Grown in abundance in South East Asia, coconuts are well known for their delicious taste and numerous health benefits. Coconut milk, one of the by-products, is known to be one of the healthiest foods on earth and the wide range of health benefits of coconut milk make it quite popular.
Dustin Hoffman, the famous American actor and director, once said, “The two basic items to sustain life are sunshine and coconut milk.” And he wasn’t wrong. Keep reading to understand how the humble coconut milk can benefit you.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Coconut Milk
- Is Coconut Milk Good For You
- Coconut Milk Nutrition Facts
- What Are Coconut Milk Health Benefits
- What About The Benefits Of Coconut Milk For The Skin
- Is Coconut Milk Good For Your Hair
- How To Make Coconut Milk At Home
- How To Use Coconut Milk
- Any Healthy Coconut Milk Recipes
- How To Select And Store
- Which Kind of Coconut Milk Is Best To Buy
- Does Coconut Milk Have Any Side Effects
- Final Thoughts
What Is Coconut Milk?
Some people do not understand the difference between coconut water, coconut cream, and coconut milk.
Coconut water is the milky water that comes out when you break open a fresh coconut.
Since this article is all about coconut milk, let’s talk about it. Coconut milk is not exactly “milk” in the conventional sense. It is the thick liquid that you get when you blend coconut meat with water and then strain it.
One of the best ways to obtain coconut milk is to buy older, mature coconuts. As coconuts age, the water in them gets replaced by the meat, and this gives better coconut milk.
Let’s now find out if coconut milk is as good as it is touted to be.
Is Coconut Milk Good For You?
Don’t let the common notion that “coconuts are bad for you since they contain a lot of fat” blind you.
Coconut milk, when consumed in moderation, can be very healthy for your overall health and beauty.
Coconut milk finds its uses in a variety of recipes and skin and hair treatments. It is used as the main base ingredient in almost every dish in South East Asia. If you have Thai food regularly, you know what I am talking about.
Coconut milk is used in cooking not only because of its taste but also because of the wide range of nutrients it contains.
Let’s now give you a rundown of coconut milk’s nutrient profile.
Coconut Milk Nutrition Facts
The bad news? Coconut milk is rich in fat, mostly saturated fat.
The good news? It is delicious, has almost no cholesterol, and contains a plethora of other healthy nutrients that make up for it.
Check out the nutritional profile of coconut milk below.
|Saturated fat||21.1 g||106%|
|Monounsaturated fat||1.0 g|
|Polyunsaturated fat||0.3 g|
|Dietary fiber||2.2 g||9%|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0%|
|Vitamin C||2.8 mg||5%|
The trace elements present in coconut milk are responsible for the regulation of electrolytes, nerve control, muscle relaxation, and the production of energy in the body.
Let’s now talk about the benefits of this wonder milk.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk helps in maintaining a healthy heart, aids digestion, and strengthens the immune and nervous systems. Keep reading for more details about its benefits.
1. Keeps The Heart Healthy
Did you ever imagine that consuming something rich in fat can help promote a healthy heart?
Well, expect the unexpected from coconut milk. This mighty fruit contains a rich amount of lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that has been proved to have a positive effect on serum lipid and cholesterol levels in men and women (1).
A study was conducted on 60 healthy people for 8 weeks. For 5 days a week, they were fed coconut milk porridge, and their cholesterol levels were tested. The researchers found that the “bad cholesterol” (LDL) levels of the participants considerably decreased and “good cholesterol” (HDL) levels increased. The study concluded that coconut milk is not fatal for our lipid profiles. In fact, it is very healthy for our heart (2).
2. Aids Weight Loss
Coconuts contain medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that are known to burn fat and induce satiety, which eventually prevents overeating. This quality of coconuts helps in long-term weight loss.
A study was done in 2003 to prove the same point – 24 overweight individuals were given diets rich in MCT and long-chain fatty acids (LCT) for 4 weeks. Their body composition was tested at the end of the time frame. It was noticed that consuming MCTs resulted in decreased levels of adipose tissue as compared to LCTs.
The study further stated that MCTs could be considered as agents that help in the prevention of obesity (3).
3. Boosts The Immune System
Coconut milk contains a good amount of vitamin C, a nutrient that helps to boost our immunity.
Hence, regular consumption of coconut milk can help ward off infections and fight cold and cough.
4. Improves Digestion and Relieves Constipation
Feeling constipated? Having trouble with digestion? Coconut milk can help.
This milk contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals, which provide the necessary electrolytes and good fats that help move the food along the intestinal tract and leave the body at regular intervals.
5. Strengthens The Bones
Coconut milk provides a good amount of calcium and phosphorus – nutrients that help to maintain healthy and strong bones.
There are no research articles to prove this claim, but many people all over the world testify that drinking coconut milk on a regular basis gives them stronger bones and lowers their risk of arthritis, osteoporosis, joint inflammation, and fractures.
6. Controls Diabetes
The virgin coconut oil that is prepared from coconut milk affects the blood glucose levels positively. It contains antioxidant properties that improve the insulin secretion in the body (4).
Another paper researched in Thailand talked about the benefits of coconut oil for diabetes. It suggested that virgin coconut oil increases the efficiency of cellular response to insulin, reduces blood sugar levels, stimulates metabolism, and decreases the glycemic index of food, thereby controlling diabetes (5).
7. Prevents Alzheimer’s Disease
We already know that coconut milk contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).
These MCTs are easily absorbed by the liver and get converted to ketones.
Ketones are identified as an alternative source of energy for the brain and are known to be highly beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease or are still in its initial phases (6).
8. Helps Prevent Anemia
Anemia, one of the most common diseases caused due to nutrient deficiencies, is a lack of iron in the body.
This can be overcome by drinking a glass of coconut milk regularly. It is said to provide our bodies with almost one-fourth of our daily recommended dose of iron per day. It is also useful for preventing fatigue related to anemia.
9. Has Antibacterial, Antiviral, And Antifungal Properties
Several studies have been conducted on coconut and its various forms to test their abilities on inflammation and microbes.
Virgin coconut oil, the pure form of oil extracted from coconut milk, is rich in MCTs and lauric acid. Due to this, virgin coconut oil has excellent anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties (7).
Another study performed in Chiang Mai, Thailand, investigated the pharmacological effects of virgin coconut oil. The results suggested that the oil possessed anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic properties (8).
10. Ensures Proper Blood Circulation
Coconut milk is known to provide elasticity and flexibility to your skin and blood vessels. It contains a good amount of copper and vitamin C, both of which are claimed to provide rigidity and elasticity to the collagen fibers (9).
This property of coconut milk ensures a proper flow of blood in the blood vessels and minimalizes fluctuations in blood pressure.
11. Calms The Nerve Cells
Keep calm and drink coconut milk. Yes,
you read that right. A glass of coconut milk contains about 89 mg of magnesium, a nutrient that is known to calm the nerves and ease muscle cramps and tension, leaving you feeling relaxed (10).
12. Prevents Ulcers
If you are suffering from stomach ulcers, drinking coconut milk can help in significantly reducing and preventing ulcers altogether.
Coconut milk contains anti-ulcer and antibacterial properties that fight the bacteria causing the ulcers.
Drinking a glass of coconut milk at least once a week can give positive results in no time.
A study was carried out in Chennai, India, to test the efficacy of a polyherbal cream, containing coconut milk as one of its main ingredients, on diabetic patients with foot ulcers.
The study suggested that due to the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of coconut milk and some other ingredients, this cream was highly effective in healing the ulcers (11).
13. Promotes The Health Of Prostate Glands
Coconut milk is a great source of a lot of vitamins and minerals. Among those nutrients is zinc, an element that helps to maintain the health of the prostate gland and reduce the risk of prostate cancer (12).
The prostate gland already contains a high amount of zinc in its soft tissues, but drinking coconut milk regularly makes sure that the zinc levels in the body are replenished.
These were the health benefits of coconut milk, and now…
What About The Benefits Of Coconut Milk For Skin?
Coconut milk is extremely healthy for the skin as well. It imparts a nourishing glow to the skin on regular use and also treats several skin conditions.
14. Moisturizes The Skin
People have been indulging in milk baths for centuries. Whether it is for infants or brides, it is a commonly known fact that milk moisturizes our skin and makes it soft and supple.
Maybe it is time to switch to coconut milk now. Applying coconut milk to your skin does more than just moisturizing it. Coconut milk combats dryness, itchiness, swelling, and redness, soothes the skin, and promotes a healthy, glowing skin.
Add 1 cup of coconut milk, ½ cup of rose water, and 1 cup of rose petals to warm water and bathe with it. Do this often, and you will be amazed by the results.
15. Treats Sunburns
Applying coconut milk on sunburns can effectively heal the skin in no time due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
The fats in this milk reduce pain, redness, and swelling on the skin. You can apply a thin layer of coconut milk on the affected area at night before you go to bed and rinse it in the morning for best results.
16. Prevents Premature Aging
Want to feel and look young? Use coconut milk!
This milk is packed with vitamin C and copper, which help to maintain the elasticity and flexibility of the skin while improving its appearance and health.
Make a paste of a few drops of coconut milk mixed with 6-7 peeled almonds and apply this as a face mask for about 15 minutes. Wash it off with cold water. Doing this 2-3 times a week will improve your skin health and reduce the signs of aging significantly.
17. Treats Skin Ailments
Using coconut milk on the skin can help reduce and prevent acne.
The antimicrobial properties of the milk prevent breakouts, and its fats prevent the skin pores from clogging.
18. Is A Good Makeup Remover
Why use expensive makeup removers on your skin when you can use something so healthy and natural?
Mix 2 measures of olive oil and 1 measure of coconut milk and gently rub on your skin with a cotton ball. This will not only remove your makeup but also deeply nourish your skin.
19. Exfoliates Your Skin
Coconut milk is one of the best and most natural ways to exfoliate your skin.
can make a paste of oatmeal powder with coconut milk and use it on your face as a scrub one to two times a week to achieve the best results.
Now that we learnt about the benefits of coconut milk for the skin, here is the next obvious question…
Are There Any Benefits For The Hair?
Of course, there are! Coconut milk can be used regularly on the hair to give shiny and smooth tresses. It also provides the following benefits:
20. Promotes Hair Growth
Coconut milk contains a wide range of essential nutrients that nourish the hair follicles and boost hair growth.
All you need to do is massage coconut milk into your hair and leave it on for about 20 to 30 minutes before shampooing as usual.
21. Restores Dry, Damaged Hair
Just like how coconut milk provides moisture and nourishment to the skin, it works similarly on the hair too.
Coconut milk, when used regularly on dry and damaged hair, helps to restore its shine. It also helps to soothe and treat itchiness and dandruff on the scalp.
Place unsweetened coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight to harden it a little. In the morning, apply the milk from roots of the hair to the tips, section by section. Leave it on for about 20 to 30 minutes and shampoo as you normally would.
Try this treatment once or twice a week, and you will start noticing a change in a month’s time.
22. Is A Hair Detangler And Natural Conditioner
Coconut milk acts as a brilliant hair conditioner to provide softer, thicker, and longer hair. Not only that, it also helps to detangle your hair.
Just apply a little milk to your hair and comb out the tangles in a jiffy. You can also use it as a leave-in conditioner to add volume to your hair.
Now that you have read about all the amazing benefits of coconut, you must be curious to know how you can make this milk at home.
How To Make Coconut Milk At Home?
Making this delicious milk takes just about 10 minutes. It is an inexpensive and healthier substitute for regular milk. The process is as described below.
You Will Need
- 4 cups of water
- 1 ½ to 2 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut
- Heat the water, but make sure it does not boil.
- Blend the coconut in a blender.
- Add water and blend again for a few minutes until the mixture is thick and creamy.
- Strain the mixture through a mesh to obtain the liquid. If needed, you can squeeze the remaining pulp through a muslin cloth or a thin towel to get the remaining liquid.
- The collected liquid is the coconut milk.
- Drink immediately or store it in the refrigerator for a while.
Let’s now understand how you can use this milk.
How To Use Coconut Milk
There are plenty of creative ways you can use coconut milk in your daily cooking and beauty regimens. Here are a few suggestions:
- You can use coconut milk as an alternative to regular milk in your breakfast porridge.
- Toss your cooked pasta or spaghetti in a little coconut milk to make the dish saucier and tastier.
- You can use coconut milk or coconut cream in certain puddings to make them creamier.
- Use coconut milk in soups to add a rich nutty flavor and a dash of healthy fat to it.
- Use it as part of your beauty routine on your body and face to nourish your skin and make it glow.
- Use coconut milk on your hair to boost hair health and prevent grays, hair fall, and dandruff.
- Drink coconut milk as it is.
Want to know some innovative ways to use this milk in your cooking? Here are some of our favorite recipes, just for you.
What Are Some Healthy Coconut Milk Recipes?
1. Coconut Shrimp Curry
You Will Need
For The Marinade
- ½ kg large shrimp (peeled and deveined)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
For The Sauce
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tablespoon ginger (minced)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 410 grams diced tomatoes
- 385 ml coconut milk
- Fresh cilantro for garnishing
- In a bowl, mix the shrimp with all the marinade ingredients. Cover the bowl and leave it in the refrigerator.
- Heat the oil in a pan.
- Add the onions to the oil and sauté for a few minutes till they are translucent. Add the ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, coriander powder, turmeric, and curry powder. Cook for a minute or two.
- Add the tomatoes (with the juice) and the coconut milk. Stir well and bring this to a boil.
- Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the marinated shrimp (with its juices) to this mixture. Cook for a few minutes till the shrimp is cooked well.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with rice.
2. Coconut Milk Chocolate Mousse
You Will Need
- 2 cans full-fat coconut milk
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 4 tablespoons sweetener (maple syrup, coconut nectar or honey)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- A pinch of salt
- 100 grams dark chocolate
- Pour the coconut milk into a bowl and whisk it well.
- Add the cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla extract and whisk while adding the sweetener.
- Whisk this mixture for a few minutes until it starts to thicken.
- Once you get the desired consistency (thick but pourable), pour it into your serving glasses or dish and leave it in the refrigerator to set.
- After a few hours, top it with chocolate shavings and serve.
It’s important for you to know how to select and store coconut milk so that your recipes come out well.
How To Select and Store
When buying coconut milk from the store, there are a few things you need to look out for:
- Avoid Cans: Try not to buy coconut milk that is sold in cans since they are known to contain BPA, a carcinogen.
- Avoid Added Sugars: Always buy unsweetened coconut milk that does not have added flavors or sweeteners.
- Avoid Carrageenan: This is a common additive in some varieties of plant milk that can be cancerous and cause digestion troubles.
- Choose Organic: Always buy organic coconut milk.
The best way is to make your own coconut milk. If you follow the method in the article, you’ll have fresh and healthy coconut milk ready in a few minutes.
How do you store coconut milk, whether it is homemade or store-bought?
First things first – make sure you use the homemade one more often instead of relying on the store-bought one. Make enough quantity that you will entirely use up at one go.
If you absolutely need to store coconut milk, we recommend that you pour it in a glass jar, cover it tightly and refrigerate it until you use it again. Shake the jar thoroughly before your next use.
You can also freeze a large portion of the milk. This way, it will stay fresher longer.
All good things do come with their share of side effects. Let’s find out if coconut milk has any.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Coconut Milk?
There can be harmful effects when you consume coconut milk in excess quantities. Some of its side effects are:
1. High Blood Pressure
It can cause high blood pressure. Since coconut milk is high in fats, it can elevate the cholesterol levels in the body, which can lead to cardiovascular problems and high blood pressure. A cup of coconut milk contains about 55 to 60 grams of fat, most of which is saturated.
It may lead to allergies. If you are allergic tree nuts, experts suggest that you avoid drinking coconut milk since it may lead to a life-threatening situation.
3. Weight Gain
Coconut milk is high in fat, so if you are following a restricted diet and trying to lose weight, it may not be for you.
Drinking large amounts of coconut milk every day may cause digestion troubles and constipation.
Now that you know how amazing coconut milk is and why we can’t stop talking about it, don’t wait any longer. Go to the store today and buy yourself a coconut.
We know that using coconut milk has its ups and downs, but if the ups overshadow the downs, it is definitely worth a try, right?
Comment on the post below and let us know about your experience in making coconut milk and how you used it in your cooking.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Can I substitute coconut milk for cow’s milk?
Of course, you can. Coconut milk is a great alternative, especially if you are lactose intolerant.
Why does coconut milk separate?
When coconut milk becomes very cold, its protein and fats may separate from the liquid. You can heat it up a little or whisk it thoroughly in a bowl.
Coconut milk is high in saturated fat. Is it bad for me?
No, it isn’t. Coconut milk has vegetable fat, not animal fat. This means that it melts at room temperature and goes through your system without clogging your arteries.
Can pregnant women drink coconut milk?
Yes, they can! Coconut milk can be very healthy for the development of the fetus due to the wide variety of nutrients it offers. However, it has to be consumed in moderation.
- “Consumption of a solid fat rich in lauric acid results in a more favourable serum lipid profile….”. Wageningen University. Feb 2001.
- “Impact of a traditional dietary supplement with coconut milk and soya milk on the lipid profile in normal free-living subjects”. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. Oct 2013.
- “Medium-chain triglycerides increase energy expenditure and decrease adiposity in overweight men”. McGill University. March 2003.
- “Anti-diabetic and Antioxidant effects of virgin coconut oil…”. Journal of Diabetes Mellitus. 2013.
- “Health and economic benefits of coconut oil production…”. Narong Chomchalow, Thailand. Jan 2011.
- “The role of dietary coconut for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease…”. The British Journal of Nutrition. July 2015.
- “Antistress and antioxidant effects of virgin coconut oil in vivo”. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine. Jan 2015.
- “Anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil”. Payap University. Chiang Mai, Thailand. Feb 2010.
- “Copper nutrition in camelids”. Penn State Extension. Aug 2017.
- “Tension headaches and muscle tension: is there a role for magnesium?”. Medical Hypotheses. Dec 2001.
- “A pilot study on the effects of a polyherbal formulation cream on diabetic foot ulcers”. Indian Journal of Medical Research. Aug 2011.
- “Zinc and prostatic cancer”. Oregon State University. Nov 2009.
- How To Use Coconut Milk For Hair Growth?
- Benefits Of Coconut For Hair
- 30 Best Benefits and Uses Of Coconut For Skin, Hair and Health
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