Coconut milk: Use, nutrition and health benefits

By Dr. Sachin Singh | 29th Nov 2021

Coconut milk: Use, nutrition and health benefits

Coconuts belong to the palm family (Arecaceae). Many people think coconuts are nuts, however, they are drupes with one seed. They are grown in abundance in various parts of Asia. This tree is known as kalpa vriksha, or ‘tree that offers all that is necessary for life,’ in Sanskrit because practically all of its components can be used. Even the husks and leaves are utilised to make furniture and decor. If a palm tree is fully flowered, it can produce between 60 to 180 coconuts in a single harvest, even though it takes one year for the coconuts to develop.

Coconut milk is not considered a dairy product because it is derived from a plant.

Coconut milk contains medium-chain triglycerides, which are good for your health (MCTs). MCTs have been shown to aid weight loss by reducing hunger and increasing energy. The grated pulp of mature coconuts is used to make it, an opaque, milky-white liquid. Saturated fat is the primary reason for its opacity and rich flavour.

The fat content of this milk is used to classify its many subtypes. Coconut cream (or thick milk) has the most fat, followed by coconut milk (or thin milk), which has a fat content of not more than 20 per cent, and coconut skims milk, which contains the least fat among the three.

How is coconut milk made?

It’s astonishing how many dairy products are manufactured. Hot water is used to grate and soak the white section of the coconut (the meat). Skimming the coconut cream off the top is a simple process. Cheesecloth is used to remove a white liquid that is milk from a coconut from the remaining liquid. Repeating this procedure results in thinner milk from a coconut. To make desserts and sauces, the thicker form is preferred. Curries and soups can be made using thin milk. 

Coconut milk nutrition

In addition to vitamins C, E, B1, B3, and B6, coconut meat is also rich in minerals such as iron, selenium, salt, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and fibre. Lactose-intolerant people can use this milk instead of cow’s milk because it contains no lactose. As a dairy substitute for smoothies, milkshakes, and baked goods, it is a popular choice for vegans.

Some people consider coconuts an “excellent” food, while others believe they should be avoided at all costs. Lower-fat varieties of this milk can be consumed in moderation (1-2 times per week). Saturated fats, such as coconut oil, are not recommended when cooking.

Coconut milk calories:

There are 169 calories in 100 ccs of canned milk obtained from coconut.

  • Saturated fat: 14.6 g (14.6g) in 16.9 g (11.1g) of fat
  • 3.3 grammes of sugar

Coconut milk calories available in cans:

  • Water 164.71 g
  • protein: 4.57 g
  •  fat: 48.21 g 
  • carbohydrates: 6.35 g 
  • calcium: 41 milligrammes a day (mg)
  • potassium: 497 mg 
  • magnesium: 104 mg
  • iron: 7.46 mg

The recommended daily consumption of vitamin C is 2.30 mg

Coconut milk calories of sweetened coconut drink:

  • Amount of water: 226.97 g 
  • protein: 0.50 g fat: 4.99 g 
  • carbohydrates: 7.01 g 
  • calcium; 451 mg 
  • potassium: 46 mg

This beverage is often enhanced with vitamins A, B, and D2.

Lauric acid, a medium-chain saturated fatty acid (MCFA), is found in large quantities in coconuts, however, unlike other nuts, coconuts give a significant quantity of fat in the form of lauric acid. An antiviral chemical known as monolaurin can be produced in the body by the conversion of lactic acid into monolaurin, an antifungal and antibacterial substance that possesses broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties. Foods like this milk and other items made from coconut may therefore help prevent infections and viruses.

The liver quickly converts MCFAs to energy. MCFAs are expected to be more quickly metabolised by the body and less likely to be stored as fat than other saturated fats. Coconut fats may not have the same negative impact on blood lipids and cardiovascular health.

Coconut milk benefits

It is high in calories and electrolytes, which might help with endurance and fatigue. They also aid in muscular development. The coconut milk uses are not limited to this;

Other coconut milk benefits include fat loss, Improvement in Cardiac health, in boosting the body’s defence.

1. Fat loss

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) found in milk obtained from coconut can help people lose weight. MCTs, promote thermogenesis or the generation of heat.

MCTs have been shown to help people lose weight and decrease their waistlines, according to certain research. It helps stabilise the microbiota in the digestive tract. Obesity may be linked to a lack of stability in one’s diet.

MCTs at breakfast lowered the amount of food consumed throughout the day.

MCTs, boost insulin sensitivity, which many experts feel aids in weight loss. Glucose is broken down and blood sugar levels are maintained by insulin, an essential hormone.

2. Improvement in Cardiac health

Saturated fat-rich diets have been related to an increased risk of heart disease and excessive cholesterol.

Because of its high-fat content, this milk may not be considered heart-healthy by some.

Saturated fats can have a variety of effects on the body, depending on their source. People’s genes also influence how they process saturated fats and how much of an impact they have on health.

“Bad cholesterol,” or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, was not significantly increased by coconut oil, but it was increased by “good cholesterol,” or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL).

In addition to protecting the heart, HDL cholesterol eliminates LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. It transports LDL cholesterol to the liver, where it is broken down and excreted by the body.

Coconut-based products are high in fat and calories, even though coconut oil may not raise LDL cholesterol levels. They should be consumed in moderation by everyone.

Because coconut oil has a higher fat content than its milk, it will have a smaller impact on cholesterol.

3. Boosts the body’s defences

Several studies have shown that lauric acid, a lipid found in coconuts, can aid the immune system.

Lauric acid may have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Researchers cultured numerous bacterial strains and exposed them to lauric acid in Petri dishes as part of a study on the antibacterial effects of coconut lauric acid.

Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumonia, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis were all suppressed by lauric acid. According to the research, this acid slows the growth of cancer cells by activating receptor proteins that control cell growth.

Coconut milk uses

Coconut milk may be used in a variety of ways and is a good substitute for regular milk. Coconut oil, like other coconut products, may provide health advantages. Moderate milk uses may help decrease cholesterol and aid in weight loss. 

Other coconut milk uses include: the preparation of beauty products, coconut-flavoured ice cream, skims of coconut used in soup preparations and many more.

1. Products for Beauty

Coconut milk can be used to make a variety of cosmetics at home. To nourish dry hair and stimulate development, prefer to make the following hair mask: Combine 2 tablespoons of milk and 1 teaspoon of honey in a mixing bowl. Apply to dry, unclean hair and leave on for an hour before rinsing, shampooing, and rinsing again. Repeat once a month.

2. Ice cream

To make fast ice cream, combine two overripe frozen bananas, 200 grammes frozen berries, and 120 mL milk in a food processor. You’ll have soft-serve ice cream to enjoy after dinner in less than a minute.

Also, enjoy this extremely simple coconut lover’s ice cream made using pantry goods.

In general, milk from coconut is considered an excellent dairy substitute whether you have a dietary sensitivity, need to organize a recipe, or simply want a change of pace. Most recipes that call for full-fat milk can be substituted with 6 per cent fat coconut milk. Just keep in mind that it will provide a coconut flavour to any food or baked goods!

3. Soups

When cooking a soup, such as this butternut squash and lentil soup, you can use coconut milk as one of the liquid ingredients.

Instead of using dairy cream, you can finish the soup with coconut cream or milk towards the end to give it more body. This tastes best in soups with broccoli, carrots, or winter squash, especially if you add a chopped stalk of lemongrass during the cooking phase.

Fresh or dried, coconut meat is a delicacy that may be enjoyed in many ways.

It is high in fibre and MCTs, which may enhance heart health, weight loss, and digestion, among other things. However, because of coconut milk’s calories and saturated fat content, it’s best consumed in little amounts.

Coconut in its unsweetened form is an excellent supplement to a well-balanced diet.

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