Before you buy that $ 14 tub, here’s what you need to know.

Photo: Stocksy

You run it through your hair, melt it in a wok and layer it on your face before bed. You might even use it to whiten your teeth.

That would sound gross if it were any other condiment, but coconut oil has seduced nutrition and beauty gurus, on Instagram and beyond. Some people even eat a spoonful with their morning cereal (we’re looking at you, Angelina Jolie).

But recently, there has been some intense discussion about the pros and cons of this bad boy, with reports that it is higher in saturated fat than butter while others say it can cure Alzheimer’s disease.

So before you go melting it into your tea, a la Miranda Kerr, we got the skinny to see if this ‘magical’ substance is really all its oiled up to be.

According to Nutritionist Fiona Tuck, one tablespoon per day of coconut oil – enjoyed alongside with a balanced diet – is fine.

“Coconut oil is antimicrobial, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and claims to assist a variety of health conditions from toenail fungus to diabetes.

“Consumed as part of a daily diet in conjunction with antioxidant rich oils, fresh fruits and vegetables is a holistic and healthy way to eat.”

Duly noted. Then what’s all the fuss about?

“Coconut oil is higher in the medium chain fatty acids, around 50 per cent. Comparatively, butter contains around 15 per cent MCT’s.”

So while it has some benefits, it’s not good for the waistline?

“The healthy fats called medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) found in coconut oil include caprylic acid, lauric acid and capric acid. MCFA’s are easier to process in the body, which means it is easier for the body to use them as fuel, which means it is less likely to be stored as fat.

“But too much saturated fat can be problematic for those with gall bladder or liver dysfunction and even those with high cholesterol and heart disease. Use coconut oil in cooking, particularly high temperature cooking as the heat can breakdown more unstable oils such as olive oil. It’s perfect for stir fry and baking, but remember: it is still a saturated fat.”

The bottom line?

“It is what you eat with the coconut oil that affects your health, so a wholefood diet low in processed foods and rich in fresh food is the best option.”

Fiona Tuck is a qualified practising nutritionist. For more information on healthy eating, recipe ideas and nutrition info visit or follow Fiona on Instagram@fionatucknutrition.

August 10, 20164:26pm

Nutrition | body+soul

Read more