Coconut oil is pure poison, says Harvard professor

The scientist argued that coconut oil, which is chock-full of saturated fats, is "one of the worst foods you can eat" and even went as far as calling it "pure poison". "What makes it of interest is the nature of fatty acids in coconut oil".

The lecture in German was given at the University of Freiburg and is now making rounds on YouTube.

The title of the video, which has over 400,000 views, is "Coconut Oil and other Nutritional Errors". Not unlike lard, at room temperature Coconut oil is solid and that's due to its high sat-fat content.

Coconut oil is a healthier option than choosing butter or margarine, but to improve your health, you're better off trying heart-healthy oils like olive oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil.

The proponents of coconut oil often point to the healthy lifestyles of indigenous populations in India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Polynesia, whose diets include large amounts of coconut. "This disconnect between lay and expert opinion can be attributed to the marketing of coconut oil in the popular press", the report stated. The video on YouTube has garnered nearly 800,000 eyeballs.

Another study using data from 135,000 people in 18 countries and published in The Lancet, found that high fat and low carbohydrate consumption were associated with a 23% lower risk of death. In a 2,000-calorie diet, that's about 13 grams (0.5 ounces) of saturated fat per day.

"But the reality is when you look at what coconut oil is made of, 80 percent of it is saturated fat and that's similar to butter which is about 60 percent saturated fat or beef fat which is about 40 percent", CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula told "CBS This Morning" a year ago.

Last year, the American Heart Association reviewed the evidence on coconut oil among other foodstuffs.

"For most people, that's not going to be where they want to choose their saturated fats from", said 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. Another study found that coconut oil raises the body's levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol, or "good" cholesterol. The oil has "no known offsetting favorable effects", the AHA said in an advisory a year ago, and it could actually increase LDL ("bad") cholesterol, a cause of cardiovascular disease.

"For the time being, if you like the taste of coconut oil, then, as with butter, it's fine to use it every now and then". Their diet, however, also contains more fish, fruits, and vegetables than the typical American diet, which would make any direct comparison unfair.

  • Santos West