The latest food to be subject to a trial by mass media is coconut oil following a public lecture by a Harvard epidemiologist. Karen Michels called it ” pure poison ” and ” one of the worst foods you can eat ” in a public lecture that went viral. Her main issue with coconut oil was it’s high saturated fat content of 82%. This is considerably higher than even butter at 51%. The historical view amongst the medical community is that high levels of saturated fat increase the risk of heart disease. However there was been a gradual but significant shift away from this consensus in recent years. A recent pooled analysis of 72 studies suggesting no link between saturated fat and heart disease.
In fact other studies have found quite the opposite, that coconut oil could raise your good HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides. I suspect this argument will continue to run and run. However most experts now agree that saturated fat is certainly not the nutritional bad guy we have long assumed it to be. The other big attraction for me of using coconut oil for cooking is it’s relative stability when heated to a high temperature. If you are using it for stir frying it’s much less likely to oxidise and break down into potentially toxic compounds than vegetable cooking oils (with the exception of extra-virgin olive oil).
So my advice is to keep using coconut oil, though as my mum always tells me ” everything in moderation ” .