Raw, unprocessed, virgin coconut oil has not just popped up as the latest super-food ingredient to be incorporated into our daily diet, it’s also one of the hottest new beauty products on the market right now.
So what’s all the hype about?
Whilst the word ‘oil’ may still have negative connotations – people still believe that consuming oil can cause weight gain due to its fatty content, whilst oil as a beauty product is assumed counterintuitive as it is thought to clog pores and leaving hair looking greasy. But actually, that couldn’t be further from the case. Coconut oil is currently all the rage amongst health experts, A-listers including model Miranda Kerr who hails the oil as her beauty secret, stating “I will not go a day without coconut oil. I personally take four tablespoons per day, either on my salads, in my cooking or in my cups of green tea.” And as an oil derived from the meat of matured coconuts, not only is it slow to oxidize and turn rancid, ensuring its shelf life and beauty powers hold out for up to two years, it improves heart health, supports weight loss, boosts the immune system and actually increases the metabolism.
Unlike other cooking oils or butters, it is also able to withstand high heat and doesn’t break down and oxidize during the cooking process, making it the healthier option. It may be high in fat, but they’re the healthy saturated type. And if you haven’t already had it drummed into you – LOW FAT is BAD, NATURAL FATS are GOOD. Which means, yes you should be eating avocados, nuts and coconut oil. And no you shouldn’t be consuming butters, any type of “low-fat”doesn’t spreads, yoghurts or butters (low fat means they have been tampered with and often have additional sugars to make them more tasty.)
And whilst you may assume that this is just another health food fad, the population of The Pacific Islands couldn’t disagree more. Consuming a diet that consists of nearly 30-60% caloric intake from saturated fats from coconut oil and a heart disease rate of nearly zero. It’s the Pacific Islanders best kept secret.
Wondering what (if anything) to eat before a 6.30 am workout, Bodyism trainer Tegan Haining informs me that a spoonful of coconut oil will give me all of the energy I need. It may sound gag-inducing but as long as you don’t attempt to chew it, instead letting the oil melt in the mouth, it’s surprisingly palatable. And works a treat.
US Olympic gold medalist Apolo Ohno also advocates coconut oil pre-training and performance, having been quoted as saying that his routine dinner the night before a race is “broccoli and brown rice topped with coconut oil”. The oil’s high content of medium chain triglycerides gives the body immediate energy and is also the reason why it’s hailed as a great “fat burner.”
If you really can’t stomach it straight, blend a tablespoon of coconut oil into a smoothie.
Extending beyond the kitchen, coconut oil is a wonder of a topical beauty product. And beauty brands have cottoned onto its multiple benefits and uses, from adding lustre and shine, moisturising and stimulating hair growth to fighting acne and as an effective anti-ager.
We’re currently loving these;
Dr Organic Coconut Oil Moisture Melt Body Oil. £8.99 Hollandandbarrett.com
Winner of “Best New Bath and Body Product” at the 2013 Cosmetic Executive Women’s awards, this all-natural coconut body oil is enriched with Gardenia Flowers, papaya Seed Oil, Mango Butter and Lemon Peel Oil. Not only are its ingredients so natural that they read like a recipe list, the oil will leave your skin and hair ultra-nourished and you smelling fresh from the tropics.
Organix Nourishing Coconut Milk Anti Breakage Serum, £5.99 Boots.com
Whilst a DIY mixture of coconut oil might deeply condition and nourish, it will need rinsing out, which is why day to day we love this hair serum. Featuring a blend of coconut oil, coconut milk and egg-white proteins (yes, it sounds like a breakfast option to us too!), it repairs the hair weightlessly, leaving it shiny and lustrous.
Burt’s Bees Coconut Foot Creme, £12.25 JohnLewis.com
This foot creme is 99.51% natural, and its main ingredient is…you guessed it, coconut oil, which rejuvenates dry and dead skin. It’s also infused with rosemary and peppermint to refresh.
Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula Protein Pack, £1.99 Superdrug.co.uk
If the idea of slathering pure oil into your hair isn’t for you, then try one of these deep conditioning protein treatments instead. Ideal for summer holidays to recondition sun-drenched and salt-water dried out hair.