I grew up drinking cow’s milk every day. There was always a gallon or two in the refrigerator and we drank it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and with snacks. My parents and I never associated my perennial allergies with it; after all, I had been tested for allergies and milk never came up. My dad used a low-fat powdered milk (which I thought was gross), but the thought of other types of milk never occurred to me (other than my trip to Egypt at age 16 where I was presented with buffalo milk, but that’s another story). It was not until recently that I started using full-fat coconut milk instead of cow’s milk. What are the advantages of using coconut milk over cow’s milk? Here’s a list of 5 advantages of coconut milk, plus some recipes.
What is Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk is the liquid that comes from the grated meat of a mature coconut. The decadent taste makes you think it should be bad for you, but it’s actually a very healthy food.
What’s the difference between coconut milk and coconut water? (Coconut water is the liquid that pours out when you crack open an immature coconut.) Coconut water is higher in sugar and certain electrolytes, while the milk is higher in healthy saturated fatty acids (from coconut oil) and calories. (1)
It’s very popular in Thai and other southeast Asian cuisines.
One cup of full-fat coconut milk has 552 calories, 8 grams of sugar, and 57.2 grams total fat. If you want fewer calories and fat, opt for low-fat coconut milk.
Many people think of coconut as a super food. Here are 5 great advantages of coconut milk.
Coconut milk is a great choice for those who want to stay dairy free. It has no whey or casein protein and no lactose. Learn more about the problems with dairy products here.
Coconut isn’t a nut! Botanically, it’s a drupe, which is a stone fruit like a peach. This makes it ideal for those allergic to nut-based milk, as well as for vegetarians and vegans. Coconut allergies are relatively rare.
Coconuts are very nutritious. They are rich in fiber, as well as vitamins B1, B3, B5, and B6, C, and E. The minerals in one cup of coconut milk include calcium (38.4 mg), iron (15.6 mg), magnesium (88.8 mg), phosphorus (240 mg), potassium ((631 mg), selenium (14.9 mcg), and sodium (36 mg).
The medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) fatty acids found in coconut milk increase energy and result in greater loss of fat (adipose tissue) compared with long-chain fatty acids (4).
Coconut milk is high in saturated fat (50.7 g per cup), which for many years has been demonized. According to Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., F.A.C.N., approximately 50% of the fatty acids in coconut fat are lauric acid. Lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid, which has the additional beneficial function of being formed into monolaurin in the human or animal body. (2)
Lauric acid has antibacterial and antiviral properties. According to many studies, lauric acid is a protective type of fatty acid linked with improved cholesterol levels and heart health. (3)
Coconut milk does not have cholesterol like animal products, but rather it aids in the formation of healthy cholesterol in the body.
Coconut milk provides nourishment to the digestive lining because of its electrolytes and healthy fats, which improve gut health and prevent conditions like IBS. Drinking coconut milk instead of cow’s milk can help decrease diarrhea, abdominal pain, gas, and bloating from lactose.
Choosing Your Coconut Milk
Be sure to look for cans that are BPA-free or choose coconut milk in a carton. Choose a brand that contains only coconut and water; avoid extraneous ingredients like carrageenan. Below is a recipe to make your own coconut milk.
Recipes Using Coconut Milk
Super Duper Restoring Smoothie
Chia Seed Coconut Milk Pudding
Coconut Milk Kefir
Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon
Learn more in my new book, Be in Health: Bible-Based Health Restoration: Living in Harmony with God’s Ways Regarding Health. Available now.