In Brief

Coconut oil is ‘pure poison’ says Harvard professor

Saturated fat in the ‘superfood’ makes it ‘one of the worst things you can eat’

A Harvard professor has poured scorn on the supposed health benefits of coconut oil, calling it “pure poison”.

Coconut oil “has had its profile boosted in recent years by health food advocates who claim it is healthier than other forms of fat”, says Sky News. “Some people even have a spoonful of it in their coffee or their smoothie because of the alleged health benefits.”

It is used in cooking and some people feed it to their pets, says the broadcaster.

But Dr Karin Michels, professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Institute for Prevention and Cancer Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg, said it is “one of the worst things you can eat”.

In a speech titled “Coconut Oil and other Nutritional Errors”, Michels said consumption of “so-called superfoods” such as coconut oil was unnecessary because “we already get enough nutrition from everyday foods like carrots, cherries and apricots”.

“We are well and sufficiently supplied,” she said.

The theory that coconut oil offers humans few to no significant health benefits is nothing new, Science Alert reports, but Michels asserts that coconut oil is “more dangerous” than lard because it almost “exclusively contains saturated fatty acids, ones that can clog the coronary arteries”.

Coconut oil is about 86% saturated fat, about a third more than butter, which is 52%. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) recommends opting for an unsaturated fat, such as vegetable oil or sunflower oil.

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