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Coconut Oil Is 'Pure Poison,' Harvard Professor Claims

GERMANY (CBS Local) - Months after a report from the American Heart Association (AHA) warned against consuming coconut oil, a Harvard professor is blasting the popular product as "pure poison."

Karin Michels, a professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, made the controversial remarks during a lecture that was posted on YouTube and has been viewed nearly one million times. Michels, who is also a director at the University of Freiburg, was giving a presentation entitled "Coconut Oil and Other Nutritional Errors" in German when she made the case that the dietary and cosmetic ingredient is completely unhealthy for humans.

"Coconut oil is pure poison," the professor claims, via Business Insider. It's "one of the worst foods you can eat." Although it is widely believed to have health benefits, Michels and other health professionals call the claims nothing but erroneous myths.

"One of the real problems in transmitting health information is that generally people who are writing about it don't look into what's come before," Dr. Frank Sacks said in a 2017 AHA article. "The overall effect has misled the public on the science of dietary fats."

Michels and the AHA cite the tremendous amount of saturated contained in coconut oil, nearly 82 percent. Butter, in comparison, is only made up of 60 percent saturated fat while beef fat contains around 40 percent.

Michels also used her lecture to take down other misconceptions regarding "super foods" like acai and chia seeds, calling them ineffective sources of nutrients. She says most of the beneficial nutrients in them can be easily found in more common foods like carrots, cherries, and apricots.

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