Much like kale, the often praised superfood of the veggie world, coconut oil has been appreciated for its health benefits and nutritional value. Used in everything from salad dressing to toothpaste, it’s hard to find anyone who would argue the value of pure, natural oil. Recently, however, Karin Michels, the director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumor Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg and a professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, done just that. In a talk in Germany, Professor Michels called coconut oil “Pure poison” and said that its reputation as a magic potion that can cure all ills is undeserved. The talk, entitled, “Coconut Oil and Other Nutritional Errors,” has caused a ripple in the health food field. Michels isn’t alone in her feelings though. Recently the American Heart Association suggested that patients with cardiac issues avoid coconut oil because of saturated fatty acids.
Because coconut oil remains solid at room temperature, much like butter and lard, the fats it contains can clog arteries and lead to hypertension, stroke and heart disease. The concept of “superfoods” has been come to a rallying cry in the nutrition field, but what many don’t realize is that other foods contain just as many benefits, but do not have the drawbacks of coconut oil. Experts suggest olive oil or rapeseed oil for cooking. Flaxseed oil cannot be used for cooking but is useful in salad dressings and other recipes. Many other trendy foods like acai, chia seeds, or matcha have benefits that can found in many other foods.