coconut oil

A Harvard professor bashed a millennials’ favorite superfoods – coconut oil. This occurred during a 50-minute lecture in Germany. The video has gone viral on YouTube.

The professor argued that the oil, loaded with saturated fats, is “one of the worst foods you can eat” and even called it “pure poison.”

The director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumor Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg and professor of the department of epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Karin Michels gave the lecture. She spoke about the health myths that surround coconut oil and stated that it is truly not healthy in the basic American diet.

In 2017, the American Heart Association (AHA) updated their dietary guidelines and recommended that people avoid saturated fats, such as those found in coconut oil.

The oil does have some qualities that make it seem like a healthy food. It is rich in lauric acid, which is a fatty acid that the body processes differently than other saturated fats. Lauric acid helps the oil raise HDL, the beneficial cholesterol more than other fats. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that suggests coconut oil lowers the risk of heart disease. Moreover, it may contribute to heart disease due to its saturated fat content.

A 2016 review of 21 studies that examined the effects of coconut oil or coconut products on cholesterol level determined that coconut oil raised HDL and LDL cholesterol levels more than unsaturated fats, but not as much as butter.

“Coconut oil is more dangerous than lard because it almost exclusively contains saturated fatty acids, the kind that can clog the coronary arteries,” according to Michels.

Proponents of coconut oil often reference the healthy lifestyles of indigenous populations in Sri Lanka, India, Polynesia, and the Philippines. These people have diets that include large amounts of coconut. However, their diet also contains more vegetables, fish, and fruits than a typical American diet. This makes a direct comparison unfair.

Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are the healthiest type of saturated fat. Most oil that is commercially available has 13 to 14 percent MCT, which means one would have to eat 150 grams, or 10 tablespoons of coconut oil to reap the benefits. This portion size negates and benefits by having to ingest so much saturated fat.

There are several studies that show unsaturated fat, especially olive oil, can possibly lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Most health claims about coconut oil have been exaggerated, according to ZME Science.

By Jeanette Smith


ZME Science: Coconut oil may be a dangerous health fad, Harvard professor calls it ‘pure poison’

Featured Image Courtesy of Jennifer Fortune Shirley’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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