Coconut Milk: Uses, Benefits, and Risks

Coconut milk is a popular beverage made from the meat of mature coconuts. It is high in saturated fat but has many health benefits and uses.


Is coconut milk healthy for you, or is this non-dairy milk substitute simply another source of saturated fat, which we’ve been told to avoid for years? What is the nutritional truth about coconut milk?

Coconut milk has a creamy texture and a little natural sweetness that makes it seem like it should be terrible for you, but it isn’t. In fact, in certain cultures, coconut milk is regarded as a “wonder drink.” Why? Because coconut milk has the potential to strengthen the body’s immune system and prevent illness, it’s a good source of nutrients.

While the calories in coconut milk are greater than those in other milk replacements, it is one of the most acceptable sources of medium-chain fatty acids, along with its nearby cousin’s coconut oil and coconut water. These fats are simple to digest, beneficial to brain health, and so much more. Continue reading to discover more about the health benefits of coconut milk.

What Is Coconut Milk?

Coconut milk isn’t dairy “milk” in the sense that most people conceive of it. Instead, it’s a liquid found naturally within mature coconuts (Cocos nucifera), which are members of the Palm family (Arecaceae). Coconut cream, another name for full-fat coconut milk, is kept in the coconut’s white, firm “meat.” To make a smoother, more homogeneous coconut milk, coconut cream, and coconut water are sometimes mixed.

Nutritional Values of Coconut Milk

If there’s one healthy thing you should put in your shopping cart or force yourself to try in the kitchen, make it coconut milk. Coconut milk nutrition includes a healthy fat called lauric acid and gives nutrients and a delicious flavor. Lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid that the body may readily absorb and use for energy.

Although the fatty acids in coconuts are primarily saturated fats, I don’t believe they’ll increase your cholesterol or harm your heart. Instead, they’re renowned for doing the exact opposite. As a result, coconut milk nutrition may aid in lowering cholesterol, improving blood pressure, and preventing heart attacks and strokes.

Because genuine, full-fat coconut milk is rich in calories, a smaller portion is recommended than regular milk or coconut water. It’s ideal to use around 1/4–1/2 cup at a time, either as part of a recipe (for example, “coconut whipped cream”) or on its own with other tastes (such as in a smoothie).

A cup of raw coconut milk nutrition (about 240 grams) contains about:

  • Calorie Count: 552
  • Carbs: 13.33 grams
  • Protein: 5.5 grams
  • Fat content: 57.2 grams
  • Fiber: 5.3 grams
  • Manganese: 2.2 milligrams (110 percent DV)
  • Copper: 0.6 milligrams (32 percent DV)
  • Phosphorus: 240 milligrams (24 percent DV)
  • Iron content: 3.9 milligrams (22 percent DV)
  • Magnesium: 88.8 milligrams (22 percent DV)
  • Selenium: 14.9 micrograms (21 percent DV)
  • Potassium: 631 milligrams (18 percent DV)
  • Vitamin C: 6.7 milligrams (11 percent DV)
  • Zinc: 1.6 milligrams (11 percent DV)
  • Folate: 38.4 micrograms (10 percent DV)
  • Niacin: 1.8 milligrams (9 percent DV)

Vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamine, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, choline, and calcium are also included in coconut milk nutrition.

Health Advantages

1. Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol

Despite its high-fat content, why is coconut beneficial for your health? One of the most significant sources of lauric acid is coconuts. Lauric acid makes up around half of the fat in coconuts. Antibacterial and antiviral properties are seen in this kind of fat. Recent research suggests that lauric acid is a protective kind of fatty acid that hasn’t been related to harmful changes in cholesterol levels and may even benefit heart health.

For example, researchers discovered that when 60 healthy volunteers were fed coconut milk porridge five days a week for eight weeks, their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels dropped, but their “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels increased substantially. “Coconut fat in the form of coconut milk has no adverse impact on the lipid profile in the general population and is advantageous owing to the reduction in LDL cholesterol and increase in HDL cholesterol,” they found.

Coconut milk is beneficial for reducing blood pressure and maintaining blood vessels flexible, elastic, and free of plaque accumulation because coconuts contain minerals essential for circulation and regulating blood flow. Magnesium, for example, may assist with anxiety, stress, and muscular tension. It also improves circulation and relaxes muscles. All of these factors are crucial in avoiding heart attacks.

2. Helps you gain muscle and lose fat

Is it possible to gain weight by drinking coconut milk? MCT fatty acids present in coconut milk nutrition have boosted energy expenditure and even improved athletic performance. In addition, muscles need a lot of nutrients after exercise, including electrolytes like magnesium and potassium, which may be found in coconut milk nutrition, to repair damaged tissue and grow back even more vital.

Coconut milk is rich in healthy fats, so it fills you up and keeps you from nibbling or overeating during the day. They will thwart your attempts to modify your body composition. That said, any meal or drink, including healthy ones, may be consumed in excess. If you eat more calories than you need regularly, you may acquire weight.

3. Maintains electrolyte balance 

Is coconut milk healthy if you’ve been ill recently? Although coconut water contains more electrolytes, coconut milk also contains essential minerals such as potassium and magnesium, which are required to maintain blood volume, regulate heart health, and prevent dehydration and diarrhea. In addition, electrolytes assist avoid fatigue, heat strokes, heart issues, muscular aches or cramps, and poor immunity, especially in sweltering conditions, after activity, or after being ill.

Coconut milk also includes MCTs that are readily utilized by your brain for energy, as opposed to other fats, which must be digested via your digestive system with bile acids. Coconut milk calories offer a fast and efficient energy supply for the brain, making it an excellent “brain food.” The brain is mainly composed of fat, and it requires a constant supply of it to operate correctly.

4. Assists in weight loss

Is coconut beneficial to weight loss? According to research conducted by McGill University’s School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition:

Compared to long-chain fatty acids, eating a diet high in MCTs resulted in more significant fat loss (adipose tissue), perhaps due to increased energy expenditure and fat oxidation. Therefore, MCTs may be used as weight-loss assistance or as a possible weight-loss stimulant.

Coconut milk, which is rich in MCTs, may be a highly satisfying and fat-burning meal. A “balanced diet” includes fats. They give you a sense of being pleased and full. This may aid in the prevention of overeating, snacking, food cravings, and weight gain.

Of course, given the high-calorie content of coconut milk, portion management is essential. Still, as part of a balanced diet, it offers essential fatty acids and other minerals to reduce weight and cleanse. In addition, coconut milk is highly hydrating. It aids the normal functioning of digestive organs such as the liver and kidneys—this aids in the breakdown of fat and the elimination of waste from the body.

5. Helps with digestion and constipation

Constipation may be prevented or treated with a well-hydrated digestive system. Is coconut milk safe to drink if you’re allergic to most other milk? Coconut milk is dairy-free and has a lower risk of causing indigestion than regular milk, which may induce lactose intolerance. Thanks to its electrolytes and good fats, it also feeds the intestinal lining, boosting gut health and avoiding diseases like IBS.

6. Controls diabetes and manages blood sugar

Coconut milk’s fat content can help slow the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream. This results in improved insulin regulation and the prevention of a “sugar high” or, worse, diabetes. This is one of the reasons why coconut milk is delicious in sweetened recipes, such as desserts. MCTs in coconut milk are also a better source of energy for the body than sugar.

7. Assists in the prevention of anemia

Although the iron level of coconut milk isn’t as high as that of meals like grass-fed beef or organ meats, it still offers a decent supply of plant-based iron that may help avoid anemia. Everyone, meat-eaters, and vegetarians alike, can prevent iron deficiency anemia by eating various iron-rich foods (such as legumes, lentils, quinoa, spinach, nuts and seeds, vegetables, and coconut products).

8. Prevents Arthritis and Joint Inflammation

According to research, MCTs found in coconut milk offer anti-aging properties and may help reduce inflammation. Inflammation is linked to painful diseases such as arthritis and general aches and pains in the joints and muscles. Because sugar is pro-inflammatory and related to poor immunity, increased pain, and swelling, coconut milk instead of refined sugar is particularly beneficial for arthritis (or other autoimmune diseases).

9. Helps to prevent ulcers

Another advantage of coconut milk nutrition that may surprise you is its anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers discovered that coconut milk is much more effective than coconut water in preventing ulcers. When rats with ulcers were given coconut milk, the size of the lesions was reduced by approximately 56 percent. According to the research, coconut milk was shown to have preventive benefits on ulcerated stomach mucous, which may lead to painful ulcers.

Traditional Medical Applications

Coconuts have been cultivated in abundance for millennia in Malaysia, Polynesia, and the tropical coastlines of southern Asia. As a result, coconuts now flourish along every subtropical coast on the planet.

Historians think that around 2,000 years ago, Arab merchants brought coconuts from India to East Africa. The coconut was given its name by Spanish explorers, who called it after the Greek word cocos, which means “grinding face.” According to accounts, they believed the coconut’s “eyes” on the base made it seem like a monkey. Coconut shells were thought to have magical healing powers by Europeans in the sixteenth century, and the fruit was used for both decoration and cooking.

Coconuts, despite their name, are fruits classified as one-seeded drupes. Coconut palm trees are the “tree of life” in certain cultures because they may survive for hundreds of years. In Sanskrit, the coconut palm is known as Kalpa vriksha, which means “tree that provides everything required for life.” Coconuts are prized in Ayurvedic medicine because virtually every component of the coconut fruit, including the water, milk, meat, sugar, and oil, may be utilized in some manner. Coconut milk is an easy and tasty way to get calories and fat. Curries, marinades, and sweets all include it.

Coconut meat and milk are essential components in South India, Southeast Asia, and East Africa’s islands, including Zanzibar and Tanzania, utilized in bread and meat stews. In addition, the grate coconut flesh is one of the earliest skills handed down from mother to daughter in certain African societies. Natural skin care products may also be made using coconut milk and oil.

Almond Milk vs. Coconut Milk vs. Coconut Water

  • What’s the difference between coconut milk and coconut water? Natural coconut water is the milky white liquid that comes out when you split open a fresh coconut. Coconut water is often obtained from young, green coconuts.
  • The outcome of blending coconut flesh and then straining it is a thicker coconut “milk.” More of the water within a coconut is replaced by coconut flesh as it develops. This is why mature coconuts tend to produce more coconut milk, whereas younger coconuts (about five-seven months) generate more coconut water.
  • Full-fat coconut milk includes all of the fatty acids found in the coconut, while “light” coconut milk has had part of the fat removed. As a result, the milk becomes thinner and has fewer calories.
  • Coconut water has more sugar and certain electrolytes, particularly potassium, while coconut milk contains more calories and beneficial saturated fatty acids (from coconut oil). Therefore, coconut water is regarded as a natural sports drink alternative and an excellent beverage for athletes due to its high potassium content.

Coconut milk is an excellent choice for anybody sensitive to dairy, lactose, soy, nuts, or grains since it is dairy, lactose, soy, nut, or grain-free. It’s also vegan and suitable for vegetarians. Almond milk, similarly plant-based and dairy-free, is an excellent coconut milk alternative if you like the flavor.

  • Some (but not all) of the advantages of whole almonds may be found in good-quality almond milk. If you create your almond milk by mixing and filtering almonds in water, you’ll end up with vitamin E, calcium, and polyunsaturated fats, for example.
  • Although almond milk has fewer calories than coconut milk, it also has fewer minerals and good fats (significantly less lauric acid).
  • Because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics, almond milk nutrition may be a beneficial therapeutic agent in treating allergies to cow’s milk.
  • It’s preferable to buy almond milk that is unsweetened and devoid of difficult-to-pronounce chemical ingredients, much like coconut milk.

Which Coconut Milk Should You Purchase?

It’s easy to produce coconut milk yourself, but if you want to purchase it already prepared, seek the purest coconut milk you can find. Always check the nutrition label on coconut milk to ensure you’re getting the most acceptable possible product. Look for organic coconut milk that hasn’t been pasteurized and has no added sugar or sweeteners, preservatives, or artificial sweeteners (potentially destroying some nutrients).

Is canned coconut milk harmful to your health? No, full-fat coconut milk is often offered in cans. Instead, purchase coconut milk that has been “cold pressured” (organic if feasible). This means it’s just been gently cooked and treated to kill germs, but it hasn’t been subjected to excessive heat, which depletes vitamins and minerals. In addition, any coconut milk (or water) that has been flavored with juices, sweeteners, colors, or other additives should be avoided. If you want to enhance the taste, you should add your own.

The main component should be 100 percent coconut milk, with a bit of coconut water thrown in for good measure. Guar gum, a natural substance used to maintain the texture, is also utilized by certain businesses. Make sure the milk is unsweetened on the label to prevent a sugar overload.

Finally, if you’re buying canned coconut milk, avoid cans that contain the chemical BPA. BPA is a chemical present in individual aluminum cans that, when ingested, can cause health issues (particularly in meals rich in acid or fat, such as coconut milk). Although the FDA still deems it safe, many nutrition experts disagree, citing research linking it to behavioral issues and other health problems. So instead, look for a label that says “BPA free” or “BPA free” on the can.

Best Way to Make Coconut Milk

Many individuals believe that canned or boxed coconut milk is inferior to handmade coconut milk. Fortunately, by buying fresh, young coconuts, you can create your full-fat coconut milk at home. This also guarantees that there are no artificial chemicals or preservatives in your coconut milk.

Is it healthy to eat raw coconut? Yes, absolutely. Fresh, mature coconuts may be found in the refrigerated area of health food shops, or you can use coconut flesh that has already been taken from the shell. Look for coconuts or coconut flesh that is still fresh. Also, make sure it hasn’t been opened or vacuum-sealed in the last three to five days. The longer the coconut milk lasts, the newer the coconut is.

Here’s how to produce coconut milk in a nutshell:

  1. First, search for fresh coconuts and shake them vigorously to ensure that some liquid flows around. This indicates that they are new.
  2. To break open a coconut, you’ll need a strong cleaver, but you may also use whatever heavy knife or hammer you have on hand.
  3. Hit the top of the coconut with the cleaver until you hear a crack. The coconut water may then be strained and saved for smoothies and other pleasant beverages. Two-three coconut chunks remain, each with the white flesh/meat inside connected to the inedible shell. Remove the flesh with a paring knife or by repeatedly hitting the back of the coconut until the heart comes away from the body.
  4. Coconut flesh should be well rinsed and chopped into tiny pieces. Then, with approximately two cups of water, put the coconut flesh in a blender or food processor.
  5. To separate the coconut pulp/meat from the coconut milk, blend it into a thick liquid and strain it through a wire strainer or cheesecloth. Squeeze the coconut pulp with your hands to get as much coconut milk as possible.

That concludes our discussion. Keep in mind that you may use the remaining coconut flesh to create homemade coconut flour, coconut scrubs, dried coconut flakes, or add to smoothies after you’ve prepared coconut milk.

Facts and History

The coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) is grown in tropical areas, mainly in Asia, and originates from the “economic plant coconut palm tree.”

Coconut is a fruit with high-fat content and low sugar content, making it one of a kind. Coconuts are approximately 51 percent kernel (or flesh), 10% water, and 39 percent shell. Coconut milk is technically an oil-in-water emulsion stabilized by proteins present in the fruit. Stabilizers are often added to guarantee that coconut milk has a smooth texture and lasts longer.

Coconut milk has been eaten for thousands of years, according to historians, and is thought to have aided in the survival of tropical people. Coconut milk is still extensively consumed in Thailand, India, Hawaii, and other Asian nations. It’s well-known in the culinary world for giving curries a creamy texture and a rich flavor. Its applications, however, stretch well beyond soups and stews. Coconut milk is a versatile ingredient that works well in both sweet and savory dishes. That is one of the reasons why its popularity has soared in recent years in Western nations.

In general, plant-based milk sales have risen significantly, increasing by more than 60% between 2013 and 2017. Despite increasing competition from quinoa, rice, pecan, and cashew milk, almond milk (64 percent market dominance), soy milk (13 percent market share), and coconut milk (12 percent market share) remain “staples in the category.” Coconut cultivation, export, and processing have grown into a multibillion-dollar business that benefits nations such as the Philippines and Thailand, the world’s top producers.

Side Effects and Risks

Coconuts are minimal in allergens, particularly when compared to dairy, soy, and nuts. Therefore, many individuals who cannot handle other milk or creamers may benefit from coconut milk. However, it is essential to keep in mind how much you eat since it has a high calorie and fat content when it comes to coconut milk. While the fat is unquestionably beneficial, portion management is crucial, particularly if you’re trying to lose weight.

Some of the minerals contained in coconut milk may affect specific health problems. People with renal illness, for example, must be cautious about how much potassium they consume from their diet. On the other hand, coconut milk isn’t a rich source of potassium; thus, drinking it isn’t much of a danger.

Last Thoughts

  • Coconut milk is a high-fat beverage produced by mixing and filtering ripe coconut “meat.”
  • Coconut milk nutrition advantages include giving healthy fats and electrolytes, supporting heart health, aiding fat reduction and muscle growth, improving digestion, controlling blood sugar, supplying iron to help prevent anemia, decreasing inflammation, and combating ulcers.
  • Purchase full-fat coconut milk (commonly available in cans) or create your own by blending and filtering coconut flesh for the best results.
  • Look for organic, unsweetened coconut milk in BPA-free cans that are produced without preservatives or additives. It may be used in smoothies, oatmeal, curries, marinades, baked goods, and more, like almond milk or other non-dairy milk replacements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is coconut milk terrible for health?

A: Coconut milk is not bad for your health.

When should I drink coconut milk?

A: Coconut milk is an excellent source of calcium, but it should only be consumed in moderation. It’s best to drink coconut milk when you have a deficiency of calcium or if you’re an athlete training for a marathon.

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


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