Coconut oil is truly the healthiest oil you can consume. It is rich in lauric acid, which is known for being antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal, and contains no trans fat (even olive oil has some trans fat). You can even use it on your skin to help prevent wrinkles.
Unfortunately, there is a widespread misconception that coconut oil is bad for you because it contains saturated fat. To really understand the benefits of coconut oil, I suggest you read Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon‘s article "The Truth About Saturated Fat" to first dispel any lingering notions you may have that all saturated fats are dangerous.
Fats are categorized as either short-, medium-, or long-chain depending on how many carbon molecules they contain. Close to two-thirds of the saturated fat in coconut oil is made up of medium-chain fatty acids, which have antimicrobial properties, are easily digested by the body for quick energy, and are beneficial to the immune system. Far from being dangerous, the saturated fat in coconut oil is actually health promoting.
So how could an oil that is so good for you have gotten such a bad reputation? The answer comes down to simple economics and politics. Based on some flawed studies performed over four decades ago, some of which used primarily hydrogenated coconut oils, a powerful anti-saturated fat movement began. Remember--hydrogenated oils are oils with trans-fatty acids, which have been altered from their original chemical composition and have been shown to raise cholesterol levels and lead to heart disease and other health problems. You should not consume hydrogenated oils, whether it is coconut or another vegetable oil.
Around this time the edible oil industry began to denounce all saturated fats and heavily promote polyunsaturated fats such as canola, soybean, safflower, corn, and other seed and nut oils. However, these oils easily become rancid when exposed to oxygen and produce large amounts of damaging free radicals in the body. What is not commonly known is that these oils can actually cause aging, clotting, inflammation, cancer and weight gain. You can read the article "Secrets of the Edible Oil Industry" for more information.
Fortunately, coconut oil has begun to gain some positive media exposure as researchers realize its health-promoting qualities. However, coconut oil can vary widely in terms of the types of coconuts used, the manufacturing processes used to make the oil, and more, and all of these factors play a major role in the effectiveness of the oil.
Most commercial coconut oils are RBD (refined, bleached, and deodorized). RBD oils do contain the medium chain fatty acids, however they also contain chemicals used in processing.
Because of these variations my team and I here researched coconut oil extensively until we found the ideal source. I now highly recommend and offer you what is clearly the premier brand of virgin coconut oil in the United States, Fresh Shores. This virgin coconut oil is not only certified organic, but it also met all our other requirements, including no GMO ingredients, bleaching, deodorizing, refining or hydrogenation. Tropical Traditions also uses fresh coconuts (not "copra" or dried coconuts like most oils) that come from a rural region of the Philippines untainted by urban pollution.