Coconut is bang on trend right now and is packed full of health benefits.
Clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us five reasons why coconut oil has bagged the title of ‘superfood’.
Coconut is one of the most important nut crops in the world, grown on around 12 million hectares across 86 countries. It is clearly in demand but what is so special about this superfood?
IT IS PACKED WITH MCFA’S
Medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) are not processed in the body in the same way as other saturated fats; they are actually broken down in the body and used as an energy source rather than being stored as fat. This is why people use coconut oil to boost energy levels and why they are so popular with sports people and athletes.
IT CONTAINS LAURIC ACID
Lauric acid is the key MCFA found in coconut oil. It contains powerful anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties so is often used by people trying to eradicate candida or yeast infections. It also helps protect against viruses, as well as supporting the immune system. Lauric acid is also found in breast milk, hence it provides much of the immune protection that new-borns receive from their mother. Breast milk, together with palm oil, are the only other sources of lauric acid, so coconuts are key.
IT IS SAFE FOR COOKING
In fact, it’s one of the safest oils for cooking. Certain oils that we regularly use for cooking, particularly polyunsaturated oils such as sunflower oil, are chemically unstable, meaning they produce free radicals when heated. Heating unstable oils produces hydrogenated and trans fats, which are chemically altered and not recognised by the body. They are known to be a factor in raised cholesterol. However, because coconut oil has a high melting point, it’s much more stable when used at high temperatures and is even safer than olive oil.
IT IS A BEAUTY-BOOSTER
Coconut oil is as useful in the bathroom as it is in the kitchen. In its raw form it makes a great body exfoliator, and in its smoother form a great moisturiser, which will leave your skin feeling beautifully supple and smooth. It’s also a great hair conditioner, which is best applied and left on for 20 minutes to really penetrate the hair and scalp; you’ll be left with luxuriously shiny hair!
IT IS A RECIPE STAPLE
For raw foodies, coconut is a store cupboard essential. It can be used in curries, stir-fries, smoothies, ice cream, and cereal bars, to name just a few. It’s also great for producing fantastically crispy and tasty roast potatoes. The taste of coconut oil can vary considerably between brands. It’s always best to buy raw coconut oil, which has been cold-pressed and has not been subjected to over-heating.