Coconut oil is “pure poison” and “is one of the worst foods you can eat”, according to a Harvard professor.
In a speech given at the University of Freiburg in Germany, Dr Karin Michels suggested the oil isn’t deserving of its healthy reputation, due to it containing high levels of unsaturated fatty acids.
She claimed the oil, which can be used for anything from cooking curry to roasting parsnips, is more unhealthy than traditional lard, according to a translation by Business Insider.
Dr Michels reportedly went on to say so-called “superfoods” are pointless, because the vitamins we need to be healthy can be gained from bog-standard fruit and veg.
“We are well and sufficiently supplied,” she said, according to the translation.
Coconut oil contains around 86% saturated fat and around one-third more saturated fat than butter at 52%, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF). Diets high in saturated fat are known to be linked to increased risk of heart disease, stroke and high cholesterol.
“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,” BHF dietitian Victoria Taylor said.
“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 [low density lipoprotein] cholesterol levels, so this would be a healthier choice.”
Registered Nutritionist Laura Thomas has also previously questioned the health benefits of coconut oil.
“Coconut oil evangelists rave that it ‘boosts metabolism’, makes your skin ‘glow’, (presumably in the dark?), is heart healthy, prevents dementia, reduces cholesterol, helps you lose weight, boosts the immune system, cures diabetes, Crohn’s disease and IBS. Not to be a total downer, but it’s all BS,” she wrote in a blog on HuffPost UK.
“So, if it’s your thing, use coconut oil to take off your makeup but leave it the f*ck out of your smoothies [...] If you must use it in cooking, use the least amount possible. Capisce?”