Coconut oil is heart healthy - why the Harvard professor is wrong

You may have read or watched the recent headlines. A U.S. Harvard professor, Karin Michels, called coconut oil "pure poison" and "one of the worst foods you can eat," in her lecture to students of the University of Frieberg, Germany. Her lecture was titled "Coconut Oil and Other Nutritional Errors," in which she blasted the health value of coconut oil. I’d like to show you why the Harvard professor…and the 2017 AHA statement…are wrong.

Why professor Michels reported in error

Michels is the director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumor Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg and a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She presented basically what the American Heart Association (AHA) stated in their (incorrect) 2017 recommendation to avoid coconut oil and instead to consume polyunsaturated vegetable oils like Canola oil. It was entitled “Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease—A Presidential Advisory from the American Heart Association.”

Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont, said in a statement supporting the AHA at the time: "This important paper reaffirms the scientific evidence that saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol, a leading cause of atherosclerosis…furthermore, replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat reduces the incidence of cardiovascular disease."

First, about coconut oil. Where exactly does coconut oil even enter the equation? They looked at 4 clinical trials (systematic reviews and meta-analyses) on the subject as their “core evidence” to support their conclusions.[1] [2] [3] [4] They point out that polyunsaturated vegetable oil reduces cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to saturated (animal) fat. Then they suddenly make this incorrect connection to coconut oil (just because it is high in saturated fat).