Nicole's Taste of Health

When does a regular food become a super food? When it has lots of dough spent on promotion. And the over-hyped, “super” food of the moment is coconut: the Kardashian of the food world due to abundant self-promotion. Its uber-cool aura has now drifted from the health nuts to normal folk who are apparently caught; hook, line and sinker.

I love coconut for its flavour, texture and versatility in the kitchen. What I hate is amateur nutritionists encouraging coconut oil in everything because “it helps lose weight”, and the shameless marketers and their misleading advertising and PR. If I see another dodgy, unfounded, exaggerated and pseudo-scientific claim about the superiority of anything to do with coconut I think I’ll scream. And it’s often a svelte, whippet of a trainer preaching to podgy, office-dwelling clients about ditching their usual oil and switching to coconut oil for cooking and dressing because “it won’t turn to fat” and “it’s good for the heart”. Talk about tinkering around the edges; adding coconut oil will not health-ify an average diet. This is a classic case of wanting your cake and eating it too in a world filled with too much cake. The evidence for coconut oil helping with weight loss and cholesterol is scant. In fact, the position of heart health organisations around the world is to caution against too much coconut fat because it is 90% saturated fat and likely to increase bad LDL cholesterol.

Now, let’s get back to good things about coconut. It’s a very clever food which yields many different products: coconut water (fat-free liquid from inside the coconut), coconut flesh that can be eaten fresh or dried (desiccated), or squeezed to make oil, milk and cream. Nowadays there’s even coconut milk yoghurt, coconut flour, coconut sugar, coconut syrup and even coconut vinegar – très exotique! This product diversity is born of necessity in countries for which coconuts are a staple crop, but they’ve taken on new-age cachet (and premium price) in our natural food stores because they are interesting and different.

Coconut oil
There’s a lot to love about coconut, provided you take the marketing hype with a large grain of salt.

Buon appetito!

Nicole and Finn

Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author and consultant who strives to make healthy food taste terrific. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook or checkout her website