Dr Karin Michels, who also heads up the tumor research center at the University of Freiburg, made the statement in a 50-minute talk in Germany.
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 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 percent 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 percent medium-chain fatty acids. The study participants were fed 100 percent.
There’s no study showing significant health benefits to coconut-oil consumption. And, according to Michels, coconut oil is more dangerous than lard because it almost exclusively contains saturated fatty acids, ones that can clog the coronary arteries. You can identify fats that contain large quantities of saturated fatty acids by checking to see whether they remain solid at room temperature, as is the case with butter or lard.
Based on the fact that they contain a lot of unsaturated fatty acids, experts recommend olive or rapeseed oil as an alternative, and while it can’t be used for cooking, flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is just as good for the body.
While Michels doesn’t describe other “superfoods” like acai, chia seeds, or matcha as harmful, at most she considers them ineffective because, in most cases, the nutrients they’re touted for are available just as readily in other foods that are more easily accessible such as carrots, cherries, and apricots.