It seems that lately, a different kind of milk is popping up every day and trying to replace cow milk as the undisputed king of dairy. Today’s challenger is one that has been pretty popular lately; the velvety coconut milk. It is not only delicious but also comes packed with nutrients and brings with it a number of health benefits.
Join us as we take a closer look at the delectable coconut milk.
1. What Is Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk is extracted from the white flesh of ripe brown coconut fruits. It is often used in Southeast Asian, Indian, Hawaiian, South American, and Caribbean cuisines due to its rich flavour, silky texture, and fine consistency.
A lot of people confuse coconut milk with coconut water, but they are actually 2 very different things. Coconut water comes from unripe green coconuts while coconut milk is derived from mature brown ones.
Coconut milk is also not naturally occurring, since it is made by mixing coconut flesh with water in a ratio of 1:1. This makes coconut milk about 50% water, while coconut water is closer to 94% water, which explains why coconut milk is much thicker. Coconut water also contains fewer nutrients and fats compared to your standard coconut milk.
2. Types Of Coconut Milk
There are 2 types of coconut milk, differentiated by their consistency and processing method:
- Thick: used for making thick sauces and desserts in traditional cuisine. It is made by grating coconut flesh and then boiling them in water. This mixture will then be strained using a mixture to create thick coconut milk.
- Thin: used for making thick sauces and soup in traditional cuisine. Can be made by taking the leftover grated coconut in your cheesecloth (after making the thick milk) and then simmering them in water, before finally straining again.
Canned coconut milk usually contains a mixture of both thick and thin milk. Alternatively, you can use the process described above to create your own coconut milk at home. This allows you to adjust the consistency according to your preferences.
3. What Are The Benefits Of Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk is a very healthy dairy alternative that contains a lot of benefits for your body:
1. Aids Weight Loss
More studies are required to definitively connect coconut milk to weight loss, but the MCTs contained in them have been proven to help in this department. MCTs (medium chain fatty acids) make up 12 % of coconut oil, mainly in the form of caprylic acid and capric acid.
Unlike long chain fatty acids, MCTs are unlikely to be stored by your body as fats since they are sent directly to the liver for energy production. MCTs have also been shown to reduce eating appetite and reduce calorie intake.
Furthermore, they temporarily enhance calorie and fat combustion which makes them perfect to consume before exercising. This is why scientists are confident that coconut milk can significantly aid your goal of losing weight.
2. Balances Cholesterol Level
Coconut milk is said to improve your cholesterol levels by reducing the bad “LDL” and increasing the good “HDL” amounts in your body. Further extensive studies are required, however, since some researchers actually found the opposite to be true.
3. Fight Bacterias And Viruses
Lauric acid, which makes up 50% of coconut milk, has been shown to reduce the level of virus and bacteria in your body. This lowers your overall risk of infection and falling ill.
4. Decreases Inflammation
Researchers have found that coconut milk reduces swelling and inflammation in rats. Further research is required to see if these effects are replicated in humans.
4. Does Consuming Coconut Milk Carry Any Side Effects?
Some people do have allergies to coconuts, but these cases are very rare. If you are not one of these people, then it is highly unlikely that consuming coconut milk will harm your body
5. How To Add Coconut Milk To Your Diet
Here are some ideas you can follow to incorporate coconut milk into your daily diet:
- Add it to your smoothie or milkshake
- Pour a couple of tablespoons into your daily espresso or any other Robusta / Arabica coffee
- Add a small amount and consume with fruits like papaya and berries
- Pour a few tablespoons into your morning cereal
6. How To Select The Right Coconut Milk
To ensure you maximise the health benefits of coconut milk, follow these guidelines when choosing your coconut milk:
- Read the label; make sure it contains only coconut and water
- Buy BPA – free products
- Go for thin coconut milk as it has lower calories
- Choose unsweetened carton coconut milk as they have lower fat and calorie content
- For the best fresh coconut milk, make some yourself at home