You can’t avoid coconut today – a quick scroll through Instagram shows numerous fitness gurus cooking with coconut oil, while celebs are lining up to endorse the latest coconut products, like coconut water or coconut butter, and beauty bloggers are praising coconut oil for hair and skin. But how healthy are they really?
We take a look at the top 5 coconut myths and reveal the – science-based – truth.
1. Is coconut water bad for you?
In short – no, quite the opposite. It’s hard to work out where this myth comes from, as there’s a huge amount of evidence that coconut water is bursting with health benefits. Studies show not only is it an excellent way to rehydrate after exercise – it contains five times more potassium than leading sports drinks – coconut water can help lower blood pressure, fight hangovers and settle upset stomachs. However, it does contain some natural sugars, so shouldn’t totally replace water, and has less sodium than some sports drinks; serious athletes may need a supplement. But most of us are fine to simply start sipping on coconut water.
2. How healthy is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is very healthy. Coconut oil is the little black dress of wellbeing – everyone should have some! The superfood has been found to help slim belly fat, fight osteoporosis, boost endurance during exercise, ease arthritis, prevent gum disease, raise levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, soothe dry skin… shall we go on?! But it is still a saturated fat (albeit a much better version than animal fat) so you should treat it the same as any other fat to avoid overloading on calories. The good news is the majority of this fat is made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that your body breaks down for energy rather than storing as fat.
3. Can you lose weight with coconut oil?
The truth is both yes – and no! Coconut oil is a saturated fat, meaning it can contribute to weight gain if you eat too much. Rather than simply adding coconut oil to your diet, use it to replace your usual fats like olive oil or butter but also think about where you can cut down on fat overall. The flipside is that MCTs can boost our metabolism, burning more calories, and helping us lose weight. They can specifically cut down on abdominal fat in both men and women too, whittling away at your waistline.
4. Is coconut oil good for your skin?
Coconut oil is antifungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial, so it’s actually one of the best treatments for acne. The high level of antioxidants in virgin coconut oil means it’s a natural wrinkle-fighter too. Those with oily skin may worry about putting more oil on their faces, but if you’ve been using oil-reducing products, your skin overcompensates by producing even more oil. Coconut oil helps rebalance this process and leaves you less oily in the long run. Although try not to overload your skin, which can lead to blocked pores – remove it thoroughly if you are using coconut oil as a cleanser, and start with a small amount as a moisturiser to see how your skin responds.
5. Does cooking with coconut make everything taste like coconut?
Definitely not. Adding coconut milk to Thai or Indian recipes doesn’t make them taste like macaroons, so coconut milk is fine to use in smoothies or salad dressings. Coconut sugar tastes similar to brown sugar, rather than sickly sweet coconut, while coconut water barely tastes of anything! Some people say the oil does have a slight coconut flavour, but this depends on the particular brand, type of coconut oil and personal taste. Why not find out for yourself? We’ve got the best coconut recipes to enjoy during your day.