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The Continuing Controversy of Coconut Oil - Here Are The Two Sides

By HERWriter
 
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Is coconut oil good?

There are many things that divide people, particularly in this time. That sentence probably evoked images of politics or religion, but not necessarily food. Yet food is a polarizing subject. Vegetarians grapple with their family’s Thanksgivings, dairy free converts balk at lattes in coffee shops and people argue about the cholesterol in eggs.

Food. It’s kind of a big deal.

Coconut oil is certainly one of the ingredients that bring out opinions (and a lot of science). It was originally vilified when in 1994 the Center for Science in the Public Interest put out a study claiming that coconut oil popped popcorn was so highly saturated, that it delivered as much fat as six big Macs in one large bag. (1) Movie theatre goers that also cared deeply for their health bemoaned the loss of the classic combination of popcorn and a film.

Twenty years later, you would think that coconut oil was the surefire ticket to lifelong health and wellness. From using it to oil pull bacteria from your gum line to adding it to smoothies, it is hard to meet a yoga tote carrying hippie without being told that it is the cure all for everything from dandruff to seizures. (2)

Of course, what goes around comes around. The scrunchie has unironically returned and when that happens, we have to assume that our newfound health habits might also be called into question.

A scientist from Harvard recently called coconut oil “pure poison” and the news made international headlines. It likely exploded because, fair or not, Harvard is synonymous with credibility. Also, wasn’t coconut oil supposed to boost brain function, help you lose abdominal fat and prevent Alzheimers? (2)

Coconut oil is on the American Health Association’s (AHA) list of foods that are best avoided, as it contains 82% saturated fat, which for the record, is much higher than the saturated fat in butter or even lard. (3) The Harvard Scientist is Karin Michaels and he agrees with the AHA, although Live Science maintains that the terms “pure poison” may be a little bit of a stretch. (4) However, Dr. Michaels did raise a red flag to the influencers who were eating it by the spoonful with every meal.

1.     Clark, Melissa. Once A Villain, Coconut Oil Charms The Health Food World. New York Times. Retrieved 28 August 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/dining/02Appe.html

2.     Top Ten Evidence Based Health Benefits of Coconut Oil. HealthLine. Retrieved 28 August 2018. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil

3.     Ask The Doctor: Coconut Oil And Health. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved 28 August 2018. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/coconut-oil

 

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4.     Cahn, Lauren. Why A Harvard Professor Is Calling This Everyday Food “Pure Poison.” Reader’s Digest. Retrieved 28 August 2018. https://www.rd.com/health/healthy-eating/why-harvard-professor-calls-coconut-oil-poison/

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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