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Coconut oil: 9 or 6 calories per gram?

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  • Coconut oil: 9 or 6 calories per gram?

    Having putzed around the perimeter of coconut oil off and on for a few years, I was astounded to learn the other day that coconut oil has only 6.8 calories per gram instead of the usual 9! Boosters call it six, rounded down. Google "coconut oil" "6 calories", lots of sites supporting this. Even that any fat laid down from coconut is easier to remove because it has only about 2/3rds the calories. Allegedly this is due to being a medium chain fatty acid instead of long chain.

    But if you go to your bottle of 365 brand (Whole Foods house) of virgin coconut oil, it says 120 calories per TBL, 14 grams of fat. My calculator says that's 8.6 calories per gram. And if you look at any of the vegetable fat's nutritional data, they all say that, give or take a calorie. (The same numbers are on a bottle of refined CO that I'm almost through with.) So, my questions are:

    1. Is the oft used figure of 9 calories per gram of fat from any source really closer to 8.5?

    2. If coconut oil is really 6.8, why doesn't the label show 95 calories? Is it federal regulations presuming all oils are the same and the distributors of CO can't do otherwise? Or their own ignorance?

    3. If regular oils are really 8.5 and coconut oil 6.8, what effect does this 20% less have on our metabolism and diets?

  • #2

    I found a source for that 6.8kcal/g. That's if you separated out just the shortest of the medium chain fatty acids, caprylic (C8) and capric (C10). The bulk of the fatty acid content comes from lauric acid (C12) though. MCT oil, which really is just a separation of those two fatty acids, is 6.8 kcal/g.

    Due to this, however, the actual energy of coconut oil is 8.75-8.8 kcal/g. I think anything that marks it as 9 is probably just a rounding error, because it would be inappropriate to round down to 8.5 there (0.5 being the step size on nutrition labels).

    It might mean something if you're a calorie counter, or want MCT oil because it's rapidly metabolized (for endurance exercise, maybe), but lauric acid has some nice effects, including antimicrobial properties, so I'd like to eat the whole thing.

    Some discussion here:


    • #3

      Thanks for the edification, Nick. If you google as I suggested, all the pages I read just say it is flat out 6 or 6.8 cal/gram. No qualifications. Apparently 9 (rounded up, as you say) is the way to calculate. Just like any other oil.


      • #4

        Been a fan of cc oil for a long time, good find, thanks for sharing.