Long avoided because it was considered a source of harmful saturated fats, now coconut oil is starting to show on researches that may actually be a source of healthy fats, along with being a versatile ingredient.
Like all other plant-based oils, it doesn’t contain cholesterol. With the exception of palm kernel oil, all other common culinary oils, including canola, corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean, flaxseed, grape seed and extra-virgin olive oil, contain significantly less saturated fat than coconut oil. Hydrogenated oils and trans fats are especially unhealthy because they both raise our LDL or “bad” cholesterol while lowering our HDL or “healthy” cholesterol. However, coconut oil is a medium-chain saturated fatty acid. It has a higher smoking temperature than most polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils unlike olive oil which will oxidise at high temperatures, creating free radicals. If you’re preparing recipes that require high temperatures you should consider coconut oil for this type of cooking.
Though high in saturated fat, virgin coconut oil doesn’t contain trans fat, making it a better choice than trans fat-containing shortening. And for vegans or strict vegetarians, coconut oil offers a plant-based replacement for dairy butter as it is dairy free.