Coconut oil consists almost entirely of saturated fat — about 92% — which sounds pretty bad on the surface. But not all saturated fats are created equal. As the old saying goes, “some are more equal than others.” Coconut oil actually helps you lose weight and stay healthy in ways that no other fat can match.

In particular, note that:

  • Coconut oil is good for cooking, because saturated fat is not harmed by heat — unlike unsaturated oils, as explained in What’s Wrong with Partially Hydrogenated Oils?
  • Coconut oil does not contain the trans fats that produce insulin-resistance, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases, as described in in Trans Fats: Metabolic Poisons.
  • Coconut oil does not contain the oxidized cholesterol (produced by hydrogenation and high-heat processing) that are responsible for heart disease and stroke, as explained in The Cholesterol Scam.
  • Coconut oil consists primarily of medium-chain fatty acids, which are metabolized very differently, so they’re burned as fuel rather than stored as fat.
  • Perhaps even more importantly, medium-chain fatty acids are potent anti-microbial agents.
  • Coconut oil was used in food products for centuries. It was only replaced by partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (most often by hydrogenated soybean oil) in recent decades, during which time levels of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity have reached epidemic proportions.

Notes:

  • Coconut oil and fractionated palm kernel oil are very similar, and come from different parts of the same plant. They are stable at room temperature, so they don’t need to be refrigerated.
  • Throughout this article, “coconut oil” means virgin coconut oil — oil that has not been refined, bleached, or deodorized. Although none of that processing is necessary, some manufacturers do it anyway, which produces the same problems as those associated with hydrogenated oils. (The 8% of unsaturated fats that coconut oil contains can be damaged by such high-heat processing.) So when you shop, look for virgin coconut oil — oil that isn’t bleached, refined, or deodorized.