Coconut oil is something that we all have been using since ages, be it for keeping our hair, skin and gums healthy or for using it as a natural makeup remover. But what if I tell you that the coconut oil you have been using since your childhood is a ‘pure poison’? Yes, Professor Karin Michels, who is an epidemiologist at the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health and the University of Freiburg claimed coconut oil as a ‘pure poison’ at a conference. What do you have to say on this? Let’s discuss this all below:
Is Coconut Oil Poison or Super Food?
So, what is the controversy?
Professor Karin Michels called out ‘coconut oil’ as a ‘pure poison’ in her talk that was about ‘Coconut Oil and Other Nutritional Errors’ (in German) as the high amounts of saturated fats were responsible for the ill-effects of coconut oil. She made this statement during a lecture in German in July. Also, talking about coconut oil as widely used superfood worldwide, Dr Karin called it as ‘the worst things you can eat’ and a ‘pure poison’ to those who have been consuming it. However, this isn’t first time when health benefits of coconut oil have been questioned. So, what next? Should we stop consuming something that we have been trusting for the past hundreds or even more years?
What is the harm of coconut oil consisting of saturated fats?
Coconut oil consists of a lot of saturated fat, which has been linked with cardiovascular diseases even in the past. As per an advisory statement released by the American Heart Association (AHA) in June 2017, people should avoid consuming these fats because they can lead to heart disease. But, a number of experts disagreed with this statement. Some of them had also said that unsaturated fats are not as bad and can be consumed like ones found in fish and vegetable oils which are found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Is it the time to drop the usage of coconut oil?
The video in which coconut oil was claimed as a ‘pure poison’ has reached a million views and I know this has been extremely shocking to most of us. Although the video was posted in July, but it recently went viral and now is in the news everywhere.
Apart from what we have been told since our childhood and all the articles and videos about the health benefits of coconut oil on the internet, let’s consider some facts about the same before you decide to throw your jars of coconut oil in the trash.
In a survey by The New York Times in 2016, coconut oil was rated as a ‘’healthy food’’ by 72 percent of Americans, compared with 37 percent of nutritionists. But there arises no doubt as to why coconut oil became so popular overtime when you have some of the most popular celebrities endorsing coconut oil.
As pointed out by a number of marketers of coconut oil, it also consists of antioxidants that keep your body’s cells from breaking down too quickly. Well, this may be true because we know how beneficial it is for our skin and hair.
Also, a number of experts shared this opinion of consuming coconut oil in smaller amounts. Of course, if not plenty of it, you can include a little coconut oil in your diet as just like any other food, it is also the best if used in moderation.
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How did coconut oil become so popular overtime?
Coconut oil is not something that we have just started using in the past few years. In fact, in countries like India, we people have been using it for cooking and even skin, hair and health benefits. But this isn’t the first time that health benefits of coconut oil have been in the news. It’s easy for one to find those large articles about its health benefits but remember, people made those claims by referencing to small studies that have not even been validated. And no doubt, that overtime these small studies have got enough of attention. As per the British Nutrition Foundation “Coconut oil can be included in the diet, but as it is high in saturated fats should be only included in small amounts and as part of a healthy balanced diet”.
But on the other side, according to the consumer research group Kantar, we have also had promotions from health food shops like Holland and Barrett and other celebrities that have responsible for the increasing sales if coconut oil in the UK from about 1m to 16.4m in the past four years. Whereas, according to the market research firm Spins, sale of coconut oil in the US have been at peak in 2015 at $229m.
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What fat should be used in cooking?
We have seen both the sides. At one point we are being told about the bad effects of coconut oil and then on the other about its benefits. But whatever it is, if we are told not to consume coconut oil so what should we rely on? May be olive oil or rapeseed oil instead!
According to Chloe Hall who is a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association and registered dietitian;
“Olive oil or rapeseed oil contains monounsaturated fats which may be beneficial for heart health. They maintain our ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, whilst reducing our ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. It is still important to use them in small amounts, however, as they are still energy dense. However, they would be a good swap for coconut oil.
“Omega 3 fats, found in oily fish, are essential fatty acids, which may play a role in heart health, inflammation and mood. Monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, rapeseed oil, avocado and some nuts are thought to be particularly beneficial.”
In addition to this, it is important to know that coconut oil can still be consumed in moderation. Too much of everything is bad and so is coconut oil. But you can always make a small part of it in a healthy diet.
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Considering all the facts and information, because coconut oil consists of saturated fats, it can prove to be detrimental to your health. Therefore, it should not be consumed in large amounts and is only recommended if taken in moderation. However, the health benefits are still not backed up by scientific evidences. So, what do you have to say on this, “is coconut oil ‘pure poison’ or super food?”