A recent YouTube video of Dr. Karin Michels, the director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumor Epidemiology at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health went viral. In the video, Dr. Michels talks about something rather controversial yet can prove to be groundbreaking in the field of medical science. In her lecture, titled Coconut Oil and other Nutritional Errors, she concluded by saying that coconut oil is “pure poison.”
The speech, for rightly so the reason, caused a stir among the listeners and the population at large. Particularly, because most people tend to make use of the oil for its plethora of benefits.
However, what Dr. Michels said is not something utterly new. Just about last year, the American Heart Association issued guidelines against the use of saturated fatty acids found in great amounts in coconut oil.
Coconut Oil or Pure Poison?
For Dr. Karin Michels consuming coconut oil is pretty much equivalent to consuming poison. She has strictly recommended people to avoid usage as much as possible. No health benefits have so far been supported by empirical evidence, says Dr. Michels. The advantages have found no place in the field of medical research.
The reason simply stems from the fact that the item is loaded with saturated fatty acids. It should be of common knowledge that a great quantity of these fatty acids is dangerous for our health. They can lead to excessive clogging of the coronary arteries which can prove to be fatal at times.
That being said, Dr. Michels recommended a list of alternatives to coconut oil. Anything that does not contain high amount of saturated fatty acids is fine, she says. As viable substitutes, rapeseed oil or olive oil can be used Similarly, Flaxseed oil is also a good option to make use of particularly for its rich Omega-3 fatty acids content.
How unhealthy is saturated fatty acids?
If you were a follower of Karin Michels, you would consider saturated fatty acids as the most harmful thing in the world. But the question that really arises: are they really that unhealthy?
A number of scientific studies have documented their findings in that regard. Some have agreed with Dr. Michels proposition. While others argue that the harmful effects are overly exaggerated. Let us look at the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition for example. The findings showed that people consuming food items high in saturated amounts in moderation did not increase their chances of cardiovascular illness. In fact, their risk was equivalent to people who avoided these food items.
Interestingly enough a study from The Lancet argued a similar point but the conclusion was a bit different. The results showed that people on high fat and low carbohydrate diet exhibited a 20% lower risk of death. Important to note that included in the high-fat content was a moderate amount of saturated fat.
So, what does this tell us about coconut oil? While, arguably, Dr. Michles is right in pointing out the harmful effects of saturated fatty acids. However, a balanced proportion and eating routinely are unlikely to cause any substantial damage to our health.