Coconut oil is the rave right now, with hair, skin, and nutrition enthusiasts hailing it as a healthy fat.
But according to a medical professor at Harvard University, the “healthy” oil is actually “one of the worst foods you can eat”.
Dr Karin Michels described the oil as “pure poison” and claimed it is more likely to clog arteries than lard in a speech given in Germany last month.
The professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health – who also heads the tumour research centre at the University of Freiburg – made the claims in the 50-minute German lecture that has now become a viral hit on YouTube.
Her lecture, titled Coconut Oil and other Nutritional Errors, was widely shared by those concerned that coconut oil is actually not as healthy as was previously thought. Among other things, she told her audience that “coconut oil is pure poison,” and “it is one of the worst foods you can eat”, according to a translation by Business Insider.
The professor said the oil is worse than lard – made from pig fat – yet 70% of Americans believed it to be one of the healthiest oils available.
Dr Michels’ claims follow a move by the American Heart Association (AHA) last year to update its guidelines, which recommended that people avoid the saturated fatty acids found in coconut oil.
Health professionals are sceptical as there is no study that has shown any significant health benefits of coconut oil consumption.
According to Michels, coconut oil is more dangerous than lard because it almost exclusively contains saturated fatty acids, ones that can clog the coronary arteries. You can identify fats that contain large quantities of saturated fatty acids by checking to see whether they remain solid at room temperature, as is the case with butter or lard. Based on the fact that they contain a lot of unsaturated fatty acids, experts recommend olive or rapeseed oil as an alternative.