The Co­conut-oil Craze

With ben­e­fits that can in­clude weight loss, white teeth, glow­ing skin, and shiny hair, co­conut oil is the health and beauty cure-all du jour.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Contents - By Emily Dud­ding.

Move over, co­conut wa­ter, your big sis­ter has come to town. Co­conut oil – specif­i­cally, vir­gin co­conut oil ex­tracted from the meat of the fruit – is sud­denly on the lips (and in the mouths) of ev­ery­one from holis­tic-minded celebs (yes, Gwyneth is one of them) to the most skep­ti­cal main­stream doc­tors. Pro­po­nents claim co­conut oil can boost me­tab­o­lism, brighten teeth, and strengthen im­mu­nity. It is also tak­ing a star turn in body balms, beauty treat­ments, anti-agers, and even hair prod­ucts be­cause of its abil­ity to lock in mois­ture with­out petroleum-based in­gre­di­ents or other chem­i­cals.

Model Miranda Kerr is a char­ter mem­ber of the coco club. “I’ve been in­clud­ing co­conut oil in my diet for years be­cause of the health ben­e­fits,” she shares. “I add it to sal­ads and smooth­ies, I cook with it, I smooth it all over as a hy­drat­ing treat­ment.”

“Co­conut oil is unique in its chemical make-up,” re­veals Bruce Fife, a nu­tri­tion­ist and natur­o­pathic doc­tor, and the au­thor of The

Co­conut Oil Mir­a­cle. “Most of the fat we eat is made up of long chain fatty acids, which are pro­cessed dif­fer­ently. They’re sent to the liver, which recog­nises them as fuel.” Though co­conut oil has about 120 calo­ries per ta­ble­spoon, Fife swears it won’t pack on pounds. “It kicks me­tab­o­lism into a higher gear, so you get a boost of en­ergy and burn calo­ries faster,” he ex­plains. “and be­cause fat tends to be more sat­is­fy­ing, it makes you feel full.” Fife, who rec­om­mends eat­ing one to three ta­ble­spoons of vir­gin co­conut oil daily, also touts its abil­ity to fight in­flam­ma­tion. A good-qual­ity op­tion is Rain­for­est Herbs Or­ganic Cold-Pressed Vir­gin Co­conut Oil (RM45).

Christo­pher Och­ner, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at Ic­ahn School of Medicine at Mount Si­nai Hospi­tal in New York and a nu­tri­tion and obe­sity ex­pert, is re­serv­ing judg­ment. “There is anec­do­tal ev­i­dence that cer­tain types of all-nat­u­ral sat­u­rated fats have health ben­e­fits, but there is no con­vinc­ing ev­i­dence that co­conut oil speeds up me­tab­o­lism or helps burn more fat.” But, Och­ner adds, there may be some­thing to an­other claim: “Medium-chain fatty acids may im­prove mem­ory func­tion as they pro­mote the pro­duc­tion of ke­tones, a source of fuel for the brain.” Fans are find­ing novel ways of go­ing coco. Oil pulling may sound like some­thing dreamed up by an ag­gres­sive auto

me­chanic, but it’s ac­tu­ally an an­cient ayurvedic den­tal rem­edy. The prac­tice, said to whiten teeth by re­duc­ing plaque, im­prove gum health, and sweeten breath, is sim­ple: Once a day, swish three spoon­fuls of vir­gin co­conut oil in your mouth for 20 min­utes be­fore rins­ing. Marc Lowen­berg, a New York cos­metic den­tist who tends to the smile of Ju­lianna Mar­gulies, is giv­ing the trend his bless­ing. “Most tox­ins are fat sol­u­ble,” says Lowen­berg. “When you swish oil in your mouth, the tox­ins merge with oil so when you ex­pec­to­rate, you are spit­ting out tox­ins. Stud­ies have shown that plaque lev­els are sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced.”

The oil’s mois­tur­is­ing prop­er­ties are even win­ning over der­ma­tol­o­gists. “It gives the skin an in­stant glow, and it doesn’t cause break­outs, be­cause of its an­tibac­te­rial, an­ti­fun­gal, and an­tiox­i­dant ef­fects,” says New York der­ma­tol­o­gist Paul Jar­rod Frank. “And it has ferulic acid, which re­duces in­flam­ma­tion. It works well with Retin-A or peels that cause dry­ness.” Which ex­plains why spas are in­cor­po­rat­ing it into treat­ments. At Tanam­era Well­ness Spa, the Cocos Spa Treat­ment starts with a heav­enly body mas­sage us­ing Tanam­era Vir­gin Co­conut Oil, fol­lowed by a steam in the sauna. Then, you are scrubbed with Tanam­era Dessi­cated Co­conut body pol­ish be­fore re­lax­ing with a co­conut milk body wrap and co­conut milk bath. For ev­ery­day treat­ments, Burt’s Bees Co­conut Foot Creme (RM72) and Sephora Collection Co­conut Smooth­ing Body Scrub (RM29) are rich and ad­dic­tive.

Hair is get­ting a trop­i­cal punch, too. Celebrity stylist Mark Townsend cre­ates a spe­cial con­coc­tion for clients such as Mary-Kate and Ash­ley Olsen. “I mix half a cup of raw co­conut oil with a lit­tle jo­joba, vi­ta­min E, and olive, macadamia, and car­rot oils,” he says. “If you put it on your hair when you’re at the beach or pool, salt and chlo­rine can’t pen­e­trate.” Kerr says, “I also ap­ply straight or­ganic vir­gin co­conut oil weekly as a nat­u­ral hair treat­ment.”

Now, if only some­one would tell us piña co­ladas are a health elixir, we’d be all set for sum­mer.

Co­conut oil is the lat­est es­sen­tial for top-to-toe beauty

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