Chemical composition and health benefits of coconut oil: an overview

J Sci Food Agric. 2021 Apr;101(6):2182-2193. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.10870. Epub 2020 Oct 29.


Coconut oil is an integral part of Sri Lankan and many South Asian diets. Initially, coconut oil was classified along with saturated fatty acid food items and criticized for its negative impact on health. However, research studies have shown that coconut oil is a rich source of medium-chain fatty acids. Thus, this has opened new prospects for its use in many fields. Beyond its usage in cooking, coconut oil has attracted attention due to its hypocholesterolemic, anticancer, antihepatosteatotic, antidiabetic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and skin moisturizing properties. Despite all the health benefits, consumption of coconut oil is still underrated due to a lack of supportive scientific evidence. Even though studies done in Asian countries claim a favorable impact on cardiac health and serum lipid profile, the limitations in the number of studies conducted among Western countries impede the endorsement of the real value of coconut oil. Hence, long-term extensive studies with proper methodologies are suggested to clear all the controversies and misconceptions of coconut oil consumption. This review discusses the composition and functional properties of coconut oils extracted using various processing methods. © 2020 Society of Chemical Industry.

Keywords: coconut oil; composition; functional properties; medium-chain fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Coconut Oil / chemistry*
  • Coconut Oil / metabolism
  • Cocos / chemistry*
  • Cocos / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Health
  • Humans


  • Antioxidants
  • Fatty Acids
  • Coconut Oil