A Harvard professor has called the supposed health benefits of coconut oil into question by claiming that it’s just as bad for your wellbeing as “pure poison”.
The claim was made by Dr Karin Michels, professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumour Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg, during a speech titled: “Coconut Oil and other Nutritional Errors.”
In the speech given at the University of Freiburg, Dr Michels stated that coconut oil is “one of the worst foods you can eat” due to the damaging effect the saturated fatty acids in the coconut oil can have on your body.
This goes against the common belief that coconut oil is good for your health, as it’s previously been hailed as a “superfood” that can be used in the kitchen as a component of any meal.
Last year, the American Heart Association updated its guidelines in regard to the saturated fatty acids found in coconut oil, advising that people should replace the saturated fats in their diets with unsaturated fats instead in order to lower their risk of developing cardiovascular disease later on in life.
According to Dr Michels, consuming coconut oil is far more detrimental than lard, as coconut oil is predominantly made up of saturated fatty acids.
The NHS states that eating foods that contain saturated fatty acids can increase your risk of developing coronary heart disease, due to a rise in the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood.
In addition to coconut oil, other foods that are high in saturated fat include butter, hard cheese, ghee, sausages and meat pies.
On the other hand, foods that are high in unsaturated fat include oily fish, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and avocados.
Dr Michels’ speech regarding the harmful impact of consuming coconut oil has struck a chord with thousands of health-conscious individuals online, accumulating almost 800,000 views on YouTube.
However, while Dr Michels evidently believes strongly in the negative effects of coconut oil, health recommendations concerning whether or not to exclude saturated fats from your diet are less black and white.Whether or not to reduce one’s fat intake as part of a healthy diet has been a source of contention for quite some time, with a study published in The Lancet last year stating that following a low-fat diet can increase your risk of an early death by a quarter.
The British Heart Foundation states that more research is required on different types of fatty acids, despite the fact that guidelines in the UK currently suggest swapping saturated fats for unsaturated fats where possible.
Some people believe that coconut oil can be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, although the Alzheimer’s Society states that there isn’t enough evidence to support these claims.
Furthermore, many, including celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, utilise coconut oil by carrying out a technique called “oil pulling” in order to prevent tooth decay, which involves swishing coconut oil around the mouth for up to 20 minutes a day.