'Co­conut oil is poi­son': Har­vard med­i­cal pro­fes­sor says the health fad is 'one of the worst foods you can eat' - and says even LARD is bet­ter

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

Co­conut oil is 'pure poi­son' and 'one of the worst foods you can eat', ac­cord­ing to a lec­ture given by a pro­fes­sor at the Har­vard T.H. Chan School of Pub­lic Health. Dr Karin Michels, who also heads up the tu­mour re­search cen­tre at the Univer­sity of Freiburg, made the state­ment in a 50-minute talk in Ger­many last month.

Among other things, she told her au­di­ence that 'co­conut oil is pure poi­son,' and 'it is one of the worst foods you can eat,' ac­cord­ing to a trans­la­tion by Busi­ness In­sider Deutsch­land. The video, which has amassed more than 400,000 hits since it was pub­lished on July 10, will add fuel to the fiery de­bate over the oil's nu­tri­tional prop­er­ties; many have turned to co­conuts as a guilt-free fat, but even the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion has urged con­sumers to re­strict their use.

Co­conut oil had a pe­cu­liar rise to pop­u­lar­ity. Car­di­ol­o­gists know well that it may be tasty and sump­tu­ous, but those vel­vety qual­i­ties are no friend to your ar­ter­ies. Dr Michels says it is worse than lard (fat from the ab­domen of a pig which was a hit in the 50s and is now only seen in our grand­moth­ers' pantries). And yet, a na­tion­wide poll in 2016 found at least 70 per cent of Amer­i­cans believed co­conut oil to be healthy—with many see­ing it as one of the health­i­est oils out there.

The as­cent of co­conut oil sales be­gan in the early 2000s, on the heels of two stud­ies by Columbia Univer­sity which looked at medium- chain fatty acids, a type of fat present in co­conuts. The study par­tic­i­pants who ate the medium-chain fatty acid diet burned fat quicker than the con­trols. Once the find­ings emerged, it was gob­bled up: could this prod­uct, that is so easy to incorporate into daily life, be the Holy Grail of fat burn­ing?

Con­sumers de­cided it could. Sales of co­conut oil rock­eted.

The med­i­cal in­dus­try, how­ever, was not con­verted— not even the au­thor of the study, nu­tri­tion pro­fes­sor Marie-Pierre St-Onge, who ex­plained in her study that, co­conuts are only 14 per cent medium-chain fatty acids. The study par­tic­i­pants were fed 100 per cent.

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