Coconut milk has recently gained popularity. It’s a tasty substitute for cow’s milk that may also have some health benefits. This article examines the health benefits of coconut milk in depth.
What Exactly Is Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk is made from the white flesh of mature brown coconuts, which are the coconut tree’s fruit.
The milk has a rich, creamy texture and a thick consistency.
This milk is commonly used in Thai and other Southeast Asian cuisines. It’s also popular in Hawaii, India, and a few South American and Caribbean nations.
Coconut milk is not to be confused with coconut water, which is naturally found in immature green coconuts.
The milk, unlike coconut water, does not occur naturally. Instead, solid coconut flesh is combined with water to create coconut milk, which is approximately 50% water.
Coconut water, on the other hand, is approximately 94% water. It is much lower in fat and nutrient content than coconut milk.
The flesh of mature brown coconuts is used to make coconut milk. It’s used in a variety of traditional cuisines all over the world.
How Is It Created?
Coconut milk is classified as thick or thin based on its consistency and degree of processing.
- Thick: Finely grated solid coconut flesh is boiled or simmered in water. To make thick coconut milk, the mixture is strained through cheesecloth.
- Thin: After making thick coconut milk, the remaining grated coconut in the cheesecloth is simmered in water. After that, the straining process is repeated to produce thin milk.
Thick coconut milk is used in desserts and thick sauces in traditional cuisines. Thin milk is used to make soups and sauces.
The majority of canned coconut milk contains a mix of thin and thick milk. It’s also very simple to make your own coconut milk at home, with the thickness adjusted to your preference.
Coconut milk is made by grating the flesh of a brown coconut, soaking it in water, and straining it into a milk-like consistency.
Coconut milk contains a lot of calories.
Approximately 93 percent of its calories are derived from fat, including saturated fats known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).
Milk is also high in a variety of vitamins and minerals: 1 cup (240 g) contains:
- Calories: 552
- Fat: 57 grams
- Protein: 5 grams
- Carbs: 13 grams
- Fiber: 5 grams
- Vitamin C: 11% of the RDI
- Folate: 10% of the RDI
- Iron: 22% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 22% of the RDI
- Potassium: 18% of the RDI
- Copper: 32% of the RDI
- Manganese: 110% of the RDI
- Selenium: 21% of the RDI
Furthermore, some experts believe that coconut milk contains unique proteins that may be beneficial to one’s health. More research, however, is required.
Coconut milk contains a lot of calories and saturated fat. It also contains a variety of other nutrients.
Weight and Metabolism Effects
There is some evidence that MCT fats found in coconut milk may help with weight loss, body composition, and metabolism.
Lauric acid accounts for roughly half of the weight of coconut oil. It can be classified as either a long-chain or a medium-chain fatty acid because its chain length and metabolic effects are intermediate between the two.
However, coconut oil contains 12% true medium-chain fatty acids — capric acid and caprylic acid.
Unlike longer-chain fats, MCTs are transported directly from the digestive tract to the liver, where they are converted into energy or ketone bodies. They have a lower likelihood of being stored as fat.
MCTs may also help reduce appetite and calorie intake when compared to other fats, according to research.
In a small study, overweight men who ate 20 grammes of MCT oil for breakfast consumed 272 fewer calories at lunch than those who ate corn oil.
Furthermore, MCTs can temporarily increase calorie expenditure and fat burning.
The small amounts of MCTs found in coconut milk, on the other hand, are unlikely to have any significant effects on body weight or metabolism.
A few controlled studies in obese and heart disease patients suggest that eating coconut oil reduces waist circumference. However, there was no effect of coconut oil on body weight.
There have been no direct studies on how coconut milk affects weight and metabolism. Before any claims can be made, more research is required.
MCTs are found in trace amounts in coconut milk. Although MCTs may boost metabolism and aid in the loss of belly fat, the low levels found in coconut milk are unlikely to have a significant impact on weight loss.
Cholesterol and Heart Health Effects
People may wonder if coconut milk is a heart-healthy option due to its high saturated fat content.
Although very little research has been conducted on coconut milk, one study suggests that it may benefit people with normal or high cholesterol levels.
In an eight-week study of 60 men, coconut milk porridge was found to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol more than soy milk porridge. Coconut milk porridge also increased “good” HDL cholesterol by 18%, compared to only 3% for soy.
The majority of studies on coconut oil or flakes found improvements in “bad” LDL cholesterol, “good” HDL cholesterol, and/or triglyceride levels.
Although LDL cholesterol levels increased in some studies in response to coconut fat, HDL cholesterol levels increased as well. When compared to other fats, triglycerides decreased.
The main fatty acid in coconut fat, lauric acid, may raise “bad” LDL cholesterol by decreasing the activity of the receptors that remove LDL from your blood.
Two studies on similar populations suggest that the response of cholesterol to lauric acid varies by individual. It could also be determined by the amount in your diet.
In one study, replacing 14 percent of monounsaturated fats with lauric acid raised “bad” LDL cholesterol by about 16 percent, while replacing 4 percent of these fats with lauric acid had very little effect on cholesterol.
Overall, coconut consumption lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels. When “bad” LDL cholesterol levels rise, “good” HDL levels rise as well.
Other Potential Health Advantages
Coconut milk may also be used to:
- In animal studies, coconut extract and coconut oil were found to reduce inflammation and swelling in injured rats and mice.
- Reduce the size of stomach ulcers: In one study, coconut milk reduced the size of stomach ulcers in rats by 54%, a result comparable to the effect of an anti-ulcer drug.
- Defeat viruses and bacteria: Preliminary research suggests that lauric acid may reduce the levels of viruses and bacteria that cause infections. This includes those found in your mouth.
Keep in mind that not all studies looked specifically at the effects of coconut milk.
Although some studies did not focus solely on coconut milk, animal and test-tube studies suggest that it may reduce inflammation, reduce ulcer size, and fight viruses and bacteria that cause infections.
Unless you are allergic to coconuts, the milk is unlikely to cause any problems. Coconut allergies are uncommon in comparison to tree nut and peanut allergies.
However, some digestive disorder experts advise people with FODMAP intolerance to limit their consumption of coconut milk to 1/2 cup (120 ml) at a time.
Many canned varieties contain bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that can leach into food from can linings. In animal and human studies, BPA has been linked to reproductive issues and cancer.
Notably, some brands use BPA-free packaging, which is recommended if you opt for canned coconut milk.
Most people who are not allergic to coconuts should be fine with coconut milk. It is preferable to use BPA-free cans.
How to Make Use of It
Coconut milk is nutritious, but it is also high in calories. Remember this when adding it to foods or using it in recipes.
Suggestions for Including It in Your Diet
- Add a few tablespoons (30–60 mL) to your coffee.
- Half a cup (120 mL) can be added to a smoothie or protein shake.
- A small amount can be poured over berries or sliced papaya.
- Add a few tablespoons (30–60 mL) to cooked oatmeal or cereal.
How to Choose the Finest Coconut Milk
Here are some pointers for choosing the best coconut milk:
- Examine the label: Choose a product that contains only coconut and water whenever possible.
- Select BPA-free cans: Coconut milk from companies that use BPA-free cans, such as Native Forest and Natural Value, should be purchased.
- Make use of cartons: Unsweetened coconut milk in cartons is typically lower in fat and calories than canned options.
- Choose light canned coconut milk for a lower-calorie option. It’s thinner and has 125 calories per 1/2 cup (120 ml).
- Create your own: Make your own fresh, healthy coconut milk by blending 1.5–2 cups (355–470 ml) unsweetened shredded coconut with 4 cups hot water, then straining through a cheesecloth.
Coconut milk is versatile and can be used in a variety of recipes. It is generally preferable to buy canned coconut milk or make your own at home.
Coconut milk is a popular, tasty, nutritious, and versatile food. It is also simple to make at home.
It contains essential nutrients such as manganese and copper. Including moderate amounts in your diet may improve your heart health and provide additional benefits.
Try using coconut milk today to get a taste of this tasty milk substitute.
Also Read: Health Benefits of White / Ash Gourd Juice