Harvard professor: Coconut oil is pure poison

Coconut oil is being lauded as the miracle ingredient

Coconut oil is being lauded as the miracle ingredient

A Harvard professor made waves with a claim that coconut oil is "pure poison" last month, and experts are taking a closer look at the facts behind the food's apparent fall from grace.

Dr Karin Michels, a medical professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, claims that it's more risky to consume than lard due to the amount of fatty acids in the product.

"Coconut oil is pure poison", she said, adding that it is "one of the worst foods you can eat". Saturated fat is known to raise levels of so-called LDL cholesterol, ...

Other experts back these claims up. He recommends instead using oils high in monounsaturated fats (including olive oil and avocado oil) and those high in polyunsaturated fats (such as canola oil).

"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", said Victoria Taylor, a senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation.

Despite the huge popularity of coconut oil and many praises it's received from healthy-eating advocates, a Harvard professor's scathing criticism of the trend has stirred up a flurry of debate and conversation.

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This was because of its saturated fat content, which at about 86 per cent is more than double that found in lard or beef dripping, and a third more than in butter.

For those who are concerned about lowering their cholesterol, the American Heart Association recommends "reducing saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 percent of total daily calories".

So is it good or bad?

Like other oils, coconut oil is calorie-dense, which means consuming large amounts without reducing other calorie sources can lead to weight gain. This may be due to its high content of a fatty acid known as lauric acid. "Saturated fats are just one piece of the puzzle".

What to look for when purchasing coconut oil and how much to consume?

Coconut oil is a commonly used component in the kitchen for preparing a meal, especially in Kerala.

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