If you’re a big fan of coconut oil, there is a good chance you have used it for cooking, skin care, and you may have even added it to your coffee. Yet the debate over the substance is heating up once again, with a professor from Harvard University’s School of Health claiming that coconut oil is actually pure poison.
Dr. Karin Michels went as far as to claim that coconut oil is one of the worst foods you can eat, and that it is far more dangerous than butter or lard. And Michels is not the first person to question the power of coconut oil…
Last year, the American Heart Association published a study advising the public to stay away from the substance altogether. A presidential advisory from the AHA focusing on dietary fats and cardiovascular disease stated:
“Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of cardiovascular disease, and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil.”
The AHA’s claim stems from the fact that the substance contains a high percentage of saturated fat. At least 82 percent of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, compared with 62 percent in butter and 39 percent in pork lard.
Now the questions remain over whether saturated fat is really bad for you. Registered Dietitian Diana Rodgers said that she is not nearly as concerned about the coconut oil fad as she is about the trend to push products that are labeled as “low fat.”
“Those are the types that drive us to overeat because they’re hyper-palatable and those are what cause inflammation and they’re driving our obesity epidemic, so I actually think our fear of saturated fat is a huge problem in our society,” Rodgers said.
Critics of the claims against coconut oil have also noted that the American Heart Association is funded by a series of donors, and the companies that are certified as “heart healthy” by the AHA have to pay for the organization’s seal of approval.
For example, General Mills’ Cheerios is a long-time sponsor of the AHA, and it has also been labeled by the association as a “heart healthy” food.
Yet Cheerios was also one of the popular breakfast cereals that were recently found to have traces of glyphosate, a chemical found in weed killer that may cause cancer.
As for the diehard coconut oil fans, an article from Harvard Medical School claimed that:
“A diet rich in saturated fats can drive up total cholesterol, and tip the balance toward more harmful LDL cholesterol, which prompts blockages to form in arteries in the heart and elsewhere in the body. For that reason, most nutrition experts recommend limiting saturated fat to under 10% of calories a day.”
The article also noted that a meta-analysis of 21 studies found that there was not enough evidence to conclude that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease. So while there may not be proof that coconut oil is truly “pure poison,” it is best to consume it in moderation.