The oil – associated with India in large part – gained superfood status around 2011 among much of the healthy set in the West – it became a fad in the US – as it was seen as boosting immunity and helping with weight loss. But by coconut oil has taken a beating, and it looks like it’s only downhill for its reputation.
“I can only warn you urgently about coconut oil. This is one of the worst foods you can eat,” said the Harvard faculty member Karin Michels in her video talk in German, which was titled “Coconut oil and other nutritional errors. And then she said, “coconut oil is pure poison”, and repeated that claim – “pure poison” – as many as three times during her talk, reported Sciencealert.com.
Michels’s reasoning is that coconut oil – very popular in southern India, especially in Kerala – is extremely high in saturated fat, consumption of which leads to high cholesterol and heart disease. The American Heart Association said its data has shown more than 80 percent of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, a lot higher than in butter (63 percent), beef fat (50 percent) and pork lard (39 percent).
Another Harvard professor, at the university’s School of Public Health, said oils high in saturated fat raise an individual’s ‘bad’ cholesterol; yes, there’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol.
“Too much saturated fat in the diet is unhealthy because it raises ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease. So it would seem that coconut oil would be bad news for our hearts,” said Harvard Health Letter, published Wednesday.
Michels, of “coconut oil is pure poison”, fame is an adjunct professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Curiously, in her university’s newsletter, called Harvard Health Letter, Walter C. Willett, a doctor at Harvard School of Public Health, added that coconut oil is not all bad.
“What’s interesting about coconut oil is that it also gives ‘good’ HDL cholesterol a boost. Fat in the diet, whether it’s saturated or unsaturated, tends to nudge HDL levels up, but coconut oil seems to be especially potent at doing so,” it said.
Willet did add though that while “there’s no problem using coconut oil occasionally…for now, I’d use coconut oil sparingly.”
Just because something isn’t as bad is something else doesn’t mean it’s good, said Willet.