So is coconut oil poisonous?

‘Coconut Oil is poison!’ That was the tag line of the email I received which is a hell of a thing for a Tuesday morning. When it’s followed by Harvard Professor my immediate thought was like most in our industry of total surprise. At first I thought there had been some new research paper published that I neither knew about the research nor about the paper itself. So I watched the speech and further have read the transcript. Like others having absorbed the information I now find myself once more frustrated by those willing to throw around words for headlines without the ability to back them up. I am not saying that I am as wise as the good professor in fact her knowledge far exceeds my own and most people’s yet her speech is one I expect from a first year student or reality TV star.

Ironically the email I received had come from a UK based professor of nutrition who was very critical of the contents. So much then for not finding any doctors that would recommend coconut oil in your diet.  So instead of making grand statements let’s maybe look at some of the facts in this case. It’s stated that there is no research showing health benefits of coconut oil which is interesting as there have been a number of recent articles which continue to show the health’s links with diets containing coconut oil. I am unaware of any research done by anyone including the professor showing the poisonous nature of coconut oil. In fact I can find no research done by the professor into coconut oil at all. I can only assume her comments are based on research into diets high in saturated fats. It’s the same argument used last year by the AHA about coconut oil that’s been debunked a number of times over already. As yet nobody has really studied the difference between animal saturated fats and plant based in diets. But recent research evens casts into doubt those clear links between saturated fats and cardiovascular disease showing that its more complex then that. Also research would also seem to show that there are some benefits from replacing some of the fat in diet with coconut oil. These are not diets with high amount of coconut oil but that simple idea of replacing some of the fat in diet with coconut oil. Its part of the idea ‘eat a wide based diet in moderation’ which has been good practise for some time.

So where do we go from here? The good professor must know that her claims cannot be proved at all so why say them? She may believe this idea which is interesting to the residents in places like Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam to name but a few who’s diet is high in coconut oil. Like most not seen any figures that show mortality rates running higher in these countries if you take into account poor health systems and poor populous. Hopefully most will see this for what it is a rather dubious attempt to grab some attention without thinking through either what they are truly saying or the consequences. Just a shame is come from someone who once more has made people question health professionals!


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