Coconut oil has seemingly become the next superfood alongside avocados, blueberries, and kale. Touted as being a cure-all for skin issues to being one of the healthiest saturated fats for you, coconut oil has risen to be a common household item in recent years. Despite these claims, there is some debate regarding the validity of whether coconut oil is actually beneficial for your health.
Thanks to a video from Harvard professor and epidemiologist Dr. Karin Michels, the overall health benefits of coconut oil may not be as good as we thought. Dr. Michels warns that due to the saturated fat content of coconut oil, it amounts to little better than “pure poison” and should be removed from its status as a healthy food. There are currently no concrete studies available that signify any benefits of coconut-oil consumption, and according to Michels, the high amount of saturated fatty acids can clog coronary arteries. This is identified by the fact that coconut oil can remain solid at room temperature, as is the case with butter or lard.
In a 2017 report by the American Heart Association, researchers agree with these claims, stating that by replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats found in olive or other vegetable oils, the risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced by nearly 30 percent. Thanks to these claims, the AHA recommends that a healthy diet should contain no more than five to six percent of your daily calories. When compared to coconut oil, this would amount to no more than a tablespoon of it.
Many of the health claims surrounding coconut oil rely on animal studies for research that were not centered around it being used for a human diet. A 1985 study is cited as being evidence that coconut oil can boost weight loss, but all of the facts aren’t properly presented. The rats used in this study did indeed lose weight, but it also resulted in slowing their heart rates and even reducing their overall base temperature, a clear indicator that it produced a toxic result.
Another study published in the journal Insights in Nutrition and Metabolism in July 2017 found no evidence supporting the fact that coconut oil is better for weight and lower glucose levels when compared to other oils including corn and olive oil.
Despite these findings, the claim that coconut oil is no better than poison may be slightly blown out of proportion. Melissa Majumdar, a dietitian at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and a spokesperson for the U.S. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, assures that coconut oil can be perfectly fine in moderation. Is it a miracle food? Probably not, but being mindful of how it fits into our daily life minimizes any negative effects of consuming it.