Because of their distinctive flavor and creamy texture coconut milk coffee, protein shakes and desserts can lend a beautiful touch. Although it is not popular in the US far as other vegetable milk alternatives, it retains a loyal following. But how nutritious is this drink? And it can produce tangible health benefits?
Coconuts are known for their high saturated fat content. For decades, this nutrient has been linked to the obesity epidemic and a variety of chronic diseases. However, in recent years there has been a sharp increase studies (opens in new tab) question and even contradict these findings.
If you’re feeling confused, don’t worry. In this article, we discuss the nutritional value and potential health benefits of coconut milk to help you decide if it’s the right plant-based alternative for you.
Coconut milk: nutritional information
|nutrient||Amount Per Serving (1 cup)||% Daily Value|
|Vitamin D||3.6 µg||18%|
|Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)||0 mg||0%|
|Cobalamin (Vitamin B12)||2.16 µg||90%|
Coconut milk in a can vs. coconut milk in a carton
There are two types of coconut milk – in cans and cartons. Although they are made of the same ingredient, they differ in terms of consistency, nutritional value, shelf life and culinary use.
Coconut milk in cans is a thick, white liquid that is obtained from the “meat” of the coconut. Since it is packaged in a sterile container in doses and sealed, it is durable and has a longer expiration date as coconut milk in a carton. It will not also have cooled. Coconut milk in cans has therefore mainly used a much higher fat content than other types of milk and is used as a cooking ingredient. It is a common staple in many South Asian cuisines and is often used to make curries.
Carton coconut milk is a watery, white liquid derived from the “meat” of the coconut and is typically fortified with vitamins, minerals, and added sugars. It is mainly used as a milk alternative in coffees, smoothies, shakes and cereals. Unlike canned coconut milk, the carton version contains significantly less fat and more water, and in most cases needs to be refrigerated before and after opening.
How long does coconut milk keep?
Coconut milk from the carton can be just as dairy milk in two categories: UHT (Ultra High Temperature) / Shelf Stable and fresh / chilled. The UHT beverage are subjected to extensive heat treatment, in order to increase their shelf life, while this is not the case with the cooled. Therefore, they have different expiration dates and retention policies.
Shelf stable coconut milk typically has a shelf life of six to 12 months. The refrigerated ones tend to have a much shorter expiration date — usually a few weeks after they’re made — and stay fresh for about a week after opening.
What Are the Health Benefits of Coconut Milk?
Not accounting for water, saturated fat is the main ingredient in coconut milk. For several decades saturated fat is considered to be one of the biggest contributors to obesity, cardiovascular disease and degenerative diseases. However more studies (opens in new tab) begin to disagree, pointing to the fact that the correlation between cardiometabolic conditions and saturated fat consumption remains weak.
There is also increasing evidence that fatty acids in coconut oil – especially lauric acid and medium-chain fatty acids – can even be health-promoting. According to a published review Journal of Food and Agricultural Science (opens in new tab)Lauric acid has been shown to have significant antibacterial and antiviral properties, while medium-chain fatty acids, which are similar to the fats found in human breast milk, may play an important role in regulating blood lipids, enhancing cognitive function, and fighting free radicals and reduce inflammationas well as reducing the risk of development Type 2 diabetes and several cancers.
Compared to animal fats, regular consumption of coconut oil can lead to lower levels of “bad” low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and higher levels of “good” high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, according to the results of a meta-analysis published in nutritional assessments (opens in new tab). However, it is worth noting that another meta-analysis published in Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome (opens in new tab) points to other negative effects of coconut oil on cardiometabolic health.
Moreover, according to one published in the review International Journal of Food Science (opens in new tab), Coconut milk contains several compounds that may provide protection against damage to lipids, proteins, and DNA strands. This drink also tends to be fortified with calcium, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin DThat vegans can help to increase the intake of these nutrients without having to resort to additional dietary supplements. Unsweetened coconut milk is largely free of carbs and sugar, making it a great choice for people who are getting on with it low carbohydrate diets.
Coconut milk vs almond milk
Corresponding statistics (opens in new tab), Almond milk is the most popular herbal milk alternative in the United States. Unsweetened almond milk tends to have far fewer calories and much less fat and protein content than coconut milk. As for the nutritional values, they are roughly comparable in both beverages, and this is obviously different from brand to brand. Therefore, almond milk may be a better option for people whose main goal is weight loss, while coconut milk is suitable for people who are looking for a content-rich beverage.
Both almond and coconut milk work well in a variety of foods and beverages. However, coconut milk tends to have a stronger flavor and more overpowering aroma that can overwhelm other ingredients, so it may need to be used more sparingly in cooking.
From an environmental perspective, the impacts of growing coconuts and almonds are fairly similar in terms of their water and land use, according to a review published in the Global food security (opens in new tab) Diary. So it really comes down to your health goals and personal preferences.
https://www.livescience.com/coconut-milk-nutrition Coconut milk: nutrition facts and health benefits