Everyone is talking about coconut at the moment. Whether they’re praising it for making hair super shiny and skin supple and soft, or celebrating its many uses in the kitchen, people are going crazy for this hairy brown fruit.
Studies show coconut oil can help you lose weight, while beauty experts are passionate about its skin-boosting properties. But there’s plenty more health benefits to the simple coconut.
Give it a try and it could give your body, brain and beauty regime a boost. We’re sure you won’t look back.
1. It could aid weight loss
The big thumbs-up for coconut oil is that it contains a saturated fat called lauric acid, a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) that your body breaks down for energy rather than storing as fat. Even better, a study published in the journal Lipids found eating 2 tablespoons of coconut oil every day for 3 months could help women reduce their belly fat.
Additional research has discovered coconut oil can help raise metabolism and curb your appetite. The journal Obesity Research reported that virgin coconut oil could help overweight men burn extra calories and lose more weight. Remember it is still a fat – it contains as many calories as other fats – so keep an eye on your intake.
2. It can reduce the appearance of wrinkles
Coconut oil is one of the best anti-ageing beauty oils available, thanks to its ability to protect skin from damaging free radicals. Lauric acid can also help treat inflammation, which is known to cause skin ageing.
Its versatility means you can use it as a moisturiser for your face and body, or as a simple make-up remover.
3. It can fight the frizz
Curls are big news this season, but perming and dying your hair could lead to serious damage. Curly hair is dryer than straight hair, as the hair oils cannot travel down the hair shaft as easily. Coloured hair is more porous and loses moisture much more quickly.
Putting a layer of coconut oil on your hair after conditioning – or using a coconut oil conditioner – can help seal in moisture. It will smooth down the hair shaft to create glossy, frizz-free curls.
4. It could boost your brain power
It’s still early days, but a pilot study has revealed that coconut oil can help protect the brain from conditions such as dementia. Canadian scientists found that coconut oil protected brain cells from damaging proteins, or plaques, that build up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
5. It can maintain a healthy heart
Unlike olive oil, coconut oil doesn’t degrade at high temperatures. For example – it won’t form unhealthy free radicals which can cause inflammation in your circulation; a risk factor for heart disease. This oil has been shown to raise levels of ‘good’ cholesterol and reduce levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol too.
Drinking coconut water can also help lower high blood pressure – another known risk factor for heart disease. A study published in the West Indian Medical Journal found drinking the juice reduced blood pressure to much safer levels.
6. It can ease arthritis
The anti-inflammatory effect of lauric acid can also ease sore joints following exercise. Or in those suffering from arthritis. Indian researchers discovered that antioxidants extracted from virgin coconut oil could reduce joint inflammation in those with arthritis more effectively than prescribed drugs.
7. It can improve athletic performance
Because MCTs are not stored as fat, sports scientists say they are more readily used as a quick energy source. They also reduce the amount of muscle your body breaks down after exercise. This adds up to faster performance and post-workout recovery times.
8. It can help with post-workout recovery
Fitness fans are far more likely to reach for coconut water after a workout than a sports drink, thanks to its isotonic abilities. Coconut water is rich in a range of electrolytes – particularly potassium – that we lose during exercise when we sweat.
It’s also 94 per cent water and contains less sugar than many sports drinks, making it the ideal way to replenish fluids after a gym session or a long run. Stay away from those sugary drinks.
9. It’s a natural antibacterial agent
Coconut oil is also said to have antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. This explains anecdotal and medical evidence that it can help relieve problems with digestion, such as bloating and candida, fight cold sores, and boost the immune system.