Is Coconut Oil Going to Raise Your Cholesterol

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Coconut oil’s saturated fat content is high, but does that mean it will raise your cholesterol levels and is that bad for your health? 

Yes, coconut oil can raise cholesterol—but that’s not necessarily a bad thing! 

In fact, coconut oil is incredibly healthy for you and should be a staple in your diet.

dietary coconut oil

What is coconut oil?

Coconut oil is made from fresh coconut meat that is pressed into an oil. 

Virgin coconut oil is cold-pressed and never heated, while refined coconut oil is typically made from dried coconut and is processed with heat to remove some of the coconut flavor.

Coconut oil is rich in saturated fatty acids called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These fats are different from other saturated fats. 

MCTs are quickly metabolized by the body and do not require the help of your gallbladder to be broken down. They are quickly converted into ketones and used by the body for energy rather than stored as body fat. 

Coconut oil is a healthier alternative to oils like safflower oil, soybean oil, canola oil, and other vegetable oils. It has a high smoke point and can also be used in recipes to replace dairy fats like butter. 

Will coconut oil raise my cholesterol? 

Coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat and 10% unsaturated fat. This causes people to worry that it will raise their blood cholesterol levels. 

Although it may, that’s not always a bad thing! Coconut oil raises your HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Elevated HDL cholesterol protects against cardiovascular disease.

The saturated fat in coconut oil is beneficial to your health and does not increase your risk for stroke, heart disease, or high blood pressure. 

Studies claiming that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease or other heart-related issues are usually done using mice that consume considerable amounts of glucose or sucrose in their diets.

Saturated fat is crucial for calcium metabolism in your bones, hormone production, and a healthy immune system. Consuming saturated fat raises cholesterol levels, but cholesterol also plays an important role in your body. 

There is no evidence connecting cholesterol or coconut oil to an increased risk of heart attack.

High cholesterol doesn’t refer to your total cholesterol. High cholesterol typically means that your LDL cholesterol levels (low-density lipoproteins) are high. There are actually two types of LDL cholesterol—large, buoyant LDL particles and small, dense LDL particles. 

Small, dense LDL can invade the walls of your arteries and cause inflammation and other issues with your circulatory system. This type of cholesterol is actually unrelated to dietary fat—it’s related to high-carb diets. 

Removing carbohydrates from your diet won’t lower cholesterol, but it will change the type of cholesterol that you have. 

If you aren’t consuming carbs, you’ll have the large, buoyant LDL particles, which won’t cause you any issues. An advanced lipid profile test can show you a breakdown of your cholesterol levels.

Monounsaturated fat

Are there bad types of fat?

While fat is an important part of a healthy diet, there are types of fats that you’ll want to avoid. 

Trans fats are not good for your health, so be sure to check the nutrition labels on packaged foods. They are often found in margarine, so choose healthier options like butter or coconut oil.

This study examines the effect of different types of fats on cholesterol. Eliminating saturated fat from the diet did not have a significant effect on small, dense LDL cholesterol levels. 

Health benefits of coconut oil

Essential fatty acids cannot be made by the body; they have to come from a food source. 

Coconut oil provides the body with essential fatty acids, dietary saturated fats, and long-chain fatty acids, which have some incredible health benefits. It’s also an amazing beauty product! 

Here are some of the benefits of coconut oil:

  • Rich in lauric acid, an important fatty acid

  • Excellent source of medium-chain fatty acids 

  • Improves cognitive function

  • Has antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties

  • Supports HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol)

  • Excellent for the skin and hair

  • Boosts fat loss

  • Excellent source of energy

  • Provides dental benefits when used for oil pulling 

Coconut milk provides similar benefits and is also keto-friendly. Other oils like MCT oil and palm oil are very similar to coconut oil and can act as a replacement.

Both are rich in saturated fatty acids and help to raise HDL cholesterol and lower insulin.

Spoon of coconut oil

Key takeaways

Dietary fats are incredibly important to your health, especially if you’re on a keto diet. 

Claims that saturated fats lead to heart disease are largely flawed and ignore the influence of carbohydrates, insulin, and high-sugar diets. 

Coconut oil is a healthy fat that will support balanced cholesterol levels and promote a healthy body.


1. Is coconut oil bad for my cholesterol?

No, coconut oil is not bad for your cholesterol. Coconut oil raises HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol, which has protective properties against heart disease. 

2. Does coconut oil contain bad cholesterol?

No, coconut oil does not contain any cholesterol. 

3. Is all LDL cholesterol bad?

No, it’s a common misconception that all LDL cholesterol is bad. There are two types of LDL cholesterol—large, buoyant and small, dense. Small, dense LDL can damage your arteries and cause inflammation. This type of cholesterol doesn’t come from saturated fat—it comes from carbohydrates. 

4. Can I have coconut oil on a keto diet?

Yes, coconut oil should be a staple in a Healthy Keto® diet! It is an excellent source of healthy fat and can provide an immediate source of energy for ketone production. 

5.  Is coconut oil healthy?

Yes! Coconut oil has antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. You can choose refined or virgin coconut oil—both have similar properties and are excellent for your health.

6. Can I have coconut oil every day?

Absolutely. There is no problem with having coconut oil every day. Coconut oil is a great way to increase your saturated fat intake if you’re following a ketogenic diet.

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