Marketing of coconut oil has created the inaccurate belief that it is a "healthy food". Instead, studies have found that coconut oil consumption has health effects similar to those of other unhealthy fats, including butter, beef fat, and palm oil. Coconut oil contains a high amount of lauric acid, a saturated fat that raises total blood cholesterol levels by increasing the amounts of both high-density lipoprotein (HDL, "good") cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, "bad") cholesterol. Although lauric acid consumption may create a more favorable total blood cholesterol profile, this does not exclude the possibility that persistent consumption of coconut oil may actually increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases through other mechanisms, particularly via the marked increase in total blood cholesterol induced by lauric acid. Because the majority of saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, coconut oil may be preferred over partially hydrogenated vegetable oil when solid fats are used in the diet.
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