Harvard professor: Coconut oil is “pure poison”


Is coconut oil one of the worst foods you can eat? Is it even a “pure poison”?

That’s what Harvard professor Karin Michels claims in her July talk “Coconut oil and other nutritional errors”. It’s available in German on YouTube, and it has now passed 1 million views. It even ended up in the media this week:

Sky News: Coconut oil ‘pure poison’, says Harvard professor

USA Today: Coconut oil is ‘pure poison,’ Harvard professor says in talk on nutrition

The Guardian: Coconut oil is ‘pure poison’, says Harvard professor

So, what is so bad about coconut oil according to Dr. Michels? The answer: It contains about 86% saturated fat – about a third more than butter! 86% saturated fat? Catastrophic! If only saturated fat wasn’t bad for you… Oh, wait. Actually, modern science shows that it is not. And thus, since natural saturated fat is fine for your health, so is coconut oil!

Study after study has shown that saturated fat isn’t bad for you. Unfortunately, outdated advice based on old and disproven theories is still being believed, even by some professors at Harvard.

I recommend checking out the updated science on the topic… or just watch this short video, where some very clever medical doctors answer the question, is saturated fat bad?


Could full-fat dairy products help you live longer?

Is saturated fat causing PTSD?



Top comments

  1. Joh
    If it were bad.....all of the population of Indonesia would have died of heart disease in the pre western lifestyle, because it was THE -only?- fat to cook with.
    Rediculous! Now they die of heart disease because of other reasons.....
    Reply: #49
    Read more →
  2. Vickey
    I agree with you. I love coconut oil and I drink it in my coffee every day. At 57 I have no arterial blockage at all. Nature knows best, who are we to 'make up' food... lol
    Read more →

All comments

  1. Joh
    If it were bad.....all of the population of Indonesia would have died of heart disease in the pre western lifestyle, because it was THE -only?- fat to cook with.
    Rediculous! Now they die of heart disease because of other reasons.....
    Reply: #49
  2. Vickey
    I agree with you. I love coconut oil and I drink it in my coffee every day. At 57 I have no arterial blockage at all. Nature knows best, who are we to 'make up' food... lol
  3. Mauricio
    Excelente respuesta DD Team...!!!

    Adoro cuando los contenidos están en el contexto científico contemporáneo y me alegra mantener mi suscripción en este sitio ;)


  4. Shea
    I got so frustrated by this Harvard "expert." Health issues in 1st world countries are atrocious. But what are they eating more of? Coconut oil or sugar and processed carbs? Hmmm. Logic (and better science) suggests that sugar and high carbs is the likely culprit. Hey Harvard, stop lowering your standards.

    I couldn't believe how much better I've felt in just a few weeks of cutting high carb and switching to healthy saturated fats. I've lost 25 pounds, I'm off all my meds and it's only been 3 1/2 months! I wonder how much the food industry paid this woman for her message?

  5. RT
    This, I am afraid, is the problem with “brand-driven” education and research. There will sadly be many among those million-plus You Tube viewers of Professor Michel’s video who won’t look beyond the fact that she has “Harvard” associated with her name, though I hope I’m wrong about that.

    I would say there is always a real danger that Ivy League / Oxbridge credentials become the Argument from Authority by default, and critical thinking - i.e. the actual substance and evidence of the argument - is shunted aside with the implicit assumption that the prestige of the researcher and / or institution is what counts. Rather than evidence-based research, this is what Dr. Malcolm Kendrick has referred to as “eminence-based.”

  6. RT
    I have gone to the video on You Tube, and it seems that comments for it are disabled.
    Reply: #50
  7. RT
    Edit on Comment #5: Lines 2 and 3 of paragraph 2 should read “i.e. consideration of the actual substance and evidence of the argument.”
  8. Bob
    First of all, he's not even a Harvard professor. It's a he and not a she. The name is dr. Michael Karin. He's a professor at UC San Diego... He's a shill for the carbohydrate industry. See Carbohydrates are Killing Us in the Washington Post
    Replies: #10, #33
  9. iel
    What's with the sarcasm, both in text and video? Please use reason instead of a mocking tone! Loudness, mockery and attitude are common but poor substitutes for reason and analysis.
    Reply: #14
  10. Leah
    Hi Bob, different person. Michael Karin is in San Diego, Karin Michel is from Harvard.
  11. Andrew
    Probably Big Pharma doesn't like people to take care of their health simply through clean eating and natural support. Probably this way there'll be less Heart attacks and cancer to fuel with chemicals...
    People disease are like inanimate for chemicals manufacturers...don't forget..healthy people is not their goal.
    Their goal is make us last a long time in illness.

    Open your eyes, Humanity.

    Reply: #52
  12. Portland girl
    My grandparents in the Caribbean lived to one hundred and four and five using ONLY coconut oil that they made up until a few months before death they could walk with a cane and made sense grandma NEVER wear glasses and red Bible every day may I also add they we're two of many
    Reply: #44
  13. Cassieoz
    Harvard 'experts' don't have a good track record with dietcrelated pronouncements 😡
  14. Cassieoz
    Iel this site is ful of reasoned argument, logic and good science but somehow, some sectors refuse to re-examine their fixed beliefs. Logic, reason and science havent worked so, in this case, perhaps mockery will
  15. 1 comment removed
  16. Marijke
    On nutritional information, Harvard is the place to be these days.... 😉
  17. Worldpeace
    Reply: #51
  18. Ravi Ojha
    most stupid research, i want to meet with that researchers and slap on their both cheeks, actually those bastard researchers are the marketing devision of american oil companies, they are spreading rumours about coconut oil just because selling own oil...
  19. 1 comment removed
  20. Avishek Saha
    Glad this is ranking on the first page of google for the search term "harvard professor coconut oil." I wrote an article myself looking at the claim of coconut oil and increased LDL cholesterol. In either case, eating whole foods, such as coconut meat, cannot cause heart disease. But as the studies show, eating 3 tablespoons of coconut oil a day does seem to raise LDL. So don't eat 3 tablespoons of coconut oil a day. It's not food. It's oil. Eat coconut meat. Don't eat vegetable oil either, that's not food and just because it lowers LDL cholesterol doesn't mean it prevents heart attacks: https://www.stopbeingconfusedabouthealth.com/harvard-professor-boldly...
  21. erika
    I figure that as long as articles like this keep getting posted, the general public who believe it, will stop buying it, making the price come down for the rest of us, who know better. :)
  22. brant
    You got to remember this is the same institution that brought us Obama
    Replies: #36, #38
  23. Nigel Heaton
    Big food
    Big Pharma
    White coat (Little nutrition training)
    Equals big problem.

    It's like vitamin B1 for diabetics is a potential life saver but no one knows about the research carried out at the university of Warwick, because there's no money in a vitamin that's almost free.
    Much better to keep people in the dark and prescribe un-needed medicines.

  24. Mark
    Inuits people used to eat mostly saturated fats from animals, very little vegetables and no fruits and.... died at around 30
  25. Steven Kellett
    I disagree. I was having a tablespoon of coconut oil in my smoothies every day. My tryglicerides skyrocketed through the roof. They soon come down after stopping coconut oil.
  26. carol franks
    I think it all depends on the person. I have a friend who swears by it and she said I should try it. I muscle tested it and I keep muscle testing it, but the result is always negative, i.e. my muscles go weak. I trust my body, but that is not to say others shouldn't do well on it.
    Reply: #56
  27. Griselda
    I don't understand how people think eating healthy foods is dangerous. Everything we eat, prepare our food with is healthly.
  28. Chuck
    Another so called expert knocking the truth. She is part of the same crowd that told us in the 70s to eat a shit ton of carbs.
  29. Simon Thompson
    USA can't produce coconut oil- but makes canola and soy oils = Trash Talking saturates, where every smart person recognises unstable poly unsaturates beat up our metabolism...
  30. Joe Rubalcava
    I’ve used coconut oil for along time and my health has only gotten better and better. If coconut oil is poison,can that she give us proof of how many ppl. have died from taking coconut oil. I bet she can’t. I just did a treadmill stress test and passed it with flying colors and I’m 66 yrs old. They also did testing with a prob all around my heart and all the results were great. So coconut oil hasn’t harmed me at all.Same ppl are so educated that they have lost all their common sense. I wonder how many ppl she interviewed who use coconut oil
  31. Mary Catherine
    I can't believe this Harvard news. Just had to sit through the morning news about the low carb (no added sugar) and high fat diet. How very bad it is professed by a well known Global Vancouver, BC Canada News station doctor. He said people get diabetes because of inherited genes. Also it's a fad just to try to lose weight. Doesn't work he said. People just need to eat a balanced diet with carbs, sugar, fruits, vegetables and meat. Exercise more and watch your calorie intake. I just about barfed. I have been seriously on the diet off and on for 2 years and lost weight - 50 lbs. Today I had an argument at my doctor's office over my TSH tests being so low at the bottom of the range for 2 years. Since I went on the diet. Finally based on my symptoms he listened. I told him I had gone off my synthroid cause I couldn't take symptoms anymore. Pretty hard arguing with a male doctor. He doesn't read anything more than he already was taught. I'm 70 years old and getting healthier everyday as I stick to diet doctors information. Thank you to all the team would are saving my life.
  32. bernadette
    With all due respect, the world does not begin and end at Harvard ... these big shots from prestigious Harvard ...supposedly smart or ... detaining the truth ... are loosing the battle on saturated fats ... and they know it only too well ... they pretend to be right ... to hold the truth ... but they know very well ... and the whole world is finding it out right now ... that saturated fats are the most healthy fats for the human race ... they are grasping at straws ... they are realizing ... every minute of each day ... that this game is over ... and common sense and new scientific research & studies have won the race ... they are on the way out with these ancient, old theories that saturated fats is bad ... they would have us believe that science is to be static ... we would have to be pretty innocent to continue believing what has been dismissed as the scientific truth ... with thousands & thousands of studies proving in all kinds of ways that saturated fat is a necessity to a healthy body and brain ... maybe Dr Michels speech is just the beginning of the end ... not a minute too soon ...
  33. Gregg
    I think you have 2 people mixed up. She, Dr. Karin Michels, is definitely as stated in the literature. Dr. Michael Karin is someone else. That's a bad error. Nearly as bad a saying Coconut Oil is poison ;-)
  34. Dione
    I occasionally have coconut oil in my bulletproof coffee and love it. I find that when I cook with coconut oil it gives food a weird after taste. Has anyone else found this or am I using an inferior brand?
    Reply: #37
  35. Patty
    An ex is a has been and a spert is a drip under pressure. Expert.
  36. AJ
    Yeah, and it's also the place that gave us John Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, FDR, JFK, George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Al Gore, and, probably your favorite, Bill O'Reilly ... So, do your research ...
  37. Grimm
    Try a different brand.
  38. susan

    You got to remember this is the same institution that brought us Obama

    i'm sorry, but what does obama have to do with this?
    why are you trying to politicize a diet?
    no, i'm no fan of obama's and less a fan of donald trump...but really?

  39. eliya
    Follow the money and you might find she has ties to the BigPharma monsters.
  40. Sophie
    My ancestors are from Kerala. We live, breathe and eat coconut oil, tumeric and yoghurt amongst other things. Slow to age and very energetic people.

    Coconut oil works on our immune system. How it does I dont know (not an MD) - when your immune system is humming - the rest of the body humms along.

    That "Harvard Study" is the old guard pushing back against people taking their health back into their hands using nutritional medicine.

    Good book to read is Death by Prescription by Dr Ray Strand.

  41. Linda
    Harvard profesors examined, that people believe to each bullshit, that Harvard profesors say. ;-)
  42. carlito
    They are dying because of vegetable oil. I am now 67 years old, eating a lot of saturated fats. I am on LCHF diet and I feel great. I consume coconut oil, ghee, olive oil, palm oil (for frying), beef fat. I jog 14kms. twice a week & seldom use the lift in my place of work. My cholesterol is on the higher end for the past 20 years (above what is prescribed as safe level). My latest is at 295 and triglycerides at 64.
  43. Francesca
    How hard is for the keto community to live freely in a society that still condamns fat? How can we fight such ignorance and mis-beliefs? Harvard should be a place where knowledge is produced and where brill minds can flourish for the sake of the society, but here you are, crap from Harvard to protect WHO?
  44. Fiona
    Love that! What a testimony!!
  45. Cheng
    How about Palma oil? It’s 99% of saturated fat, but most them are long chain, personally I think it’s a little bit difficult to digest than coconut oil, but still good than vegetable oil when needed to heat or oven, it’s steady and not release as much free agent as unsaturated acid oil. But in Spain, people starts recognizing Palma oil is bad(because it’s high saturated fat), in school, they start to remove palma oil food, replace with other vegetable oils; and famous Spanish brand: chocolate jam, nocilla, follows this s trend too, come up one product -no sugar, no Palma oil, I read the ingredients, they replaced palma oil to sunflower oil, and I’m not sure it’s a good thing.
  46. Karen
    The Harvard Jackels have destroyed America. I eat Coconut Oil every day. My BP 80/60, cholesterol great, my hair shiny, my skin supple.
    Did I mention that in 240 something day I lost 15 inches off my waist three inches off my upper arms and close 50 pounds. My husband a heart patient has been taken off two heart medications since we began the Keto lifestyle.
  47. Rachel
    I have decided that anything coming out of Harvard is purely based on the low-fat mantra and actually is pushing an agenda. Anytime anyone suggests that low carb is good for you, suddenly, they pull out a report from this bunch of reprobates in Harvard. So I just have stopped listening to them.
  48. inge
    Professor Michels gave this speech to put coconut oil in a real bad light. She never attacked sugar or the industry that brings us this toxic food. Nor did she mention the vegetable/seed oils most are GMO and see the use of Hexane. She suggests we use plain, cheap olive oil without mentioning that even first-pressed virgin olive oil may come tainted but that plain olive oil is often cut with cheap oils that harm us.

    We must remember that it is the "good people" at Harvard who were financed by the sugar industry to ok studies that sugar is ok and that fat is not.

    Let's face it, these so-called experts are in the pockets of big business, just as our FDA is. It's up to us to flush out the truth and to refuse to eat the toxic garbage offered to us as "food".

    Btw, we have been using virgin cold-pressed coconut oil for several years. There are no ill effects.

    Scare mongering from a group of entitled professors who see their research money evaporate if they don't lambast products that cut into the profits of the industry who offers us nothing good!

  49. Linda McDonald
    Typically smoking and carbs/glucose!
  50. Linda McDonald
    Can't imagine why!~lol!
  51. Linda McDonald
    Bingo! All one need do is check out some of the videos on this site, it gives you the entire history of "fat shaming", beginning with the first doctor who started it all, Ancel Keys!
  52. Sols
    Well said, thumbs up!

    Probably Big Pharma doesn't like people to take care of their health simply through clean eating and natural support. Probably this way there'll be less Heart attacks and cancer to fuel with chemicals...
    People disease are like inanimate for chemicals manufacturers...don't forget..healthy people is not their goal.
    Their goal is make us last a long time in illness.
    Open your eyes, Humanity.

  53. Joh
    Inuits died at 30? No that was the average age. Many died at childbirth, babies included, and there were accidents , it was a dangerous environment....ice, cold water, polar bears, wallruss, extreme weather conditions, all that has nothing to do with saturated fats.
    They ate the whole animal, organ meat as well, liver being the favorite part.....and guess what? Liver is THE storage organ for many important nutrients, (Google it).
    They didnot have heart disease or diabetes2. Now they do, because they buy their junk in stores!
    Look at the peoples of the “paradise” islands in the Pacific Ocean. Since they have harbours and airfields where western food is brought in....they are obese, have heart and kidney disease and diabetes2 aswell!
    They did better on coconut oil, fish and some greens....
  54. 1 comment removed
  55. Gerald Landry
    People suffering CF, Chronic Fatigue should experiment with the Keto Diet. If thier mitochondria (cellular energy furnace) are damaged a high carbohydrate intake will convert to Lactic acid cellularly driving the pain issue's of FM, Fibromyalgia sufferers! If the KREB and Cori Energy Cycle are damaged, they operate in an Oxygen deficient environment, called anaerobic glycolosis which converts high carbohydrate intake to Lactic acid cellularly driving up pain issue's and brain fog!
    Dieticians are NoT educated about these issue's. I was suffering hypoxia from toxic fumes for 3 days. My body was like a piece of lead. There were 59 tradesmen on oxygen my last day of work. NoT one of us was sent to a Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber.
  56. Karen
    By muscle testing, are you talking about the scam where you touch something and have someone push down on your arm while doing it? What a joke.
  57. Mary-Lou
    I am so glad our GP was open minded and brought in another doctor who counselled us on a low carb, high fat diet. My husband was facing the possibility of taking a fourth prescription for his diabetes or taking insulin injections. In January, 2017 he contacted a local teaching hospital because they were looking for diabetic participants for a study. He didn't qualify because he had had the disease too long. However, he asked what were they doing to change their lifestyles. She said they were basically going on a Ketogenic diet. I have to admit, I did not want to do it without the supervision of a doctor. I also had misgivings because I was treated for breast cancer in 2012 and was told to stick to a low fat diet among other lifestyle guidelines. I am a firm believer in following only evidence based information. In November, 2017 we met with the Doctor our GP had brought into his office for an hour long appointment and we went on the keto diet at the beginning of December. My husband has lost almost forty pounds. I lost ten but I was not overweight. He just had his annual physical and all of his numbers have improved: blood pressure, kidney function, glucose. His bad cholesterol has gone up, but is still in the acceptable range, while the good cholesterol has gone up even higher. We were supposed to have a follow up appointment with the other Doctor, but for some reason it didn't happen. I was wondering if the government health plan had stopped coverage. We've recently been told that we will be able to meet with him again. Thank you diet Doctor.
  58. Lucy
    I started the Keto Diet Jan 2,2018. I have lost 55 lbs. And have been off my BP meds for 6 months. Every time I eat more Carbs then I should, it upsets my stomach. I don't do that very often. Coconut Oil in Fat Bombs, life savers.
  59. Sheila
    I believe that Palm Oil has been substituted for other oil due to the deforestation problem in Malaya and Indonesia where natural rainforest is being replaced by palm oil plantations. Someone has finally realised the devastating effect this has on the orangutan population, not to mention the climate. Sorry but messing with nature as mankind does, for the so called 'benefit' (greed) of mankind is totally selfish on a huge scale. I, for one and on principle avoid palm oil.

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