Coconuts

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Ever since man – and woman – were first cast away on a desert island, beauty-hunters have known about the powers of the coconut. Split one of these strange-looking fruits open, and it’s an instant, whisk-you-to-a-paradise-beach experience, seducing with the lush sweetness of its flesh and milk. But that’s not all: for thousands of years, the coconut has been part of tropical beauty rituals: a hair re-glosser, skin nourisher – and if Cleopatra had been living closer to a palm-fringed beach, would she not have bathed in coconut milk, rather than the asses’ variety?

More recently, the oil-rich coconut fell from favour. It was too calorific, insisted the fat-phobic waistline-watchers. More: that fattiness was of the saturated variety, explained the nutritionists – which surely had to be bad news for our hearts. (And for the farmers who grew coconuts, too: since the mid-70s, demand for coconut oil fell, so many were forced to abandon their plantations and head for the cities, to make a living.) Meanwhile, in body oils and hair masks, coconut’s unrivalled, skin-compatible richness was often replaced by man-made moisturisers.
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Nuts About Coconuts

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Coconuts are so fashionable, they’re right up there with Cara Delevingne, gold gladiator sandals and Chanel sunnies. You’d have to have spent the last few months on a desert island not to notice that the health and beauty world has gone nuts for coconut. And rightly so: in fact, ever since man – and woman – was first cast away on the afore-mentioned desert island, beauty-hunters recognised the powers of the coconut. Split one of these strange-looking fruits open, and it’s an instant, whisk-you-to-a-paradise-beach experience, seducing with the lush sweetness of its flesh and milk. But that’s not all: for thousands of years, the coconut has been part of tropical beauty rituals: a hair re-glosser, skin nourisher – and if Cleopatra had been living closer to a palm-fringed beach, would she not have bathed in coconut milk, rather than the asses’ variety?

For a while, though, the oil-rich coconut fell from favour. It was too calorific, insisted the fat-phobic waistline-watchers. More: that fattiness was of the saturated variety, explained the nutritionists – which surely had to be bad news for our hearts. (And for the farmers who grew coconuts, too: since the mid-70s, demand for coconut oil fell, so many were forced to abandon their plantations and head for the cities, to make a living.) Meanwhile, in body oils and hair masks, coconut’s unrivalled, skin-compatible richness was often replaced by man-made moisturisers.

But now there’s been a rethink. Coconut is back in favour – and how – with coconut books climbing the bestseller list: The Coconut Diet, by Cherry Calbom with John Calbom, The Coconut Oil Miracle, by Bruce Fife, and Eat Fat, Lose Fat: Lose Weight and Feel Great with Three Delicious Science-Based Coconut Diets (authors: Mary G. Enig and Sally Fallon). Nutritionists have done a complete volte face about the healthiness of coconut. The thinking? In tropical cultures – such as the Philippines – where coconut is a staple in the diet, it was noticed that even though that diet was high in calories, people were svelte and slender. Read More…