Coconut products have been linked to a plethora of supposed miracle health and beauty benefits from weight loss and increased energy to reduction of wrinkles. The oil rose to prominence after celebrities including Jennifer Aniston and Miranda Kerr attributed the humble coconut to their gorgeous skin, hair and figure. Kerr reportedly takes four tablespoons per day.
The evidence for these claims is conflicting and confusing. You really need to work out which advice you prefer to follow – for some; scientific evidence and peer-reviewed papers is key (although there are mixed messages here also), while others prefer the advice of natural or Chinese therapists.
Coconut for cooking
What we do know about consuming coconut oil is that it’s cholesterol free, and its fat contains a lot of medium chain fatty acids which can boost energy. But that’s about it in terms of solid scientific evidence of health benefits. However, the National Heart Foundation says to avoid using coconut oil and the Dieticians Association of Australia says foods rich in saturated fat (which includes coconut oil) are linked with a higher risk of heart disease, and eating high fat foods makes weight more difficult to control.
But the medical community is divided with some prominent researchers, such as American Dr Mary Enig, who pioneered research into the dangers of trans-fats, supporting its benefits. She published research that led her to encourage people to consume coconut oil for weight loss, general health and even viral infections. Many scientists who support coconut oil consumption suggest it should be used in heat based cooking because it’s stable when heated and to use virgin olive oil in salads as it has fewer saturated fats.
Coconut for drinking
Qualified Chinese medicine practitioner with ten years experience, Kim McLaren, says coconut water is rich in electrolytes. She advises that coconut water’s chemical profile is close to blood plasma in its make up. “It is high in potassium (mineral and electrolyte) which is important for the cells’ formation and tissues and really important for heart function. In many Asians cultures it has been used for digestive discomfort and urinary tract infections. From a Chinese Medicine point of view I believe it replenishes yin which reduces the ageing process,” says Kim.
Find Kim at www. tcmmindbodybalance.com.au
However the Dieticians Association advises, “Coconut water is often marketed for the nutrients it contains, like calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. But these nutrients are in very low amounts in coconut water. The real miracle drink is plain water.” So give it a try and see what it does in terms of energy and a feeling of wellbeing. At the very least it’s very tasty and is unlikely to do any harm.
Coconut for skincare
Improving tone and elasticity of the skin plus reduction of wrinkles are some of the reported advantages of using coconut oil topically. While you can use coconut oil directly on skin, you might prefer to try a beauty product containing coconut oil such as The Body Shop’s coconut oil body lotion. The Hungarian skincare company Eminence offers a variety of coconut infused creams including age correcting moisturisers. Sanctum has a soothing cream cleanser with coconut. Ecostore creates a range of skin and body products using only good natural ingredients and features coconut oil in its hand and body washes as well as soap.
The Coconut Detox
While researching this article, I found a product being promoted from Fatblasters – the Two Day Coconut Detox. The bottle costs $29 and lasts the two days for the program. It claims you will feel slimmer and have more energy after the detox. When I bought it home I found it was a fasting plan so, preferably no food for two days. No wonder you might feel slimmer! I did try it for two days and limited my food to fruit, nuts and a light evening meal. I didn’t feel any startling benefits, however the three times daily drink did supress my appetite. I suppose if you are looking to create a significant change in your diet this detox/fast could be a good way to get you off to a flying start. It warns not to attempt the detox if you’re pregnant, and limit your exercise while on the plan. It also encourages you to keep up with the coconut drink to maintain a healthy weight – no wonder! At almost $30 every two days, they want you drinking as much as possible.
One thing is clear – if you want to give coconut oil a try, go for virgin and unrefined. The Niulife brand is the product Miranda Kerr supports and can be found by visiting: www.coconuthealthandhealing.com/buy-product.
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