Harvard professor calls coconut oil ‘pure poison’

If you want to stir up controversy among those natural health lovers, try calling coconut oil “pure poison.”

That’s what Karin Michels, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, did back in July.

In a lecture delivered at the University of Freiburg, where she holds the position of director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumour Epidemiology, Michels’ message was simple: coconut oil “is one of the worst foods you can eat.”

A YouTube clip of her speech, delivered entirely in German, has now been watched nearly a million times.

Her remarks seem to have stunned those who thought that coconut oil was a naturally occurring fat that even offers health benefits, such as aiding digestion, reducing the risk for heart disease, and boosting the immune system.

In fact, a 2016 New York Times survey found that 72 per cent of Americans consider coconut oil a “healthy food,” even though only 37 per cent of dietitians do. But in her lecture, Michels insists the belief that coconut oil is healthier than other oils is “absolute nonsense.”

Though the video has gone viral, Michels is hardly the first to try to debunk the hype surrounding coconut oil.

Many large public health organizations, such as Canada’s Heart and Stroke Foundation, the World Health Organization, and Dietitians of Canada have noted that coconut oil is high in saturated fat and advise limiting its use.

Other Harvard professors have said much the same as Michels, though perhaps without calling it a “poison.”

But coconut oil supporters insist that much of the saturated fat in coconut oil is made up of fatty acids that are easier to digest than the long-chain fatty acids in other oils such as butter. They also note that coconut oil makes up a large portion of the diet of people in countries such as the Philippines and Polynesia.

Last year, the American Heart Association addressed these claims, saying that while the makeup of coconut oil is different from other fats, it is still mostly saturated fat, which is strongly linked to the development of heart disease.

What’s more, they said, coconut oil, “has no known offsetting favourable effects.”

As for why so many believe coconut oil is healthy, the AHA panel suggested it all comes down to marketing.

“This disconnect between lay and expert opinion can be attributed to the marketing of coconut oil in the popular press,” the report authors wrote.

The AHA’s stand on coconut oil was part of a report the group issued to reiterate why it has long recommended limiting saturated fat, even amid studies suggesting foods such as butter may not be so bad after all.

Neither the AHA nor the Heart and Stroke Foundation call coconut oil a “poison.” Even saturated fat can be an occasional part of a healthy diet, they say.

But they recommend replacing butter, lard and coconut oil more often with healthier, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil, in order to prevent heart disease.

Source: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/why-a-harvard-professor-calls-coconut-oil-pure-poison-1.4066411

Photo Dana Tentis/ Pexels

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