The rise in popularity of the humble coconut
It seems as if everyone is going nuts for coconuts. And for good reason. Whether you want to eat it, drink it, or use it in your beauty regime there’s not much that this tropical treat can’t do.
For many years coconut has been shunned as an everyday ingredient due to its high fat content. But now research suggests that the particular type of fat in coconuts could, in fact, actually help lower cholesterol and aid weight loss.
Coconut oil is ideal for baking, and it because it has a very high smoking point it’s also great for dishes such as stir fries.
The coconut meat itself is rich in fibre as well as iron and potassium. Try adding shaved or shredded coconut to salads, or mix with breadcrumbs as a topping for chicken or fish. If you’d like try using more coconut in your cooking then try the three-piece tasting pack from TIANA (£23, qvc.co.uk) containing organic coconut oil, raw coconut and crystallised coconut nectar.
Alternatively, the natural sweetness and nutty texture of coconut makes it great for a guilt-free treat, such as the Bouncy Bars (£21.60 for six, yumbles.com).
You cannot fail to have noticed all the variations of coconut water now on offer in supermarkets and restaurants. Billed as “nature’s sports drink” it’s packed full of electrolytes and potassium making it super-hydrating and ideal for post-workout refreshment. Be careful though, as it is relatively high in sugar so choose natural versions and consume in moderation.
Coconut oil can penetrate hair better than other oils making it ideal for deep conditioning. It’s also great for detangling, makes a great base for colouring, can be used as a natural sunscreen for your tresses and even helps prevent dandruff. You can use neat coconut oil (make sure you warm it until it melts) or an easier option is to buy products which include coconut oil like the Faith in Nature Coconut Shampoo and Conditioner (£5.50 for 400ml, faithinnnature.co.uk).
Coconut is good for the skin for a whole myriad of reasons. When applied to the skin the fats in coconut oil help the skin to retain moisture and keep it smooth and healthy, helping to eliminate the appearance of pores. It’s also rich in vitamin-E which can help reduce signs of premature ageing and has disinfectant and anti-microbial properties which can aid wound healing. Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula body range (from £2.39, Superdrug) has four hero products – body lotion, body crème, body oil and hand cream – to keep your skin looking and feeling amazing, while the Yes to Coconut range (from £3.99, Amazon, Asos, FeelUnique and Whole Foods) which includes a cleanser, moisturising soufflé and face wipes, is packed with all of the goodness from the whole coconut, including the oil, milk, water and even the shell hush with other non-greasy moisturisers to help smooth dry skin.
If you haven’t heard of oil pulling yet the chances are you soon will. Gwyneth Paltrow is an advocate and it’s rapidly gaining in popularity Stateside. But what is it? Basically, it’s an ancient Ayurvedic dental technique that involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes and can supposedly help with bad breath, tooth decay, teeth whitening and can also boost your immune system. The way oil it works is simple. As the oil hits your teeth and gums, microbes are picked up as though they are being drawn to a powerful magnet. Bacteria hiding under crevices in the gums, pores and tubules within the teeth are sucked out of their hiding places and held firmly in the solution. The longer you push and pull the oil through your mouth, the more microbes are pulled free. The Diamond Whites Black Edition Tooth Whitening Edition (£9.99, diamondwhites.co.uk) is made with organic coconut oil and peppermint essential oil as well as a small amount of Activated Charcoal from coconut shell to make it mild abrasive therefore gently whitening.