Coconut milk is a satiating and high-fat drink, it helps to increase the sense of satiety and the health of our cardiovascular system.
Among the numerous drinks on the market we find coconut milk, a plant-based alternative to cow’s milk, with a characteristic coconut flavor. This drink is now widely used and used either as it is, as a substitute for milk, or in the kitchen, for the preparation of dishes with an ethnic flavor.
Coconut milk is a white and thick drink that is obtained by crushing the pulp of the fruit of the coconut palm (Cocus nucifera), a tropical plant belonging to the Arecaceae family.
It is a food completely free of milk and lactose and therefore suitable for those suffering from allergy to milk proteins or lactose intolerance . Furthermore, it does not contain gluten or cholesterol.
There are two different alternatives on the market : a more diluted drink and a more concentrated one. The former is mainly used as a milk substitute while the concentrated version, with a denser consistency and a greater amount of fat, is mostly used in Asian-flavored recipes.
In many Eastern countries, in fact, coconut milk is used as one of the main dietary sources of fat, but scientific evidence shows that the benefits associated with its consumption go far beyond, as we will present in one of the next paragraphs.
Coconut milk: calories and nutritional properties
As we have anticipated, on the market you could find two coconut milk alternatives, one of which involves diluting the drink with water. In this paragraph we will introduce you to the properties of undiluted coconut milk. It is a food that has a fair amount of fats (about 23 g), completely of vegetable origin, and a very low amount of proteins and carbohydrates.
Most of these fats are saturated fats and about half of the share is represented by lauric acid, which deserves some specifics. Lauric acid, in fact, belongs to the group of “medium-chain saturated fats” and has antiseptic properties and, from a cardiovascular point of view, it seems to be able to increase the amount of “good” cholesterol, as we will discuss later.
From a caloric point of view, among all vegetable drinks, it is the most energetic precisely because of the quantity of fat (100 grams of coconut milk provide about 240 calories). As for minerals and vitamins, coconut milk contains a fair amount of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and manganese. We present below the nutritional values of coconut milk summarized in the table, remembering that they may vary according to the dilution of the product with water.
Nutritional values per 100g of coconut milk:
- kcal: 240
- Proteins: 2.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 3.3 g
- Fibers: 2.2 g
- Fat: 23.8 g
- Sodium: 15 mg
- Potassium: 263 mg
- Phosphorus: 100 mg
- Soccer: 16 mg
- Magnesium: 37 mg
- Zinc: 0.67 mg
- Manganese: 0.92 mg
- Vitamin: B3 0.76 mg
- Biotin: 2.2 µg
- Vitamin E: 0.15 mg
Coconut milk: the health benefits
In the previous paragraph we have already anticipated some of the benefits of coconut milk, due in part to the fatty acids it contains. In short, coconut milk is good for the heart, reducing cholesterol, is useful in case of diabetes and has an antioxidant effect, but not only. Let’s now explore all the properties reported in the literature and confirmed by scientific studies.
✓ Benefits in case of diabetes
The use of coconut-based products, including coconut milk, has led to an improvement in the value of blood sugar, insulin and glycated hemoglobin. Furthermore, it has been found that the use of coconut milk also improves the values of the lipid profile (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides), which can be compromised in the case of diabetes.
✓ Anthelmintic effect
We have already anticipated that coconut milk is known to have antiseptic properties. Some studies have shown the ability of coconut milk to counteract the survival and proliferation of parasites, a property that has been known and recognized for some time.
✓ Benefits on the lipid profile
The daily consumption of coconut milk (used, for example, for the preparation of porridge) was correlated to an improvement in the lipid profile and in particular to a statistically significant decrease in “bad” LDL cholesterol and vice versa an increase in the cholesterol value “Good” HDL.
✓ Antioxidant activity
The use of coconut milk, rich in phenolic compounds, has shown antioxidant and protective activity against cellular proteins and DNA itself. It also has an anti-inflammatory action.
✓ Useful for awakening the metabolism
Coconut milk, as well as other products derived from this fruit, contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs) that have been shown to promote weight loss and stimulate metabolism. Unlike longer-chain saturated fats, MCTs pass from the digestive tract directly to the liver, where they are used for energy or ketones and are less likely to be stored as fat. In addition, MCTs can help reduce appetite. Therefore, using coconut milk in the right quantities and in the context of a healthy diet and regular physical activity can be an extra help to regain fitness.
Coconut milk: how to make it at home with fresh coconut or coconut flour
In addition to buying it, you can make coconut milk at home by following a few simple steps. To prepare coconut milk at home, you can start with fresh or dried coconut pulp; the second procedure is faster and simpler. Let’s see them both.
1. Recipe with fresh coconut
Let’s first see how to proceed for homemade coconut milk starting from the coconut. In this case, one of the most difficult steps is to open the coconut.
For this recipe you will need two parts of water and one part of coconut pulp: if we want to prepare 1 L of coconut milk we suggest you use about 300 g of pulp and 600-700 ml of water.
- First you need to open the coconut, remove the water inside and extract the white pulp, which will then be grated;
- Then the pulp will be weighed and blended with two parts of hot but not boiling water;
- It is then left to rest for about thirty minutes and the milk is filtered with a sieve and a clean, tightly woven cloth, pressing the pulp well to let all the liquid come out.
The coconut milk obtained can be kept in a glass bottle in the refrigerator for a maximum of three days. The lipid and aqueous part will tend to separate, so before use it is necessary to shake.
2. Recipe with coconut flour
The simplest recipe is the one with coconut flour, which you can easily find in most supermarkets, generally in the department dedicated to the preparation of sweets. In this case the procedure is very similar to the one just described, but it will not be necessary to open the coconut.
Once again, two parts of water and one part of coconut flour will be needed (if you don’t have flour, coconut rapé is fine too, in the same quantities). For the quantities, we can use the same as the recipe indicated above, so 300 g of dehydrated coconut and 600-700 ml of water for 1 liter of drink. The procedure is then analogous:
- Cover the coconut flour with hot but not boiling water;
- Blend with an immersion blender and let it rest for thirty minutes;
- Filter with a cloth squeezing the flour well in order to recover all the liquid part and transfer to a glass bottle.
Again, keep the coconut milk in the refrigerator and consume it within three days. Shake well before use.
What does coconut milk taste like?
The taste of coconut milk is unmistakable: it releases all the aromas of the fruit from which it derives . Precisely for this reason it is not a popular ingredient for those who do not like the taste of coconut. We can therefore deduce that the taste of coconut milk is sweet and fruity, able to give freshness to one’s recipes and transport us to an exotic country.
How much coconut milk can you drink per day?
As we have seen, coconut milk contains an important percentage of fat and has a rather high caloric intake. Therefore it is advisable not to exceed with the daily consumption of coconut milk : the exact amount depends on your nutritional needs and your energy needs, but in general we can suggest you alternate this drink with other vegetable drinks or with cow’s milk. Furthermore, the quantities also vary according to the dilution of the chosen beverage. Generally speaking, in the case of diluted or homemade coconut milk, you can also drink a cup a day.
Coconut milk: some tips for using it
Coconut milk can be used in many preparations and there are in fact many recipes with coconut milk for both sweet and savory foods and dishes with an ethnic flavor. In the kitchen it is preferable to use the thicker and undiluted coconut milk, which we can easily find in ethnic food stores.
For the preparation of our dishes we must always take into account the typical taste of coconut milk : this drink can in fact replace cow’s milk in recipes, but we must be prepared for a sweeter and more fruity taste; for example it is often used for the preparation of “vegan” bechamel, the taste of which however is not comparable to that of the classic version.
Coconut milk can be used in the preparation of soups, for example taking a cue from Thai cuisine. The basic ingredient of these soups can be both chicken and fish and coconut milk can be used to make the dish more creamy and satiating. Also from Thai cuisine, we can mention the green curry, a very aromatic dish based on rice, meat and coconut milk.
This drink can also be used to enrich fruit and vegetable extracts or to prepare delicious smoothies. Another example of a recipe that uses coconut milk is porridge: in this case, coconut milk replaces some or all of cow’s milk or another vegetable drink. To prepare it, simply choose the cereal that best suits you and cook it in coconut milk for a few minutes. Completed with berries and / or dried fruit it can be considered an excellent breakfast.
Coconut milk for breakfast: benefits and some tips for using it
Coconut milk is a drink that is perfectly suited to an Italian breakfast, which generally involves the use of foods or preparations with a sweet taste. We can use it to replace cow’s milk , in order to avoid any intestinal disorders that are increasingly frequent in relation to the consumption of milk derivatives. Obviously, where you have no problems in consuming lactose and dairy products, it is not necessary to provide this substitution, except for personal taste.
Coconut milk for breakfast can be drunk plain (cold or heated) or added to coffee or barley. It also goes well with cinnamon or soluble cocoa. It can also be used for the preparation of smoothies with seasonal fruit and oil seeds or for the preparation of the aforementioned porridge, using sugar-free cereals and dried fruit or dried fruit creams.
The presence of fats in coconut milk can also be useful to increase the satiety time of our breakfast and avoid feeling very hungry 1 or 2 hours after the end of the breakfast itself.
Use of coconut milk in DIY cosmetics
Thanks to its dense consistency and emollient action, coconut milk is also widely used in DIY cosmetics.
For example, by adding a tablespoon of olive oil to three tablespoons of coconut milk you get a preparation that can be used as a cleansing milk: just pour a small amount on a sponge or a cotton swab to pass over the face and eyes like a normal makeup remover. If you have dry skin, leave the coconut milk on your face for about ten minutes before rinsing.
Coconut milk is also used as a pre-shampoo pack for hair: mix a tablespoon of coconut oil with three tablespoons of coconut milk and apply the mixture to damp hair. Leave on for thirty minutes and proceed with the shampoo to remove all residues.
To make an exfoliating face and body scrub, add one tablespoon of coconut flour to two tablespoons of coconut milk. Massage the scrub into damp skin with circular movements and rinse with warm water.
Coconut milk: the possible contraindications
There are no particular contraindications to coconut milk, which however cannot be consumed in case of allergy to the fruit. Furthermore, anyone who is following a low-calorie diet must pay attention to the consumption of this drink: we therefore recommend that you ask your specialist for advice.
In all other cases, green light for coconut milk (always in moderation). It can be consumed both in the case of a vegetarian and vegan diet and is well suited to the most common nutritional regimes, such as that for diabetics or, as we have seen, for dyslipidemias (excess cholesterol and / or triglycerides in the blood).
Does drinking coconut milk make you fat?
We have seen above how coconut milk, if taken in moderate quantities, can help to awaken the metabolism, however, given the amount of fat it contains, it is plausible to ask whether drinking coconut milk makes you fat. As always, the answer is not unique because it depends on our nutritional needs.
Coconut milk, among the vegetable drinks, is the one with the most calories: drinking too much coconut milk, therefore, makes you fat (especially if we are talking about undiluted coconut milk). Or rather, it can contribute to weight gain, along with other bad habits. If taken in the correct quantities, however, it can also be helpful in a weight loss diet, as long as it is combined with physical activity and a balanced diet.
Coconut milk: where to buy and which one to choose
We have therefore seen together that drinking coconut milk is good for health. We now suggest where to buy this drink where you do not want to prepare it at home, but want to have coconut milk immediately available to drink for breakfast.
Currently it can be found in most supermarkets, especially in the diluted version. This food is generally stored in tetrapack packages and is present on the shelves along with all the other vegetable drinks that have established themselves as substitutes for cow’s milk. In some cases, coconut milk is found mixed with other vegetable drinks, frequently with rice milk.
In the ethnic departments of supermarkets or organic shops you can find the concentrated version of coconut milk. Very often the packages are not in tetrapack, but in aluminum or glass.
If you intend to use it instead of cow’s milk it may be advisable to choose the diluted version , while for recipes it is more useful to buy concentrated coconut milk . Finally, we advise you to prefer organic drinks.