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Diet & Nutrition

Coconut oil: Miracle elixir or trendy fad?

It’s become a staple of the alternative wellness movement, but not everyone is convinced that the oil of this tropical nut lives up to the hype.

It’s become a staple of the alternative wellness movement, but not everyone is convinced that the oil of this tropical nut lives up to the hype.
If you believe the hype, coconut oil is a miracle food. Touted as the latest healthy oil, it’s being used liberally in everything from smoothies, salads and raw desserts to cooking, skincare and hair treatments.
Supermodel Miranda Kerr is said to consume it daily, Pete Evans extols its benefits in his Paleo cooking and it’s a staple of Sarah Wilson’s sugar-free movement, too. There are books devoted to its alleged healing properties.
Proving just how fashionable it has become, Nielsen data shows that there has been a 165 per cent increase in the purchase of coconut oil products by Australian households in 2014/15 compared to two years previously. Now, more than one in 10 homes has it in their cupboards – more so in the under-35s.
When a pricey jar of oil moves from niche speciality and health food stores to the shelves of Coles and Woolworths, you know it’s become mainstream. Retailers also like it because it has a good shelf-life, which is due to its high saturated fat content. Yet is coconut oil really all it’s cracked up to be?
Coconut oil fits in with the low-carb, high-fat movement that has had some popularity – think Atkins, Paleo, ketogenic, Banting and Scarsdale. You may come across some recipes promoted as part of these diets calling for large amounts of coconut oil – such as an alternative recipe for lamingtons containing a whopping half a litre of it. That, surely, would be overdoing it, right?
In the current issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly Health magazine we go in search for answers and find health experts, chefs and coconut oil lobbyists all squabbling over the so-called tropical tonic and our findings might surprise you.
To find out more about this story, as well as other health and wellness features, pick up a copy of The Australian Women’s Weekly Health magazine on stands now with Rachael Finch on the cover.

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