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Harvard Professor Says Coconut Oil is “Pure Poison”

Harvard Professor Says Coconut Oil is “Pure Poison”

Often praised as a healthy option and a great alternative to other oils and fats, coconut oil has been condemned by many health experts.

Harvard Professor Says Coconut Oil is “Pure Poison”

Coconut oil, as a cure for many ailments, has been rejected by a Harvard professor, along with other health professionals. 

Karin Michels, an epidemiologist at the Harvard TH Chan school of public health, has criticised the superfood movement, singling the fad of coconut oil out, calling it “one of the worst things you can eat”, and saying that it’s as good for you as “pure poison”.

Michels made her comments in a recent lecture entitled “Coconut oil and other nutritional errors” at the University of Freiburg, where she holds a second academic position as director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumour Epidemiology. The speech, delivered in German, has now been watched nearly a million times on YouTube.

Michels based her criticism on the high proportion of saturated fat in coconut oil, which is known to raise levels of so-called LDL cholesterol, and so the risk of cardiovascular disease. It contains more than 80% saturated fat – which is more than twice the amount found in lard.

Last year, the American Heart Association reviewed the evidence on coconut oil. While three-quarters of the US public considered coconut oil to be healthy, only 37% of nutritionists agreed. The authors attributed the misunderstanding in perception to the marketing of coconut oil and concluded with advising against using it.

Other organisations have issued similar warnings. “Coconut oil can be included in the diet, but as it is high in saturated fats should only be included in small amounts and as part of a healthy balanced diet,” the British Nutrition Foundation said. “There is to date no strong scientific evidence to support health benefits from eating coconut oil.”

Victoria Taylor, a senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said, “For the time being, if you like the taste of coconut oil, then, as with butter, it’s fine to use it every now and then. However, it’s best to restrict yourself to small amounts and use unsaturated oils as an everyday choice instead.”

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