/what-the-heck-can-i-do-with-coconut-butter/
[vii] Roussell, M. (n.d.). Ask the diet doctor: coconut oil vs. coconut butter. Retrieved from http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/ask-diet-doctor-coconut-oil-vs-coconut-butter
[viii] Roussell, M. (n.d.). Ask the diet doctor: coconut oil vs. coconut butter. Retrieved from http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/ask-diet-doctor-coconut-oil-vs-coconut-butter
[ix] 20 Coconut oil benefits & side effects. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://draxe.com/coconut-oil-benefits/
[x] Coconut oil pulling benefits & how-to guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://draxe.com/oil-pulling-coconut-oil/
[xi] O’Connor, S. (2014, December 19). 10 amazing beauty tricks with coconut oil. Retrieved from http://www.prevention.com/beauty/coconut-oil-cures-for-your-skin-and-hair
[xii] 10 ways to use my new favourite $10 beauty product: coconut butter, (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.foxinflats.com.au/2012/05/10-ways-favourite-10-beauty-product-coconut-butter/