What is coconut milk?
Coconut milk is one of the many products of the coconut tree. But unlike the coconut water, which comes naturally out of green, immature coconut fruit, the milk has to undergo a process before you can even enjoy it. The white, solid flesh from a brown mature coconut fruit has to be grated then press to extract the juice. The white, creamy juice it produces is what known to be the coconut milk.
Coconut milk is a famous ingredient among the cuisine of Thai and other Southeast Asia countries. But it is also popular in other the parts of Asia like India. Some parts in the western world are also fond of the milk such as Hawaii as well as some of the South American and Caribbean area.
How to Select the Best Coconut Milk?
When choosing the best coconut milk, you may look at the following tips:
- The Label is the Key – Read the label of your chosen product and make sure that the contents only include coconut and water.
- Select BPA-free Containers – BPA is a harmful chemical that lingers in food containers such as cans. Thus, choose canned coco milk which containers are BPA-free.
- Used Carton-Packed – Coco milk in cartons are better than canned. It is usually unsweetened and has fewer calories and lesser fats.
- Choose Light – Light canned coconut milk has a lower calorie content.
- Homemade Coco Milk – Making your own coco milk would be the best option if you don’t trust products advertised in the market. It is fresher and healthier, given that you don’t need to add anything aside from hot water. To make your own, grate the white coconut flesh. Mix 1.5 to 2 cups of into 4 cups of hot water, then strain it using a strainer or cheesecloth.
Coconut Milk Nutritional Facts
The nutritional value of coconut milk will depend on the product that you buy or make at home. But bear in mind that coco milk is high in calories. Ninety-three percent of its calorie content comes from fat, including the medium-chain triglyceride (MCTs) which is saturated fat. The high-fat content is due to being unmixed of the coco milk. Meaning, it has not been mixed with other constituents.
A cup of the milk unsweetened will provide you with up to 560 calories. That is almost equal to:
- Fat – 58 grams
- Saturated fat – 51 grams
But literally speaking, an entire cup of coco milk is somehow impossible to consume. You may only use a tablespoon to add for your coffee or use as a sweet treat. If that is the case, you may only consume for about 35 calories. That is equal to or less than 4 grams of fat.
Aside from calories, coco milk is a great source of other nutrients such as on the list below. An entire cup will have the following contents:
- Vitamin C – 11% of the RDI
- Copper – 32% of the RDI
- Magnesium – 22% of the RDI
- Folate – 10% of the RDI
- Potassium – 18% of the RDI
- Iron – 22% of the RDI
- Fiber – 5 grams
- Carbs – 13 grams
- Protein – 5 grams
A unique kind of protein is also believed to be included in its nutritional facts. However, further research is needed to support this claim.
Health Benefits of Coconut Milk
Packed with many nutritional values, coco milk is no wonder linked to many health benefits as well. Some of them are:
Good Metabolism and Weight Loss
The MCT fats are evidently effective in losing weight and promoting metabolism. In fact, once MCT is consumed, it is not stored as fats but goes directly to the liver and used for energy. In addition, studies propose that MCT is responsible for increasing the feeling of fullness and decreasing the appetite for calorie at the same time. Compared this to other fats which have the opposite effects on appetite. Nevertheless, studies show that MCT contents of coconut milk, especially the small amount, does not affect the body weight. Thus, further studies are needed.
Healthy Heart and Cholesterol Level
There are little studies made about coco milk, but the evidence that individuals with normal or high cholesterol level can benefit from it exists. In the studies made, LDL or “bad” cholesterol increases with coco milk intake. However, HDL or “good” cholesterol significantly increases together with it. In fact, compared with other plant-based milk like soy milk, cocoa milk has a higher impact on HDL cholesterol.
Fight Viruses and Bacteria
Because of the lauric acid content, coco milk has the ability to decrease, if not eliminate, the level of bacteria and virus that may cause infection. This is based on a test-tube study. The bacteria residing in your mouth are also included in this coco milk property.
Reduce Stomach Ulcer Size
In one study, rats with ulcer are used to examine the effect of coco milk against ulcer. Significantly, their ulcer is reduced for about 54% after being supplied with coco milk. The percentage is much high compare with anti-ulcer drugs.
Rats and mice are also used for this experiment. Researchers report that the swelling and inflammation from a rat and mice injury decreases after being provided with coconut oil and coconut extract. The study suggests that cocoa milk could bring the same effect to the body.
What are the Possible Side Effects of Using Coconut Milk?
Complications will only arise if you are allergic to coconuts. But compare with peanut and tree nut allergies, coconut allergies existence is very rare.
The digestive disorder, on the other hand, does exist. Thus, experts advise having half a cup of coco milk if you have a FODMAP intolerance.
Additionally, canned coco milk is now popular in the market. Health care providers are warning consumers about the possible existence of bisphenol A (BPA) in the container of the said products. BPA is a harmful chemical that can affect the reproductive system. Furthermore, it is linked to cancer problems based on some studies both on animals and humans.
To avoid BPA, experts suggest looking for BPA-free packaging if you choose packed coco milk.