• A Harvard professor is pushing back on the health claims made by those who promote the use of coconut oil, calling it “pure poison.”
  • The professor, Dr. Karin Michels, says the saturated fatty acids in coconut oil make it dangerous to consume, and that it could cause serious health problems.
  • Research regarding how fats are used by the body has gained a lot of attention in recent years, with many promoting certain types of fats as vital to a healthy human diet. 

Criticisms of the “Standard American Diet” (SAD, for short) have grown louder and louder in recent years. The old, long outdated food pyramid that many of us were taught in school turned out to be just plain wrong, and it turns out that no, humans aren’t supposed to gorge themselves on bread and pasta all day long.

With new research popping up all the time, it’s becoming increasingly clear that loading up on carbs is a bad thing, and a diet rich in whole foods, meats, and healthy fats may ultimately be not just healthy, but also beneficial in the treatment of various types of sickness. That being said, not everyone is on board with some of the new foods and ingredients being hailed for their potential to make us healthier, and coconut oil has been taken down a peg by a Harvard professor who says it’s “pure poison.”

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As Independent reports, Dr. Karin Michels of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health is not impressed by coconut oil. In fact, she’s so strongly against its rise in popularity that she took the stage in 2018 for a speech where she specifically called out coconut oil as being “pure poison” for the human body.

Now, it’s obviously not actually poison, but is it harmful? Dr. Michels says yes, and she hedges her claims on the fact that coconut oil is high in fat. Specifically, the saturated fatty acids in the oil are, she says, incredibly harmful. This obviously isn’t the first time that saturated fats have been put in the spotlight, as doctors have long claimed a link between saturated fats and heart disease, but it’s still interesting.

The science of how the body reacts to the consumption of fats is something that researchers are still learning. It’s become clear that unsaturated fats can be a huge boon for your diet, and individuals who practice certain ways of eating, like keto and carnivore, have plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests eating lots of fats can actually improve blood test results, aid in weight loss, and even help reverse type 2 diabetes.

Large-scale studies to help cement these findings are few and far between, meaning that we’re left to rely on potentially outdated information on what fats are good, what fats (if any) are bad, and which ones can do actual harm to our bodies.

So, for the time being, should you continue to use coconut oil? It depends on who you ask. Do your best to listen to your body and maybe you’ll be ahead of the game.

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech. Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today, Time.com, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.