Coconut oil is 'pure poison,' says Harvard professor

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According to Michels, it is worse than lard and yet a lot of people believe coconut oil to be healthy - with many seeing it as one of the healthiest oils out there.

Dr Karin Michels, director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumour Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg, was giving a talk all about coconut oil the other day.

There's not a single study showing any significant health benefits to coconut oil consumption; in fact, coconut oil is more risky than lard according to Michels, as it nearly exclusively contains saturated fatty acids - acids that can clog the coronary arteries.

Coconut oil has had its profile boosted in recent years by health food advocates who claim it is healthier than other forms of fat.

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Michels went on to add that coconut oil was one of the worst foods you could eat.

A Harvard professor is throwing cold water over coconut oil. The authors attributed the gulf in perception to the marketing of coconut oil in the popular press.

Dr Michels just simply doesn't agree - she says it's even worse than lard (that thing you might remember from your granny's pantry, made from fat from the abdomen of a pig - gross we know). Butter, in comparison, is only made up of 60 percent saturated fat while beef fat contains around 40 percent. "People think of the benefits of coconut oil, thinking it has fewer calories, helps you lose weight, some people like the flavor of it, but we still have to consider it as a saturated fat", she said.

Its superfood status had already come under scrutiny past year when the American Heart Association (AHA) updated its guidelines, recommending people avoid the saturated fatty acids found in coconut oil.

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Excessive amounts of saturated fats in a diet increases cholesterol, which can lead to blocked arteries and heart disease.

The AHA found that replacing saturated fat intake with polyunsaturated vegetable oil greatly reduced the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, similar to the numbers achieved by prescribed drug treatment.

According to the AHA report "The Skinny on Fats", the new guidelines urge consumers to limit both saturated and trans fats. Because of its anti-inflammatory effects and absorbent nature, coconut oil is a great topical remedy or those who suffer from dry skin. "Coconut oil is rich in saturated fat, which for years has been demonized in the nutrition media". The oil is rich in lauric acid, a fatty acid that the body processes slightly differently than it does other saturated fats.

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