Aug. 25, 2011— -- Victoria's Secret supermodel Miranda Kerr revealed her most prized beauty secret last month -- coconut oil.
Kerr told readers of Australian Cosmopolitan that coconut oil was the key to her clear skin, shiny hair and trim figure, saying she ingests four tablespoons a day, either on salads, in her cooking or in her cups of green tea.
But can coconut oil really give anyone a supermodel body?
"I don't think so," said Keith Ayoob, director of the nutrition clinic at the Children's Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "I can't say I'd want people consuming lots of coconut oil. You should use it sparingly."
Ayoob said coconut oil is simply a saturated fat, with a high calorie count and few vitamins and minerals.
"You want to cut back on saturated fats in your diet," Ayoob said. "I don't know what benefit it would have for weight management because it has just as many calories as any other fat."
One tablespoon of coconut oil contains 117 calories, according to the Mayo Clinic. Kerr's daily dose of four tablespoons would mean she was consuming 468 calories, in addition to the calories from the rest of her diet.
And that might not be so great for people who need to watch their weight, said Dr. Robert Eckel, director of the General Clinical Research Center at Colorado Health Science University in Denver. "If the oils have that many calories in it, does it substitute for other calories or is it just a supplement?"
The other problem, Eckel said, is coconut oil is also a source of saturated fat.
"The types of fat in coconut oil raise concerns about how her cholesterol is doing," he said. "It would be interesting to know what her LDL [bad] cholesterol intake was before she started this and what it is now.
"Saturated fat intake does contribute to LDL cholesterol, and that has been pretty well documented by research," said Eckel.
Ayoob also mentioned the saturated fat content of this supposed elixir. "She's getting 2½ times the amount of saturated fat I would recommend for a person consuming 2,000 calories per day," he said.
So what options do dieters have without Kerr's remedy? "As a 150-calorie treat, I'd rather go for an ounce of dark chocolate," Ayoob said. "It probably has more nutritional benefit than coconut oil. And it's certainly going to be more satisfying."