Coconut Oil, also known as coconut butter, is a tropical oil with many applications. It is extracted from copra (dried coconut). Coconut oil constitutes 7% percent of the total export income of the Philippines, the world's largest exporter of the product.
Coconut oil was developed as a commercial product by merchants in the South Seas and South Asia in the 1860's.
Coconut oil has a neutral effect on blood cholesterol, even in situation where coconut oil is the sole source of fat (George Blackburn M.D., Harvard Medical School).
There are two types of saturated fats. These are the MFCA (Medium Chain Fatty Acids) and LCFA (Long Chain Fatty Acids). The difference between the two types is that MCFA does not raise cholesterol while LCFA raises cholesterol. Coconut oil is composed mostly of MCFA, so it doesn't raise blood cholesterol nor does it increase the risk of heart disease. It is unlike animal fats, which are composed of LCFA and thus has the potential to raise cholesterol levels.
In a related study, using fresh or raw coconut oil, results showed that raw coconut oil is neutral and does not cause an increase in the level of cholesterol. Results also revealed that coconut oil increased the level of HDL (known as good cholesterol) and decreased the level of LDL (known as bad cholesterol) in humans.
Coconut oil is composed mostly of MCFA and it easily digested by the body and processed as energy rather than being stored by the body as fat. Other oils such as animal based fats or polyunsaturated oils such as Soya oil, corn and canola oil, contains LCFA, which promotes cholesterol and is stored easily as body fat.
Coconut oil is rich in Medium Chain Triglycerides which is known to have many health benefits, notably its anti-aging effects, potential anti-cancer effects and anti-microbial/anti-viral properties. Since coconut oil is rich in MCT, it promotes good health and quick healing.
Coconut oil is excellent as cooking oil. It withstand high temperatures and it does not breakdown easily compared to other oils. Unlike the polyunsaturated oils that easily combine with oxygen in air to become rancid, coconut oil has a natural resistance to oxidation.