A Harvard professor has condemned the trending superfood as “pure poison”, assuring us that it’s doing more harm than good.
Dr. Karin Michels fifty-minute youtube lecture titled “Coconut Oil and Other Nutritional Errors” has gone viral after she claimed the favourite fat is “one of the worst foods you can eat”.
The superfood status of coconut oil has come under scrutiny before, despite the coco-cult following and this German-language lecture has garnered a lot of attention from those who tout the health benefits of coconut oil.
As the Director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumour Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg and a professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Dr. Michels unpopular claims are well within her area of expertise.
According to Michels, not only does research show there are no significant health benefits to the consumption of coconut oil, but also, it is potentially more dangerous than other commonly condemned fatty foods, such as lard.
This is due to its high concentration of saturated fatty acids, which are well-known artery cloggers.
Any fats that are solid at room temperature, like butter and lard, contain high quantities of saturated fatty acids. Coconut oil seems to have escaped the bad rep which these other products have gained, despite having more saturated fats than most others. Instead, it has fallen into the category of superfood and is being used for everything from cooking oil to a coffee additive.
Some believers argue that although coconut oil is high in saturated fat – about 82 per cent – it contains 40 per cent lauric acid and behaves differently to other saturated fats when it comes to cholesterol.
Others say it is the most effective fat for appetite suppression, potentially helping people with obesity to lose weight.
Scientists, meanwhile, are still debating just how bad saturated fats are for our bodies – although Dr Michels is certainly clear about her position.
While the wider scientific jury is still out, many health professionals choose to caution against the consumption of saturated fats, instead, promoting unsaturated fats such as olive oil and rapeseed oil.
While the official verdict remains to be seen, it may be prudent to follow that age-old advice and just eat everything in moderation.