When you hear coconut, you automatically think healthy. After all, it's a fruit right?

But for years coconut oil has had a really bad press as a high-fat food we should all steer clear of. But as the experts are getting more familiar with good and bad cholesterol, it seems the tide has turned for coconut oil.

Coconut Oil: So what's different?

In the past, studies showed that coconut oil was full of saturated fat, a term that immediately rings alarm bells. Saturated fat has traditionally been said to lead to clogged arteries and heart problems. However, more recently the science buffs have said some saturated fats in a balanced diet can create HDL - a'good' cholesterol -and lowers the risk of heart disease. Good news!

Coconut oil is at its best though in its virgin form. When it is hydrogenated – like it is in snack food – it turns into a trans fat, which is a big health no-no. Trans fats are not natural to the body - or nature! - and should generally be avoided.

Give your body a boost with coconut oil

So as well as dropping the fatty reputation, coconut oil has been found to have a range of health benefits. A recent study by the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland found that treated coconut oil prevented the growth of one of the major causes of tooth decay – the streptococcus bacteria. As around a third of UK adults have tooth decay, it could help loads of us get a nicer smile.

Support your immune system

Although as yet unproven, coconut oil could help the body fight off infection. It contains a natural antibiotic that the body makes itself, called monolaurin, which can ward off infection. Some claim that putting a little coconut oil on cuts and bruises could even make them heal faster. But for its soothing qualities alone coconut oil could be described as a health-booster. A little coconut oil after a tough day makes you feel more restful, relieving stress.

Luxury locks and smoother skin

As coconut oil is full of fat, it is also a great moisturiser. Products packed with the tropical fruit help hair recover from pollution and sun-damage, turning it from brittle to beautiful. The same is true for your skin, with coconut oil providing deep moisturisation to make you silky smooth.

Posted by Matilda Jones