Coconut Milk Health Benefits

Coconut Milk Health Benefits

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When we talk about the coconut milk health benefits, Milk is usually defined as lacteal secretion obtained from the female mammals for the nourishment of their young ones. It is considered as a basic necessity and complete diet but have you ever heard that you can get milk from plant sources?

Yes, it is possible to obtain milk from plant sources. Various plants like soy, oat, barley, wheat, maize, coconut, almond, etc, are utilized for obtaining milk. Plants’ parts are ground/crushed and undergoes different processes and thick/thin, creamy, white liquid similar to milk is obtained. Now let’s gradually review the topic of coconut milk health benefits.

What is Coconut?

It is commonly assumed that coconut is a fruit but Coconut is neither fruit nor seed. Technically coconut is a drupe. A drupe is defined as “a fruit having inner flesh and seeds and surrounded by a hard shell; like almonds, walnuts, pecans, coconut, etc.

Coconut Milk Health Benefits

What is Coconut Milk?

White milk obtained from the flesh of a fresh coconut is known as coconut milk.  Do not confuse coconut milk with coconut water.

Coconut MilkCoconut Water
Coconut milk is thick/thin creamy liquid obtained from the flesh of the coconut Coconut water is present naturally inside the fresh fruit
High in fatLow in fat
Coconut milk is high in calories (450 calories per cup)Coconut water is low in calories (45 calories per cup)
Coconut milk is sweet, delicious, creamy, often mixed with other beveragesCoconut water is a colourless liquid, having high water content. Usually used to hydrate the body as a source to quench the thirst

How to Make Coconut Milk at Home?

Coconut milk can be prepared at home in various ways. To obtain coconut milk select fully ripened, mature fruit. Mature fruit helps to get the maximum level of white liquid. After the selection of fruit, chopping/grating of fresh coconut is being done. There are two ways:

  1. Directly press the grated coconut manually and get thick, creamy liquid. It gives less amount of product at the end.
  2. Soak the grated coconut in hot water, thick cream rises at the top which will be skimmed off and then press it through cheesecloth. White milk filtered through the cloth. The residual material again washed with water and this process is repeated. Thin coconut milk will be obtained.

Nutritional value of Coconut Milk

The nutritional value of coconut milk depends upon the type of coconut milk. Freshly prepared raw coconut milk has a different nutritional value than canned coconut milk. Coconut milk is also packed with vitamin B1, B3, B5, and B6, vitamin C, E, and other minerals like iron, calcium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorous, and selenium to increase its nutritional value.

Coconut milk is usually high in saturated fats. The higher fat content makes it caloric rich food. Fats present in coconut milk contain medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). Lauric acid is one of the important components of these fatty acids. This component is converted into monolaurin in the body. Monolaurin acts as an antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal agent in the body. In this way, it can prevent the body from a variety of diseases.  

1 tablespoon (15 grams) of coconut milk can provide:

Sr. noContentAmount
1Calories30
2Fat3.2 g
3Carbohydrate0.4 g
4protein0.3 g
5sodium2 mg
6Sugar0 g
7fibre0 g

How to Consume Coconut Milk?

How to consume coconut milk?

Breakfast: coconut milk can be added in breakfast cereal as a replacement for dairy milk.

Milkshakes: It can be added in various shakes and smoothies to increase the nutritional content

Soups: It is best to substitute for cream in creamy soups and gravies.

Beverages: Coconut milk is an ingredient of various beverages specially pina colada. It is also available in the form of ready to drink beverages.

Thai Foods: It can also be used in various Thai food recipes as the sauce, gravity’s ingredient.

Is Coconut Milk Healthier Than Milk?

It is very difficult to decide whether coconut milk is healthier or cow milk. Each category of milk has its advantages and disadvantages for example lactose intolerant people (people unable to digest lactose (an ingredient naturally present in milk)) prefer plant-based milk rather than an animal. Similarly, people allergic to almond and peanut milk; prefer coconut, soy, or oat milk.

Coconut milk is higher in calories, fats especially saturated fat but low in proteins while cow milk is higher in protein than coconut milk.

The nutritional value of coconut milk also depends upon the type of coconut milk purchased from the market. Coconut milk contains fewer nutrients naturally, it is fortified with other vitamins and minerals to increase the variety of nutrients. Following is a comparison between cow milk and coconut milk.

MilkCaloriesSugarFat (Total)Proteins
Cow (whole) 1 cup15012 g8 g8 g
Cow (skim) 1 cup8312 g0 g8 g
Coconut milk 1 cup (unsweetened)450 g4 g0 g
Coconut Milk Health Benefits

Can I Drink Coconut Milk Every Day?

Coconut milk is a rich source of various nutrients but keeps in mind that it lacks certain nutrients like proteins, calcium, etc. to follow balanced diet plan guidelines on must take nutrients in balance quantity. If you are using coconut milk daily, you must get proteins from other sources. It is recommended that do not take coconut milk daily. Rather coconut milk added into daily diets in small doses in various cooking recipes like smoothies, soups, etc.

Similarly, normal milk contains higher calcium than coconut milk. Therefore, moderation is the key, one should be kept in mind.

Coconut Milk Health Benefits

Coconut milk has a variety of health benefits.

Helps in reducing caloric intake without getting deprive:

If one person wants to decrease weight, one should reduce 500 calories from the daily diet. Relacing normal milk with coconut milk helps to reduce calories without feeling deprived. Coconut milk is not typically used as a weight loss drink but replacing with high caloric milk helps to do so.

Source of energy

It is a fast source of energy. Medium-chain fatty acids present in the fat of coconut milk helps to provide energy as fast as carbohydrates.

Anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties

Lauric acid present in coconut milk has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that lauric acid inhibits the growth of Streptococcus pneumonia, Staphylococcus aureus,  and Mycobacterium tuberculosis in a petri dish.

Reduce the risk of cancer

Lauric acid also helps in apoptosis (cell death). Lauric acid stimulates the growth of certain cells that helps to reduce the growth of cancer cells.

Boost immune system

Some researchers believe that lauric acid boosts the immune system.

Helps in weight loss and metabolism

Fatty acids present in coconut milk are medium-chain i.e. caprylic acid and capric acid. Primarily carbohydrates in the food are used as a source of energy in the body. Proteins are used in muscle building and fats are stored in the body as a reserve. In the absence of carbohydrates, fat reserves serve as a source of energy. Unlike other fats, medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs) present in coconut milk, moves directly to the liver from the digestive tract. These MCTs are utilized as a source of energy in the liver. In this way, these MCTs are less likely to store as fat and helps to reduce/gain weight.

Research also suggests that these fatty acids help to reduce appetite. In this way, it is also a step towards less caloric intake.

Coconut Milk Health Benefits

Antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal agent

Lauric acid is one of the important components of these fatty acids. This component is converted into monolaurin in the body. Monolaurin acts as an antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal agent in the body. In this way, it can prevent the body from a variety of diseases. 

Anti-ageing property

Coconut milk is highly nutritious when consumed, and can also improve the condition of your skin and hair when used topically. The fatty acids in coconut milk are a natural antiseptic and may help treat dandruff, skin infections, wounds, and dry, itchy skin.

Additionally, the high fatty acid content in coconut milk works as a natural moisturizer for healthy skin and has shown to have anti-ageing benefits, too.

Lactose-Free alternative

Some people are lactose intolerant. They are unable to digest lactose naturally present in milk. It is very difficult to consume dairy products for lactose-intolerant people. Coconut milk is a good alternative for these people. It can be added in breakfast, cereals, milkshakes, and other beverages as an alternative to dairy milk. Keep in mind that coconut milk deprives proteins. In such cases, one should balance daily protein intake from other sources in a daily diet.

High in fibre

The common high fibre choices are usually centred around grains like wheat bran, oat bran, and psyllium husk. Coconut milk can be included here as it contains 2.2 grams of dietary fibre in a 100-gram serving. Soluble fibre can help promote healthy cholesterol levels, as well as combat heart disease. The other key thing is that the high fibre content helps promote feelings of fullness for longer, which can help in avoiding overeating.

Helps to control cholesterol

If you eat a lot of packaged or fast food, you can be pretty sure you are consuming some pretty awful trans fats. These types of fats are used in manufactured foods to give the “foods” an improved texture, firmness, and mouthfeel. They also increase shelf life, which is likely the main reason why these things went into the products in the first place. It’s like a deadly preservative.

People who switched to foods containing lauric acid, like found in coconut milk, showed favourable improvement in blood lipid profiles. It helps to increase HDLs (good cholesterol). It also reduces LDLs (bad cholesterol).

Free from saturated fat

If you’re concerned about the saturated fat issue, these are the types of short-chain fats that are digested differently in the body than the long-chain ones. The medium-chain fatty acids are absorbed and transported directly to the liver, where they are burned for energy. They are not stored as fat and can have a fat-burning effect, called thermogenesis.

Improve dry damaged hair

This is also one of the Coconut milk health benefits, because of its moisturizing properties, helps to improve itchy and dry scalp. Apply homemade coconut milk in hair, massage gently for five minutes, and wrap with a hot towel. This will not only moisturize dry hair but also improve breakage and split ends.

Precaution: It is not advisable to drink coconut milk on an empty stomach.it contains lauric acid. However, it is advised to take coconut water along with a few drops of lemon on an empty stomach.

Coconut Milk Health Benefits

Conclusion

Coconut milk obtained from the white flesh of coconut drupe through various processing techniques. it contains a higher amount of saturated fatty acids. It is fortified with various nutrients to increase its nutritional value. Lauric acid, present in coconut milk helps to fight against various diseases. Medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs) helps to control cholesterol. Coconut milk is a good alternative to lactose-intolerant people. It also deprives certain nutrients like protein and calcium. It helps in anti-ageing, skin development, and hair treatment. Excessive consumption may cause a deficiency of certain nutrients. Therefore one should balance nutrients from other dietary sources.

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