Published: Fri, August 24, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Coconut oil 'pure poison' says Harvard professor

Coconut oil 'pure poison' says Harvard professor

Though often touted as a health food, there is no scientific evidence showing significant health benefits of coconut oil consumption.

If you add coconut oil to your morning smoothie, stir fry your veggies in it, or swish it around in your mouth in the name of your oral hygiene, you're probably not thrilled by Harvard professor Dr. Karin Michels' recent declaration that coconut oil is "pure poison".

Numerous health claims surrounding coconut oil rely on animal studies or research not meant to test the stuff as a part of the human diet.

But Dr Karin Michels, professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Institute for Prevention and Cancer Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg, said it is "one of the worst things you can eat".

The ascent of coconut oil sales started in the early 2000s, on the heels of two research by Columbia University, which looked at medium-chain fatty acids, a type of fat present in coconuts.

According to Michels, coconut oil is more unsafe than lard because it nearly exclusively contains saturated fatty acids, the kind that can clog the coronary arteries.

Michels' lecture challenges advice being peddled online by so-called health gurus, which has caused confusion among the public if coconut oil should really be considered as "superfood".

"We are well and sufficiently supplied", she said, according to a translation of her German address.

The bottom line is this: coconut oil is an unhealthful food, and you'd be better off rubbing it on your skin, he said.

USA Today reported 82 percent of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, which is way above that in butter (63 percent).

What is known is that coconut oil is high in saturated fats - which can raise the cholesterol in your blood putting you at an increased risk for heart disease.

Health expert has claimed "superfood" coconut oil is actually not healthy at all.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that people who routinely consume cheese, whole milk and other high-fat dairy products - in essence, products high in unsaturated fatty acids - are at no higher risk of dying from a heart attack, stroke or other illness than those who avoid such products.

Its superfood status had already come under scrutiny past year when the American Heart Association (AHA) updated its guidelines, recommending people avoid the saturated fatty acids found in coconut oil.

When it comes to cooking, experts recommend olive or rapeseed oil as alternatives given they contain more unsaturated fatty acids. In fact, just one tablespoon of the oil contains 120 calories, which is the same amount as a large apple of four cups of plain air-popped popcorn.

Coconut oil had a peculiar rise to popularity, the Daily Mail reports.

The bottom line, Majumdar told Live Science, is that coconut oil is fine - say it with us - in moderation.

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