A Harvard professor called coconut oil as "pure poison" and the video talk she made this claim in has gone viral on YouTube hitting a million views as of Thursday.
The coconut oil gained superfood status in 2011 among much of the healthy set in the West. It became a craze in the US as it was seen as boosting immunity and helping with weight loss. In the video titled "Coconut Oil and other nutritional errors", a Harvard faculty member Karin Michels said, "I can only warn you urgently about coconut oil. This is one of the worst foods you can eat." She repeated the term "pure poison" as many as three times in the video.
Her reasoning is that the coconut oil is extremely high in saturated fat, consumption of which leads to high cholesterol and heart diseases. More than 80 percent of the fat in the coconut oil is saturated, which is way more than in butter(63 percent), beef fat(50 percent) and pork lard(39 percent). Another professor from Harvard University's School of Public Health said oils high in saturated fat raise an individual's bad cholesterol.
Harvard Health Letter said, "Too much saturated fat in the diet is unhealthy because it raises bad LDL cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease. So it would seem that coconut oil would be bad news for our hearts."
"What's interesting about coconut oil is that it also gives good HDL cholesterol a boost. Fat in the diet, whether it's saturated or unsaturated, tends to nudge HDL levels up but coconut oil seems to be especially potent at doing so," said Walter C. Willett, a doctor at Harvard School of Public Health. He added saying, "Coconut oil's special HDL boosting effect may take it less bad than the high saturated fat content would indicate, but it's still probably not the best choice among the many available oils to reduce the risk of heart disease."
But ghee is different from the coconut oil. It has many benefits to our body. In January, the Los Angeles Times, in a piece, said, "Ghee is lactose free and compared to butter, much lower in cholesterol. It is also jam packed with fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. These have wonderful antioxidant properties and play a critical role in strengthening our immune systems."
Michels is the director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumor Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg and a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Though often touted as a health food, there is no scientific evidence showing significant health benefits of coconut oil consumption.
This isn't the first time in recent years that experts have attempted to set the record straight.
In 2017, the American Heart Association (AHA) released a report aiming to shed light on the long-running debate over the healthiest fats. The advisory paper recommended against ingesting coconut oil because of its high saturated fat content.
Experts note that many people believe cooking with or consuming coconut oil to be healthy because it has been marketed that way, with companies touting supposed benefits such as anti-aging, prevention of dementia, and cardiovascular health.