Smoothies have become an increasingly popular way to get a nutritious breakfast or snack on the go. Blending together fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other ingredients into a cold, refreshing drink is an easy way to pack in vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
Benefits of Adding Coconut Oil to Smoothies
One ingredient that is commonly added to smoothies is coconut oil. Coconut oil has grown in popularity in recent years thanks to its many health benefits. Here are some of the main reasons you may want to add coconut oil to your smoothies:
- Healthy fats – Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are a type of beneficial saturated fat. MCTs are efficiently metabolized for energy and less likely to be stored as fat.
- Antimicrobial properties – Lauric acid in coconut oil has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal effects that support immune function.
- Digestion – The MCTs in coconut oil can improve digestion and absorption of nutrients. The lauric acid in coconut oil can also support gut health.
- Vitamins and minerals – Coconut oil supplies vitamins E and K as well as iron, zinc, calcium, and phosphorus.
- Metabolism – Studies show MCTs may slightly increase metabolism and promote fat loss compared to long-chain triglycerides.
- Endurance – The MCTs in coconut oil provide an efficient energy source and are less likely to be stored as fat, making them ideal for fat burning and endurance.
How Much Coconut Oil Should You Add to a Smoothie?
When adding coconut oil to smoothies, moderation is key. Here are some tips on how much to use:
- Start with 1 teaspoon (4 grams) per serving and adjust up or down from there.
- Limit coconut oil to no more than 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 grams) per smoothie.
- Pay attention to calories – coconut oil has 117 calories per tablespoon.
- Reduce other high-calorie ingredients if adding more coconut oil.
- Aim for a total of 300-500 calories per smoothie meal.
The ideal amount can vary based on your smoothie ingredients, meal size, and health goals. It’s best to start low with coconut oil and gradually increase over time while assessing your body’s response.
How to Add Coconut Oil to Smoothies
There are a couple of ways you can add coconut oil to smoothies:
1. Blend Straight Into the Smoothie
Add coconut oil straight into your blender with the rest of your ingredients and blend until smooth. The motion of the blender will help to emulsify the oil with the other liquids. This is the easiest method.
2. Mix with Smoothie Ingredients
Measure out the coconut oil first and mix it with your powdered ingredients like cocoa powder, protein powder, nut butters, or soft fruits. The powders will help absorb the oil. Then add your liquids and blend.
Best Smoothie Ingredients to Use with Coconut Oil
Coconut oil pairs well with many ingredients commonly used in smoothies. Some of the best include:
- Fruits – banana, pineapple, mango, berries, avocado
- Leafy greens – spinach, kale
- Nut butters – almond butter, peanut butter
- Nuts and seeds – chia seeds, walnuts, almonds
- Milks – almond milk, coconut milk, cow’s milk
- Yogurt – Greek yogurt, coconut yogurt
- Cocoa powder, cacao powder
- Vanilla extract
- Protein powder – whey, plant-based
Experiment with your favorite ingredients to find tasty combinations that work for you.
Smoothie Recipes with Coconut Oil
Here are some delicious smoothie recipes that use coconut oil:
Tropical Green Smoothie
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 cup spinach
- 1/4 cup pineapple chunks
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
Berry Coconut Smoothie
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
- 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
Potential Drawbacks of Coconut Oil in Smoothies
While coconut oil can be a nutritious addition to smoothies for most people, there are some potential drawbacks to keep in mind:
- High in saturated fat – Coconut oil is over 90% saturated fat. This type of fat, in excess, may increase LDL cholesterol levels.
- High in calories – At 117 calories per tablespoon, coconut oil is very calorie-dense. Too much can lead to unwanted weight gain.
- May cause digestive issues – Some people report diarrhea or stomach pains from eating too much coconut oil.
- Risk of lipid pneumonia – Consuming coconut oil before intense exercise may increase the risk of breathing fats into the lungs.
- Not ideal for high-fat diets – People following a high-fat, very low-carb ketogenic diet may want to minimize added fats.
As with any food, your individual tolerance may vary. Start with small amounts of coconut oil in your smoothies and watch for any adverse reactions.
Should You Use Refined or Unrefined Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil comes in refined and unrefined varieties. Here’s how to choose which type to use:
Refined Coconut Oil
- Neutral in flavor
- Higher smoke point – better for cooking
- Lower antioxidant content
- Less coconutty aroma and taste
Unrefined (Virgin or Extra Virgin) Coconut Oil
- Rich coconut flavor and aroma
- Lower smoke point – better for low heat
- Higher antioxidant content
- May impart coconut flavor to smoothies
For smoothies, unrefined coconut oil is usually preferable, since the extra nutrients and coconut flavor are ideal. But both varieties can work.
Storing Leftover Coconut Oil Smoothies
Here are some tips for storing smoothies made with coconut oil:
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 24-48 hours.
- Coconut oil may solidify and separate when chilled. Reblend or shake before drinking.
- Add extra ice cubes if storing over 8 hours to prevent dilution as ice melts.
- Consider freezing in popsicle molds for a shelf-stable frozen smoothie treat.
- Freeze in serving portions up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in fridge before drinking.
Properly stored, smoothies with coconut oil can maintain their texture, flavor, and nutrition for 1-2 days when refrigerated.
Can You Use Coconut Oil in Store Bought Smoothies?
Many stores like juice bars and coffee shops now sell fresh smoothies. But can you customize them by adding coconut oil?
Here are some tips on adding coconut oil to store-bought smoothies:
- Ask first – Some places may not allow custom add-ins or outside ingredients.
- Start small – Add just 1 teaspoon oil to judge texture and taste.
- Stir vigorously – Blend the oil in thoroughly or shakes well before drinking.
- Top instead of blend – Drizzle a little coconut oil on top if unable to blend into the smoothie.
- Watch texture – Coconut oil can make smoothies thicker. Adjust other ingredients as needed.
- Consider shelf life – Added oils may shorten the fridge life of premade smoothies.
With proper mixing, coconut oil can be a beneficial addition to fresh made smoothies from juice shops or cafes.
Should You Use Coconut Oil in Protein Shakes?
Coconut oil can also be added to protein shakes and meal replacement shakes. Here are some tips for using coconut oil in shakes:
- Use sparingly – 1 tablespoon or less per shake.
- Mix with powder first – Combine with protein powder, cocoa, etc before adding liquids.
- Shake vigorously before drinking – Coconut oil and liquids may separate.
- Mind texture – Some protein powders thicken a lot with added fats. Adjust liquid as needed.
- Boost calories & energy – Coconut oil provides a quick energy boost.
- Enhance flavor – Imparts a mild coconut flavor.
Overall, coconut oil can be a tasty and nutritious addition to protein shakes. Add small amounts at a time to find the ideal ratio for your shake recipe.
The Bottom Line
Adding a tablespoon or two of coconut oil to your morning smoothie or shake can be an easy way to increase healthy fats, calories, and flavors. The best practice is to start with small amounts and adjust slowly based on your individual tolerance and nutrition goals. Make sure to store properly and mix well before drinking. When used moderately, coconut oil can be a beneficial boost to most homemade blended beverages.