It’s one of the latest fads of a healthy lifestyle; you can’t scroll safely through your Pinterest or Instagram without coming across a ‘healthy’ recipe containing coconut oil or a beauty hack that involves slapping it on to some part of your body. So, when and where on your body is coconut oil actually benefitting us and is it worth ditching other products for?
Firstly, this is a natural, unprocessed oil if you buy it pure, which has got to be better than the chemically enhanced beauty products on offer, right? It’s rumoured to benefit you in several ways, including helping you to lose weight and protecting against heart and thyroid problems as well as Alzheimer’s. But this all sounds a bit too good to be true to me…
About 84% of the calories contained in coconut oil come from saturated fat. In comparison, olive oil’s percentage is only 14% and even butter only hikes up to 63%. Some people claim that because coconut oil’s saturated fat is mainly made up of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), it is less bad for you, as these supposedly boost the good cholesterol in your body – HDLs. But it also raises the bad cholesterol in your body – LDLs – that forms plaque in your arteries which, for obvious reasons, isn’t particularly healthy. While a rise in HDLs would help to remove this plaque, it is not known if the benefits outweigh the harmful LDLs.
So, coconut oil doesn’t seem to be all it’s cracked up to be. It’s not a super healthy miracle fat for cooking as it doesn’t seem to guard against heart disease (plus it makes your food taste all coconutty which, personally, I’m not a huge a fan of). But what about the other health benefits?
If you want to lose weight, you should eat tons and tons of coconut oil thanks to these MCT things, right? Umm… not exactly! Coconut has a pretty high calorie content, so if you’re adding it to your diet then it’s probably best to cut back elsewhere; in other words, it is not a miracle weight loss food.
Although it contains antioxidants that help fight against disease, you’ll get waayyy more from eating a load of fruit and veggies. So again, while it’s not a bad food, it is not an amazing cure-all either, so feel free to stick to a cheaper cooking oil!
What about for beauty?
Many people swear by the stuff and put it all up in their hair and smother their face in it, even I, someone who is incredibly critical of skin care products, have been known to slap it on my hands and lips in the depths of winter.
For those with oily skin prone to blocked pores, it can be used as part of an oil cleansing treatment by unclogging blocked pores by dissolving the oils blocking them. Believe as much of that as you like, for some people it seems to work while for others it doesn’t really make a massive difference or may even make it worse.
There are some fabulous bits and bobs that go into making coconut oil feel so good for many people too. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and lauric acid, which is a fatty acid that has been shown in a study to have anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties which are known to help soothe the skin. But it can also do some serious damage in the pore-blocking vicinity and actually end up causing break outs which is never fun!
Don’t go slathering your face in it all day every day, but use it to treat the odd dry spot. You could stick to using it as a great eye makeup remover thanks to its antibacterial properties and if you fall in love with the stuff then branch out to removing your foundation too!
I think that the age-old saying “everything in moderation” definitely applies here and seeing as we’re now speaking in clichés, I think the answer is that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is! So go ahead and cook and treat your skin with coconut oil, just don’t go crazy and certainly don’t expect a miracle.
Edited by: Tia Ralhan