Coconut oil is 'pure poison' that increases your cholesterol, says expert

For quite a lot of wellbeing websites and health food shops, coconut oil is like the panacea that helps everything from bad hair and mental grogginess to obesity and hemorrhoids


                            Coconut oil is 'pure poison' that increases your cholesterol, says expert
(Source:Getty Images)

For a  umber of wellbeing websites and health food shops, coconut oil is like the panacea that helps everything from bad hair and mental grogginess to obesity and hemorrhoids. However, the carefully-crafted image of this uber-useful oil has now been roundly rejected by a Harvard professor.

Karin Michels, who is an epidemiologist at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, has singled out the fad for coconut oil, calling the substance “one of the worst things you can eat” that was as good for one's wellbeing as “pure poison.” She made her comments in a recent lecture which was titled as “Coconut oil and other nutritional errors” at the University of Freiburg. This is also the place where Michels holds a second academic position as director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumour Epidemiology.

Michels' speech, which was delivered in German, has since been watched over a million times on YouTube. According to Michels, coconut oil has a high proportion of saturated fat, which is known to raise levels of so-called LDL cholesterol, followed by the risk of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, coconut oil is also known to contain more than 80% saturated fat, which is the equivalent of more than twice the amount found in lard, and 60% more than what is found in beef dripping.

It was only last year that the American Heart Association reviewed the evidence for coconut oil among other foods, and wherein three-quarters of the US public considered coconut oil to be healthy, the review noted that only 37% of nutritionists agreed. “Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD, and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil,” the review concluded.

Even other organizations have issued similar warnings about coconut oil in the past. “Coconut oil can be included in the diet, but as it is high in saturated fats should only be included in small amounts and as part of a healthy balanced diet,” the British Nutrition Foundation said. “There is to date no strong scientific evidence to support health benefits from eating coconut oil.”

“Coconut oil is about 86% saturated fat, about one-third more saturated fat than butter,” said Victoria Taylor, a senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation. “We know that diets high in saturated fat are associated with increased non-HDL cholesterol in the blood, and high cholesterol is a risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke."

“There has been speculation that some of the saturated fat present in coconut oil may be better for us than other saturated fats, but so far there is not enough good-quality research to provide us with a definitive answer. What we do know is that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats like vegetable oil, olive oil and sunflower oil, and their spreads, has been shown as an effective way to help reduce LDL cholesterol levels, so this would be a healthier choice."

She further added, “For the time being, if you like the taste of coconut oil, then, as with butter, it’s fine to use it every now and then. However, it’s best to restrict yourself to small amounts and use unsaturated oils as an everyday choice instead.”