Coconut oil may help improve the amount of HDL cholesterol, but it also raises the level of LDL cholesterol, reports WebMD. Refined and deodorized bleached coconut oil, more common during the 1980s, increases unhealthy cholesterol levels, but virgin coconut oil does not, states Meredith Melnick of The Huffington Post.
Unlike most saturated fats, coconut oil does not contain cholesterol, according to WebMD. It contains a myriad of fatty acids, including myristic and lauric acids. While myristic acid is considered heart-friendly, lauric is not, which explains why coconut oil can affect both good and bad cholesterol. WebMD hesitates to label coconut oil as being healthy or unhealthy, stating that although LDL cholesterol is a major factor in heart disease, so is HDL cholesterol, so neither type can be studied in isolation to determine whether someone is at risk for heart disease.
Although WebMD cautions against believing that coconut oil is a cure-all, Melnick points out that by 2014 coconut oil is used as a butter substitute, smoothie topper, beauty treatments and other things. Virgin coconut oil is believed to aid in weight loss, improve immune system function, and prevent Alzheimer's. Until further research is done on virgin coconut oil and its effects on cholesterol, WebMD recommends that people use unsaturated fats to cook with such as olive oil instead.