London: A Harvard professor has caused a stir by terming coconut oil - widely used in cooking - "pure poison".
Karin Michels, an epidemiologist at the Harvard TH Chan school of public health, denounced the trend of promoting coconut oil during a lecture at University of Freiburg, where she holds a second academic position is the director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumour Epidemiology.
In the speech delivered in German and watched nearly a million times on YouTube so far, she allegedly said said coconut oil was "one of the worst things you can eat" that was as good for wellbeing as "pure poison", reported Guardian.
The problem with coconut oil, according to Michels, is with regard to the high content of saturated fat, which is known to raise levels of LDL cholesterol in the body, leading to cardiovascular disease.
Coconut oil contains more than 80pc saturated fat, more than twice the amount found in lard, and 60pc more than what is found in beef dripping.
The American Heart Association - after reviewing the evidence on coconut oil among other foodstuffs - advised against its use last year.
"Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD, and has no known offsetting favourable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil," the review concluded.
The British nutrition Foundation, too, cautioned people about using coconut oil. "Coconut oil can be included in the diet, but as it is high in saturated fats should only be included in small amounts and as part of a healthy balanced diet," the British Nutrition Foundation said. "There is to date no strong scientific evidence to support health benefits from eating coconut oil."