Coconut Oil Is Healthy, Says New York Times
Coconut oil tastes great in vegan baked goods and makes many a raw food recipe possible, but many doctors warn against the oil for its high (cholesterol-raising) saturated fat content, banishing the stuff to the back of the cupboards. Luckily for us Babycakes fans, the New York Times says those doctors weren't all right: They say coconut oil is now a health food, thanks to scientists who've shown that the saturated fats in virgin coconut oil aren't as bad for you as other saturated fats.
Previous studies focused on partially hydrogenated coconut oil, which doesn't contain the same fats as virgin coconut oil, which hasn't been chemically treated the same way. And according to a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, not all saturated fats have the same effect on cholesterol:
The main saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid. Lauric acid increases levels of good HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, and bad LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, in the blood, but is not thought to negatively affect the overall ratio of the two.
Some coconut oil fanatics insist that the oil is beneficial for cholesterol levels, much like olive oil. While it's probably not safe to assume that they're right, the above information implies that it probably isn't so bad for cholesterol, either. (At least when consumed in small amounts.)
So go forth and bake with coconut oil, just make sure it's virgin (and don't eat it by the gallon).