8 Amazing Substitutes for Coconut Oil

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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The best coconut oil substitutes for baking or cooking include olive oil, shea butter, vegetable oil, almond oil, avocado oil, neem oil, hemp seed oil, grapeseed oil, and sunflower oil.

Coconut oil is one of the most sought-after and highly prized health ingredients in numerous cosmetic and beauty products, as well as in the culinary realm, and for good reason. As per the USDA, coconut oil is rich in beneficial fats, which help balance your cholesterol levels, and it also has natural antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.

The high levels of lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid mean that this oil can boost immunity, improve the appearance of your hair, prevent chronic disease, and lessen signs of aging. Clearly, there is a reason why coconut oil can be found in a vast array of hair products, skin care treatments, and healthy cooking recipes. It is an excellent alternative to harsh or abrasive skin and hair treatments and is healthier than butter of canola oil.

However, some people experience contact dermatitis when using coconut oil, which rules them out from enjoying the benefits. Also, for those who use coconut oil on a regular basis, there may come a day when you simply run out! In either case, it is good to know the best substitutes for coconut oil, as well as any different health benefits or side effects they may have on the body.

A bottle of almond oil and a bowl of coconut oil with half coconut and almonds on green leaves

Almond oil and coconut oil Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Oil, coconut
Serving Size :
Water [g]0.03
Energy [kcal]892
Energy [kJ]3730
Total lipid (fat) [g]99.06
Ash [g]0.03
Calcium, Ca [mg]1
Iron, Fe [mg]0.05
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.02
Choline, total [mg]0.3
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.11
Tocopherol, beta [mg]0.6
Tocopherol, delta [mg]0.18
Tocotrienol, alpha [mg]2.17
Tocotrienol, beta [mg]0.13
Tocotrienol, gamma [mg]0.36
Tocotrienol, delta [mg]0.25
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0.6
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]82.48
4:0 [g]0.01
6:0 [g]0.48
8:0 [g]6.8
10:0 [g]5.39
12:0 [g]41.84
14:0 [g]16.65
15:0 [g]0.02
16:0 [g]8.64
17:0 [g]0.01
18:0 [g]2.52
20:0 [g]0.08
22:0 [g]0.02
24:0 [g]0.03
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]6.33
16:1 [g]0.02
16:1 c [g]0.02
18:1 [g]6.27
18:1 c [g]6.25
20:1 [g]0.04
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]1.7
18:2 [g]1.68
18:2 n-6 c,c [g]1.68
18:3 [g]0.02
18:3 n-3 c,c,c (ALA) [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0.03
Fatty acids, total trans-monoenoic [g]0.02
18:1 t [g]0.02
18:2 t not further defined [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total trans-polyenoic [g]0.01
Phytosterols [mg]86
Sources include : USDA

Substitutes for Coconut Oil

Let us look at the substitutes for coconut oil in detail:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Arguably the most popular and simplest substitute for coconut oil is extra virgin olive oil. It is rich in antioxidants and critical minerals and is commonly used in hair care products and cosmetic supplies. When it comes to cooking, extra virgin olive oil can be used in the same quantities as coconut oil and it provides the same boost to heart health in terms of lowering dangerous LDL cholesterol levels in the body. It is a natural moisturizer and is linked to reductions in dandruff and irritation on the hair and scalp, respectively, as well as increased healing and regenerative properties for the skin.

Sunflower Seed Oil

Derived from sunflower seeds, this oil is a great replacement for coconut oil, as it is rich in vitamin A, E, and D, along with key antioxidants and fatty acids that help lower cholesterol levels, protect heart health, and reduce your risk of chronic disease. Sunflower seed oil has certain carotenoids that are able to protect the skin from sun damage can increase the luster and appearance of your hair. It can be used in the same quantities as coconut oil in its wide range of applications. Sunflower seed oil is rich in selenium, oleic acid, conjugated linoleic acid, and vitamin E all of which are linked to anticancer effects. However additional research and clinical evidence are required to support the anticancer benefits.

Grapeseed Oil

This mild oil is known to be slightly astringent, making it an excellent replacement for coconut oil treatment of the skin. It can help improve elasticity and remove the appearance of blemishes and wrinkles, thanks to its rich antioxidant content. The range of fatty acids that it contains, including stearic, linoleic, lauric, palmitic, oleic and myristic acids make it excellent for heart health. It is a natural anti-inflammatory substance, both when consumed and when applied topically.

Almond Oil

Slightly more expensive than other replacement options and not commonly recommended for cooking, almond oil is excellent for skin and hair care. It is easily absorbed by the skin, does not make the skin oily, and does not clog the pores. The wealth of vitamins, including A, E, B, and D also make this oil an excellent treatment for the hair. You can mix almond oil into other hair products, or simply apply it to your own scalp to revitalize the skin and strengthen the hair. Its primary use, however, is as a moisturizing oil on the skin, particularly on inflamed or irritated areas.

Avocado Oil

This all-natural vegetable oil isn’t the most common item on your shopping list, but it has a wealth of nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and volatile organic compounds that moisturize the skin and protect it from infections and irritation. As a substitute for coconut oil, avocado oil is not usually a cooking oil but can be applied to any part of the body, including the hair, face, and skin, usually in smaller amounts than traditional coconut oil would be used.

A jar of avocado oil, guacamole in a wooden bowl, and sliced avocado fruit

You can include avoado in any form in your diet to reap its benefits. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Hemp Seed Oil

One of the most beneficial organic oils on the market, hemp seed oil does an amazing job protecting the skin from sun damage and oxidation, helping shrink the size of pores and acting as an astringent to improve elasticity and remove signs of aging. The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids also make this a popular cooking oil for those looking to protect their heart health and avoid the use of butter or canola oil in their meal preparation.

Neem Oil

Legendary in India for its health benefits, neem oil often replaces coconut oil in natural health remedies and cooking applications. This powerful oil has antiviral and antibacterial properties, and can even ward off insects when applied in cosmetic or skin care functions. It can prevent infections, reduce the appearance of acne, strengthen hair follicles and prevent hair loss.

Shea Butter

Shea butter is primarily associated with the skin and has become very popular in the past decade. However, it is also a thick cooking fat that can impart a number of benefits internally, such as protecting against atherosclerosis and heart issues, while also soothing the stomach and promoting rapid healing throughout the body. In addition to being used as a moisturizer around the world, shea butter also soothes burns, bites, eczema, psoriasis, cracked skin, and dry patches. Finally, it can provide your hair with a bright sheen and a healthy luster, and clear up split ends and unexplained hair loss.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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