Coconut oil is attacked. Once celebrated as a wonderful superfood, his reputation was hurt more than a little after a Harvard professor described the substance as "pure poison." To dispel any doubts about her feelings, Karin Michels, an epidemiologist, added that coconut oil is "one of the worst things you can eat."
Pure poison? Well, it will not kill you right away, its eyes popping, foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath – nothing quite so dramatic. But it is true that coconut oil can make for potentially deadly heart disease for enthusiastic and dedicated fans.
So how can such a natural plant product be considered so dangerous? After all, it looks so innocent, with its white flesh and refreshing liquid center, which offers an exotic flavor of tropical beaches, as well as low levels of minerals (potassium and iron), some fiber and fat.
It was also a long and popular ingredient in sunscreen and shampoo and skin products. But it's edible coconut oil, which has recently come to the fore for its supposed health benefits. Products containing coconut oil and recipes that use it are becoming increasingly popular. A quick web search provides numerous suggestions for integrating more coconut oil into your diet by using it in cooking and baking and even mixing it into tea, coffee and smoothies.
With claims about health benefits such as weight loss, elevated "good" cholesterol, improved immune function and even prevention of Alzheimer's disease, it's easy to see why the public would be forced to exchange their usual household oils and fats for this incredible sounding product ,
Even the high price does not seem to hold buyers (a British supermarket is currently selling it for £ 1
The Fats of Matter
But if we take a closer look at these obvious health benefits, we can see that most of the claims come from studies that are still based on animal or in vitro (laboratory) studies.
By far the biggest negative for coconut oil is the fact that it is so high in saturated fat. As much as 86% of it consists of the type of fat that we have asked people to reduce in their diet because of its proven association with elevated "bad" cholesterol and heart disease.
Even Butter, this long-standing enemy of heart health fanatics, looks healthy compared to the fatty acid profile of coconut oil at 52% saturated fat. Olive oil comes to 14% and rapeseed to 7%.
So why, after decades of promoting the evidence-based health benefits of replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats, such as olive, canola and sunflower oil, has this product gained popularity? Maybe it's the taste people like (though I'm not convinced it's that good). Or the fact that it seems like an exotic and trendy ingredient, and people still are not convinced of the risks of saturated fat (despite professional advice that has not changed for years)
Whatever The reason being, timely draft is currently reporting The findings of the UK Nutrition and World Health Organization (WHO) Food Assistance Committee continue to confirm dietary guidelines restricting saturated fat intake to less than 10% of total energy intake (about 20 g for women and 30 g for males per day). 19659002] Using just two tablespoons of coconut oil in your daily diet will smash this target to pieces, delivering 26g of saturated fat and about 200 calories.
Do I need coconut oil in my kitchen? Definitely not. But one or two cans (low-fat) coconut milk for a Thai curry or a bag of coconut grind for home baking lurks in my pantry.
No single food is a "superfood". It is the overall balance of our intake that counts. As with any high-fat product, coconut oil should be used sparingly, occasionally and as a minor ingredient, and not as a substitute for base oils such as rapeseed oil, olive oil and sunflower oil. Coconut oil is not strictly a poison – but it's not something that should go unreservedly on our lips.