Lauric acid (systematically: dodecanoic acid), the saturated fatty acid with a 12-carbon atom chain, is a white, powdery solid with a faint odor of bay oil or soap. Lauric acid, as a component of triglycerides, comprises about half of the fatty acid content in coconut oil and in palm kernel oil (not to be confused with palm oil), Otherwise it is relatively uncommon. It is also found in human breast milk (6.2% of total fat), cow's milk (2.9%), and goat's milk (3.1%).
Lauric acid has been found to increase total cholesterol the most of all fatty acids. But most of the increase is attributable to an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) "good" cholesterol. As a result, lauric acid has "a more favorable effect on total:HDL cholesterol than any other fatty acid, either saturated or unsaturated"; a lower total/HDL cholesterol ratio suggests a decrease in atherosclerotic risk.