In certain health food stores and natural production locations, coconut oil is the panacea for everything from hair and drowsiness to obesity and hemorrhoids. But the carefully crafted image of coconut oil as a remedy for many ailments is outright rejected by Karin Michels, an expert in epidemiology at the School of Public Health T.H. Chan from the University of Harvard.
Michels made his remarks at a recent conference entitled "Coconut oil and other nutritional errors" at the University of Freiburg, an educational center where he holds a second academic position as director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumor Epidemiology. The speech, in German, has been seen almost a million times on YouTube.
Michels based this serious claim on the high content of saturated fats in coconut oil, which is known to increase the levels of bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol and thus the risk of cardiovascular disease. Coconut oil contains more than 80% saturated fat, more than twice the amount found in pork fat, and 60% more than that in traces of beef fat.
More and more evidence
Last year the American Heart Association reviewed the existing scientific evidence about coconut oil and other household fats. While three-quarters of the American public considered coconut oil healthy, the review noted that only 37% of nutritionists agreed.
The authors attribute the abyss to the commercialization of coconut oil to advertising and popular knowledge without scientific hacidero. "Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD and has no compensating effects, we discourage the use of coconut oil," concluded the review.
Other organizations have issued similar warnings. "Coconut oil can be included in the diet, but because it is rich in saturated fats, it should only be included in small quantities, so that a healthy and balanced diet is no longer necessary," according to the British Nutrition Foundation. "To date, there is no solid scientific evidence to support the health benefits caused by the intake of coconut oil," he added.