Conduct a quick search of this subject on your own and you may be left with less clarity than you started out with.
Being that I don't cook with either (I'm partial to ghee and lard), I was still curious to see for myself how each of these fats would hold up under a little heated experiment.
Now let me preface these results by saying that it's merely an observational test I did just for fun. Thats right, fun. I don't get out much these days. It's not to say that it proves anything, but it does get you questioning things and experimenting for yourself, which is what we need more of these days.
2 tablespoons each of extra virgin olive oil (top), virgin-unrefined coconut oil (left) and avocado oil (right).
10 minutes into it, I had to turn it down because the olive oil and avocado oil began to frequently pop.
13 minutes into it, all oils had shown signs of change in either color or smell.
Unheated, had a mild, almost neutral flavor and I could hardly detect a scent, the color is a light yellow.
Heated, it had maintained it's neutral flavor and there was no change in the scent, the color deepened slightly.
Unheated, it had a very strong (and pleasant) olive flavor, with an aroma to match it and a deep yellow/brown tone color.
Heated, that flavor and scent was clearly altered. While it didn't smell/taste bad or rancid, it also lost that quintessential flavor that you usually want when using olive oil in your food. The color remained yellow/brown and darkened a bit.
Unheated, (note: it was 92 degrees that day and these were taken outside-- coconut oil melts at 72*) it had almost a sweet coconut flavor and scent and the color was clear.
Heated, while it was the only one of the 3 that didn't pop and spark everywhere (not sure what that indicates), it was the first to show signs of slight color change at around 9 minutes. By 13 minutes, the color had turned a brown hue with some sediments found at the bottom and the flavor and scent had turned to a bitter taste and foul odor.
Well, that somewhat surprised me.
Like I said, I'm a fan of animal fats in the kitchen, so I only use coconut oil as a supplement eaten raw and olive oil is my go-to salad dressing, while avocado oil is what I use to make mayo. After this little test, I may be partial to using avocado oil where olive oil is called for in a recipe.
While these observations don't conclude that coconut oil shouldn't be used to cook with or that olive oil is safe to cook with, it just means that maybe there is more to it than we understand just yet.
This is especially why it's important to keep an open mind and always allow for a healthy amount of suspicion or curiosity to fuel your growth of knowledge.
Have you conducted any of your own tests using different fats in the kitchen? What's your go-to cooking fat and why?
Let me know in the comments below!