Chances are you’ve seen the recent headlines claiming coconut oil is “pure poison.”1,2,3 That declaration was made in a lecture posted on YouTube by Karin Michels, Ph.D., professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumor Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg in Germany.
In the lecture,4 which is given all in German and was posted on YouTube July 10, 2018, Michels proclaims that coconut oil is “one of the worst foods you can eat.”
Such statements fall right in line with advice from the American Heart Association (AHA), which last year sent out a Presidential Advisory5 to cardiologists around the world, telling them to warn their patients about the dangers of saturated fats such as butter and coconut oil.
According to the AHA, replacing these fats with polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) such as margarine and vegetable oil might cut heart disease risk by as much as 30 percent, which is about the same as statins. Overall for those who need to lower their cholesterol, the AHA recommends limiting daily saturated fat intake to 6 percent of daily calories or less.6
HPV Vaccine Advocate Calls Out Coconut Oil as ‘Pure Poison’
Michels’ statements are near-identical to those of the AHA. While it may be tempting to assume she’s a sock puppet for the processed vegetable oil industry, she does not appear to have any direct industry ties to them. Her work has been almost exclusively funded by the National Institutes of Health,7 an agency of the U.S. Department of Health, and has no readily apparent conflicts of interest.
That said, while Michels supports breastfeeding and has done a number of positive studies on vitamins and general nutrition, she veers sharply out of rational thought with her views on the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, detailed in a 2009 paper8 titled “HPV Vaccine for All,” in which she advocates the use of HPV vaccine not only in young girls and boys,