Coconut oil is a tropical vegetable oil made from the dried fruit (nut) of the coconut tree. It is a saturated fat and solid at room temperature. It is made up of 90% saturated fatty acids and 10% monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Saturated fatty acids undergo different metabolic fates depending on their chain length. Not all saturated fats are bad for you. Unlike long chain fatty acids (LCFAs) which are found in animal products like lard and butter, coconut oil is made up of approximately 65% medium chain fatty acid (MCFAs). MCFAs are absorbed differently into your body than LCFAs and therefore do not have the same effect on raising your cholesterol or increasing your risk for heart disease.
The fact that coconut oil is so high in MCFA is one of the many reasons why the oil has so many health benefits. Once digested, MCFAs go directly to the liver and are instantly converted to usable energy. On the other hand, LCFAs are carried to lipid deposits and accumulate as body fat.
More evidence is needed to determining the connection between coconut oil and reducing cholesterol. Although much research is still needed, the health-promoting properties of coconut oil are increasingly being recognized.