RBD coconut oil is not as good for health as virgin coconut oil because it may carry relatively lesser lauric acid and other medium-chain fatty acids that can help to keep you strong and healthy. But if you compare it with other vegetable oils such as safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, peanut oil or even olive oil, RBD coconut oil has much more health benefits because it comprises mostly saturated fats and medium-chain fatty acids. It is a coconut oil after all. From this perspective, yes, RBD coconut oil is good for you.
So, what is RBD coconut oil actually?
The term "RBD" stands for refined, bleached and deodorized. Which means the coconut oil is a refined coconut oil that has gone through the process of bleaching and deodorization so that it'll look lighter in color (or even crystal clear as in the case of fractionated coconut oil) and taste odorless.
But why does it have to be bleached and deodorized?
It needs to be bleached because unlike virgin coconut oil that is obtained straight from fresh coconut meat and so its color is naturally crystal clear, refined coconut oil is usually made from copra, which is dried coconut meat that turns yellowish or even brownish during sun-drying, smoking, heating in a wood-fueled kiln or combination of these methods.
The substances that discolor the copra may come from the mold growing on it as well as the natural minerals in the meat itself during sun-drying. If you smoke-dry the meat, the copra will look even darker in color due to the smoke particles landing on the meat.
Those are impurities and contaminants that need to be removed in the oil-making process before you can deem the coconut oil fit for consumption.
Some people just simply do not like coconut oil to have its natural coconut odor, so manufacturers will run the oil through a series of processes such as heating, distillation and filtration to remove the odor. If the copra is smoke-dried, then all the more it needs to be deodorized or the smelly smoky stench will lurk in the coconut oil and makes it less pleasant for consumption.
The complex process that involves in the making of RBD coconut oil may make it look like it's bad for health because it's a refined coconut oil.
Like I said earlier, it's true that it is not as good as virgin coconut oil but you're better off eating it than consuming other vegetable oils or animal fats. So in a way, RBD coconut oil is still pretty good for health.
However, not all RBD coconut oils are good for you.
Some companies hydrogenate RBD coconut oil to make it more saturated so that it becomes more stable and has a longer shelf life.
Hydrogenation (particularly partial hydrogenation) may produce health-killing trans-fatty acids that could raise your risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancers. This type of RBD coconut oil is pretty commonly used in food industries but not so at health food stores.
Anyway, read the nutrition label carefully to make sure you don't get a hydrogenated RBD coconut oil that may ruin your health.
Another type of RBD coconut oil is called fractionated or MCT oil. This type had all its high-melting-point triglycerides removed, retaining only the low-melting-point triglycerides which are all medium-chain triglycerides so that it does not harden easily and hence, stays liquid even at some low climate regions.
This fractionated or MCT oil is good for you because it contains 100% medium-chain saturated fatty acids and so it is highly stable in itself and hence, needs no hydrogenation. However, because it composes mainly of caprylic and capric acids, its health benefits cannot match up to what virgin coconut oil provides.
Frankly speaking, I would always recommend virgin coconut oil for its stronger health benefits unless you really, really can't stand its natural coconut odor and need to call for RBD coconut oil.