Why you should be putting your trust in coconut oil, according to experts

Coconut oil has been a mainstay in traditional Indian households for centuries, as both food and a wellness remedy. In the West, however, it has enjoyed a less than wholesome image until the late ’90s, because of its high saturated fat content. Then it got an image makeover in the mid-oughties — for its good fat content — and became one of the most favoured ingredients in the ketogenic diet. Now, coconut oil is once more facing flak — in August, at a lecture on nutrition, Harvard professor and epidemiologist Karin Michels called it “pure poison”, sending the Internet into a frenzy. We spoke to three trusted experts to settle the debate.


“Coconut oil, known as narikela in Ayurveda, is packed with good fats, fibre, proteins and essential minerals. It has a low glycaemic index, which means it regulates the release of sugar into the blood stream when mixed with food. You can also consume one-to-two teaspoons of virgin coconut oil before meals to strengthen the limbs, with meals to improve your digestive fire and prevent cavities, and after, to heal chronic pain in the head and neck. When applied topically, it works as a natural sunscreen, and has anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing properties.”

— Dr Naresh Perumbuduri, Senior ayurvedic physician, Ananda in the Himalayas

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“Unlike other forms of oil that cannot be broken down by the body, coconut oil is an MCT (medium chain triglyceride) that goes directly into the mitochondria that gives you an energy boost at a cellular level. It’s also one of the few saturated fats that doesn’t increase your cholesterol level. Cook your food in it, or introduce simple sides like coconut chutney to your diets.”

— Dr Vishakha Shivdasani, General physician and lifestyle and nutrition specialist


“In addition to being a great moisturiser, coconut oil strengthens the skin’s barrier against the effects of pollution. Using it as a massage oil improve circulation and regulates the skin’s temperature, keeping it warm in cold climates. Heat the oil with crushed garlic and apply it on the skin to hydrate and kill impurities.”

— Dr Jaishree Sharad, Dermatologist

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