Professor's Criticism of Coconut Oil Goes Viral

Coconut oil is "one of the worst foods you can eat," said Harvard professor Karin Michels.

By Julie Al-Zoubi
Aug. 27, 2018 11:23 UTC

Coconut oil is as bad for you as pure poi­son,” declared Karin Michels in a lec­ture deliv­ered at the University of Freiburg. Michel’s speech enti­tled Coconut oil and Other Nutritional Errors” caused quite a stir on YouTube where it amassed over one mil­lion views.

It is one of the worst foods. Why has it spread so much? The mis­con­cep­tion is the adver­tis­ing.- Karin Michels, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

In the 50-minute address Michels, a pro­fes­sor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health dis­pelled coconut oil’s super­food” sta­tus and described it as One of the worst foods you can eat.”

In the inter­view which was trans­lated from German to English by Business Insider, Michels declared that con­sum­ing coconut oil is far worse than eat­ing lard due to its high lev­els of sat­u­rated fatty acids.

Cracks in the coconut oil myth first began to appear in 2017, when a study by the American Heart Association (AHA) revealed that coconut oil was more detri­men­tal to heart health than but­ter, as it con­tained 82 per­cent sat­u­rated fat com­pared to butter’s 63 per­cent.

The AHA went on to say it advised against the use of coconut oil and were fol­lowed by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) who rec­om­mended low­er­ing intake of foods con­tain­ing sat­u­rated fats, includ­ing coconut oil.

As coconut oil gained a rep­u­ta­tion for being healthy, sales soared and it was hailed as a mir­a­cle food” with advo­cates claim­ing it could boost the brain, assist in weight loss and was effec­tive for treat­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

The Alzheimer’s Association refuted such claims and issued a state­ment on their web­site say­ing, There have been some claims that coconut oil could be used as a treat­ment, or even a cure, for Alzheimer’s dis­ease. However, there is cur­rently not enough exper­i­men­tal evi­dence to back up these claims.”

As the debate con­tin­ued, Annessa Chumbley, a reg­is­tered dieti­cian and spokes­woman for the A.H.A. told the New York Times, Between the two, olive oil is a bet­ter choice, since monoun­sat­u­rated fats can have a ben­e­fi­cial effect on your heart when eaten in mod­er­a­tion and when used to replace sat­u­rated and trans fats in your diet,”

Earlier this week Qi Sun, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School told the New York Times that while extra-vir­gin coconut oil is rich in phy­to­chem­i­cals, known for their antiox­i­dant prop­er­ties, much of the coconut oil on the mar­ket has been refined and con­tains very few of these antiox­i­dants. He added that even when using extra-vir­gin coconut oil, The sat­u­rated fat effects out­weigh any ben­e­fi­cial effects of the antiox­i­dants.”

While Michels was less scathing about other super­foods” includ­ing acai, chia seeds and matcha in her address, she did point out that the nutri­ents con­tained in them were read­ily avail­able in more com­mon fruits and veg­eta­bles say­ing, We are well and suf­fi­ciently sup­plied.”

Gwyneth Paltrow led the many celebri­ties who jumped on the coconut oil band­wagon. In addi­tion to cook­ing with it, Paltrow hailed the oil’s skin mois­tur­iz­ing ben­e­fits, rec­om­mended it for teeth whiten­ing and pro­posed it as a nat­ural lubri­cant to ease vagi­nal dry­ness.


Related Articles