Row rages over coconut oil

Coconut oil is a time-tested food item across Asia.

Harvard prof says it is pure poison. Not really, say city nutritionists

Indians love coconut oil, and have been using it for centuries in their cooking.

Karin Michels, Harvard professor who delivered a lecture two weeks ago, says it is ‘pure poison’. She described it as “one of the worst foods you can eat.”

Metrolife spoke to nutritionists in Bengaluru and asked, ‘Is coconut oil that bad?’

 Sheela Krishnaswamy, diet, nutrition and wellness consultant says, “Innumerable studies show coconut oil is not detrimental to health and can be used regularly albeit in suggested quantities. It is a time-tested food item in Asian culture. If it were truly poisonous, Asians would have been wiped out by now.”

Its benefits are like the benefits of other oils: it provides a vehicle for fat-soluble vitamins and helps build cell membranes.

“It also contains medium chain triglycerides which do not raise blood cholesterol levels,” she says.

However, she advises caution. “Since coconut oil is high in saturated fat, cardiac patients need to be careful. Studies now say trans fatty acids are more harmful than saturated fat, but I would wait for more research to make this conclusive.”

Ryan Fernandes, chief nutritionist, QUA Nutrition, suggests that a nutrition gene test can help determine if a particular ingredient is good for you or not.

“You can also try this — include the oil in your regular diet for three months and get a blood test done. Do the same three months later by removing it from your diet. The difference in the two results will help you determine whether it is good for you,” he says.

Making a generalisation is wrong, especially since one man’s food is another man’s poison, he told Metrolife.
 

I see Indians have a genetic positivity to saturated fat. This means coconut oil, found in this part of the world and used regularly in our diet, is technically not poisonous.
Ryan Fernandes, Nutrition expert

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Row rages over coconut oil

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