There is a famous saying that the consumption of coconut milk and its other product is beneficial for health and can help our body from infections caused by disease-causing microorganisms.
Coconut milk has tremendous and extraordinary health benefits. It is easy to prepare it at home. You can also buy a packaged product.
What is Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk is the liquid part that comes from the grated white flesh of a mature coconut. It is rich in oil content mostly saturated fat, which gives opaque look and rich taste to it.
It can be an alternative to cow’s milk in the case of people with lactose intolerance.
Coconut milk is popular in countries of Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Caribbean, and northern South America
In Spanish, coconut means Cocos nucifera. Spanish explorers named “ cocos” – meaning ‘grinning face’, because of the three little eyes on the base which they thought resembled a monkey. It belongs to the Palm family (Arecaceae).
Types of Coconut Milk.
Coconut milk is of two types: thick or thin, based on consistency and how much it’s processed.
Thick Coconut Milk Uses:
Coconut flesh (the white part) is finely grated and soaked in hot water. The mixture is then strained through a cheesecloth.
In this way, thick coconut milk is produced.
Uses of Thick coconut milk:
Traditionally, thick coconut milk is used in cuisines like desserts, pastes for curry, and rich sauces.
Thin Coconut Milk Uses:
After the thick coconut milk is prepared, the finely grated coconut which was left out in the cheesecloth is soaked again in hot water. The straining process is again repeated for the production of thin milk.
Uses of thin coconut milk.:
Thin milk is used in curries, soups, and thin sauces. Canned products of coconut milk contain a combination of thin and thick milk.
Nutrients in Coconut Milk.
Coconut milk is composed of 93% of calories which is comprised of saturated fats. It is also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).
Coconut milk is enriched in vitamins and minerals. It is composed of several vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6.
It also has minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. Coconut milk is also rich in fiber and unique protein.
One cup of coconut milk contains:
Vitamins and Minerals:
|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|
A 100ml of canned coconut milk contains:
|Fats||16.9g (14.6g saturated fat)|
8 Health Benefits of Coconut Milk.
Coconuts milk is comprised of a significant amount of fat which are mostly medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs).
Among them, lauric acid is one of them. Lauric acid is again converted into a compound known as monolaurin.
Monolaurin is an antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial compound that destroys a wide variety of pathogenic microorganisms.
Medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs) are easily metabolized in the liver. It is very rapidly metabolized.
Unlike other saturated fats, MCFAs are readily utilized by our body and hence there are very fewer chances of them being stored in the body.
Effects on Cholesterol and Heart.
Because of the fact that coconut milk contains a high amount of saturated fat, there is always confusion that whether it’s good or bad for health. Very few researches are made in this direction.
According to some of them, it can be useful for individuals with normal and increased cholesterol levels.
In the study of 8 weeks including a total of 60 people found to have coconut milk porridge lowered the level of bad cholesterol i.e. LDL greater than soy milk porridge. The study also demonstrates that coconut milk porridge has increased the good cholesterol i.e, HDL by 18%, when it was compared with soy milk porridge, which had only a 3% increase.
Similarly, in many studies, it was shown that coconut milk, oil, or flakes had improvement in LDL cholesterol, even in HDL cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels.
However, some of the studies have demonstrated that LDL cholesterol was increased with respect to coconut fat, HDL was also increased. Triglycerides were found to be decreased as compared to other fats.
Lauric acid is the main constituent of fatty acid in coconut fat.
It may show the increase in LDL cholesterol by lowering the activity of LDL receptors in the blood.
In two studies, results from a similar population were taken. The result shows the response of cholesterol to lauric acid was different in different individuals. The response depends on the amount of the diet taken by an individual on a daily basis.
In this study, healthy women were taken. They replaced 14% of monounsaturated fats with lauric acid. This also increases LDL cholesterol by approximately 16%.
In this study, the subjects replaced 4% of monounsaturated fat with lauric acid and had a very minimal effect on cholesterol.
These are some of the researches which suggest that coconut milk will be effective in keeping your heart healthy.
Many animal studies demonstrate that coconut milk extract and coconut oil are beneficial to reduce the swelling and inflammation in injured animals.
This study had involved animals like rats and mice. Depending on those studies we can suggest that coconut milk will be beneficial.
Healing of ulcer.
One study has demonstrated that coconut milk is helpful in reducing the size of peptic ulcers in rats by 54%. The study also demonstrated a remarkable decrease in the size of the ulcer and hence it was fairly comparable to other anti-ulcer drug effects.
Fight against infection.
The Medium-chain fatty acids or triglycerides (MCTs) found in coconut and coconut milk, especially lauric acid, have proved to fight against the infections caused by bacteria and viruses.
The study also demonstrated in weak patients who have deranged immune status, bacteria residing in the mouth causes infection, lauric acid is also fighting against it.
“Coconut Milk has proven to fight against Infection.”
Effects of Coconut milk on Belly fat and Metabolism.
The Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) found in coconut milk helpful in losing belly fat, reducing appetite, and for a faster metabolism.
The main ingredient for MCTs fat in coconut milk is lauric acid.
Coconuts are also comprised of a minimal amount of other medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs). They are capric acid and caprylic acid.
Unlike longer-chain fatty acids, MCTs directly enter through the digestive tract into the liver.
In the liver, MCTs are utilized as the source of energy and ketone bodies formation. So, they are not used as storage of fats and are utilized almost all instantly. (source)
There are many studies that suggest that MCTs is helpful in reducing appetite and decreasing calories, as it is compared with other fats
In one study, 20g of MCTs were consumed by overweight men in their breakfast and others ate breakfast made with corn oil. 272 of them had fewer calories at lunch than men consuming corn oil.
Another study has demonstrated that MCTs in coconut milk can increase calories expenditure and helps in the burning of fat reserves in the body.
There are many more studies like that. You can easily search on the world wide web.
A Control study was done on obese individuals and people with heart disease. The study showed that consuming coconut oil helps to reduce body weight and belly fat. The study also showed that the markers of the heart were improved in people with heart disease.
After studying those researcher papers and reading about some real-life scenarios. We can safely suggest the role of coconut milk in decreasing body weight and belly fat.
Blood Sugar Levels.
The fat in coconut milk will help slow the rate of sugar release into the bloodstream. This will help you to control insulin and blood sugar levels. Thus it prevents diabetes. So consuming coconut milk is a good idea rather than dairy products. Research has suggested that the MCTs in coconut milk are a better source of energy for the body than sugar.
“Coconut Milk helps in controlling Blood Sugar levels.”
Does not Cause Lactose Intolerance.
Coconut milk is lactose-free. Cow’s milk contains lactose. So, it can be used as a milk substitute by those with lactose intolerance. It is a popular choice for vegans and makes a great base for smoothies, milkshakes, or as a dairy alternative in baking.
Coconut milk is being confused between good or food products because of the lower fat quality and therefore can be used in reduced servings like 1-2 times per week. Moreover, The British Heart Foundation has recommended that saturated fats in coconut milk should be swapped with unsaturated oil while cooking.
“Coconut Milk is better than Cow’s Milk.”
Helps you Sleep.
Coconut milk can help you sleep. Add a pinch of Turmeric powder. Add Honey to the preparation. This will help you fall asleep quickly. Furthermore, the added honey will sweeten up the milk and will also give a better taste.
There are some people who do not like the taste of the Coconut Milk. But at the same time also wants to have the benefits of it. Honey can help you in this case.
“Take Coconut Milk with Turmeric powder and Honey and fall asleep quickly.”
3 Side Effects of using Coconut Milk.
Like almost everything Coconut Milk also has some demerits. Let us take a close look at some of the side effects
- If you have an allergy to coconut products, the coconut milk among them is unlikely to elicit side effects. Coconut product allergy is very rare as compared with peanut allergies and any tree nut allergies.
- However, in the case of people having a digestive problem like a FODMAP intolerance, can have a limited amount of coconut milk to one and a half-cup portion at once.
- The canned products are known to have bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical compound that comes out through can linings and leaks into the food. BPA is known to cause a problem with fertility, reproductive disorders. It is also carcinogenic and can cause cancer slowly over many years of consumption of canned food products.
This potential is shown in several studies done on animal and human studies.
But, you don’t have to be sad there is good News. Now a day, many canned products are having BPA-free packaging, which we recommended you to choose for the consumption of canned coconut milk.
Recipe: Preparation of Homemade Coconut Milk.
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Homemade coconut milk from shredded coconut is the easiest and inexpensive healthier alternative to cooking oil.
Instruction For Homemeade Coconut Milk
Always heat the water while cooking, but avoid boiling.
The shredded coconut is made in a blender (Automatic or manual). Then the hot water is added. If the amount is larger than the space of the blender, then it should be done in different batches.
A blending of coconut flesh is done on high frequency and many times until the coconut becomes pasty inconsistency.
A clean mesh strainer or cheesecloth can be prepared to separate the coconut residue and coconut milk.
If water is separated into batches, all shredded coconut is put into blender once again, the remaining water is added and the whole process is repeated.
The freshly prepared homemade coconut milk is to be consumed immediately. If you want to store, it can be refrigerated in 2-8 degree Celsius. The duration of storage can be stored up to 3-4 days.
After storing, a top coating may separate on the top of coconut milk. No need to worry about it. It can be used after shaking or stirring before consuming it.
Many Flavors can be added to coconut milk. The respective favors or essence can be added after the strained coconut is separated out from coconut milk. The flavors that can be added are ½ tsp vanilla essence; frozen pineapple or strawberries; or 2 tsp cocoa powder + ½ tsp vanilla essence.
Choose or Buy with Precautions.
- Coconut milk is prone to get rotten very quickly and easily. So, precautions to be taken care off for storage and usage of coconut milk.
- Coconut milk should be easily utilized on the same day.
- The canned products of coconut can be stored at room temperature. It can be stored for a long time. The expiry date, manufacturing date should be checked. If the date is exceeding the expiry dates, consumption is avoided. The canned food is thrown out.
- Any damage, dents or leakage or improper labeling in the canned food products should be avoided.
- Once the canned product is opened, then we should transfer the contents to clean container and refrigerate at 2-8 degree Celsius and it should be used within 2-3 days.
- If the canned product is not stored under a proper condition or if someone forgets to keep in the refrigerator, at room temperature the coconut milk easily convert to rancid.
How to select the best Coconut Milk.
Read the label on cans:
Whenever if you are buying any canned coconut milk it should be checked at least once for proper labeling. It cannot be confused with other coconut products like- coconut paste, coconut shrimps, coconut water, etc.
Use only BPA-free packaging cans:
While choosing the canned products, always purchase coconut milk which is in BPA-free cans. It should be mentioned in your cans. Many brands are available in the market which are BPA-free – Native Forest and Natural Value.
Use Unsweetened coconut milk:
It is available in cartons. It has less few of fats and calories than canned products. Avoid taking products without carrageenan. It can be available in brands such as So Delicious and Silk.
Are you in diet? Then there are products available as a lower-calorie option. You can select light canned coconut milk. They are have a thin consistency and contains approximately 125 calories in half cup (120 grams) .
The fresh homemade coconut milk is the healthiest among all the options of coconut milk. It has an easy and simple recipe. It can be made by using shredded coconut.
How to Use Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk is highly nutritious and having lots of health benefit but it can be used in minimal quantity as it is rich in calories. This should be kept in mind when you are adding coconut milk in your food.
Some healthy tips for adding Coconut milk to your diet
• One to two tablespoons of coconut milk, add it in your coffee.
• Half of cup coconut milk, add it in smoothie or protein shake.
• A little amount of coconut milk, sprinkle it over any fruit items –banana, berries or papaya.
• One to three tablespoons of coconut milk, add it to oatmeal or other cooked cereals.
Add Coconut Milk to varieties of food products:
• Coconut chutney or paste
• Easy Coconut Shrimp Curry.
• Cereal coconut mix
• Chicken masala gravy.
• Spinach and Chickpeas along with Lemon.
• Indian Green Smoothie.
• Chocolate Mousse.
Coconut milk is a healthier, tasty, nutritious option for food and diet. It is available in the market in different forms and is found worldwide.
A homemade recipe is also available which is very easy, quick and healthier option. It should be added in a moderate amount in food and daily diet for better health.
Coconut milk before going to sleep will make you fall asleep faster and will also provide health benefits.