If you are looking for a dairy-free product milk substitute you have many options to choose from, such as soy, macadamia, oats, almond, cashews, and rice milk, to name a few. But coconut milk benefits in particular have been getting a lot of attention lately.
So what exactly is coconut milk? There are two products with this name, so it helps to understand the difference:
- Traditional coconut milk is made by soaking shredded coconut meat in hot water and then straining out the solids. This produces the thick, creamy canned coconut milk often used in desserts, soups, and sauces.
- Coconut milk drink is produced by adding water, sweeteners, and stabilizers to traditional coconut milk. The flavor and consistency are similar to low-fat milk, and it is usually packaged in cartons and marketed as a dairy alternative. (This is the type of coconut milk you will see on the menu at Starbucks.)
The benefits of coconut milk listed below refer to the coconut milk drink. It is important to note that coconut milk does not provide protein and is not a 1:1 alternative to regular milk.
You’ll also want to make sure you choose a coconut milk drink that’s fortified with calcium and vitamin D, much like regular milk would be.
So is drinking coconut milk good for you? Is it healthier than regular milk? Before deciding whether or not to stock your refrigerator, let’s clarify all the benefits of coconut milk.
1. It’s plant-based and dairy-free
This may seem like an obvious advantage, but it is an important advantage! Coconut milk offers another delicious dairy-free alternative for people on a diet. plant-based diet or does not tolerate dairy products.
Like other plant-based alternatives to milk, coconut milk is also a relatively eco-friendly option with a reduced carbon footprint than dairy products.
If you’re going to drink coconut milk every day, go for the drink version. Canned unsweetened coconut milk contains 420 calories per cup while the unsweetened coconut milk drink contains 40 calories per cup.
2. It provides healthy fats
Coconuts are a natural source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat thought to benefit overall health and help increase energy expenditure and support a healthy weight said Emilie TillsMS, RDN, CDN.
And while coconuts contain saturated fat, that doesn’t mean the nutrition in coconut milk should be lumped in with butter or bacon. Lauric acid is the type of saturated fat in coconuts, and it may have benefits for heart health.
3. It has fewer carbohydrates than other plant-based kinds of milk
Although the exact carb count may vary slightly from brand to brand, coconut milk is generally lower in carbs than other dairy alternatives.
Unsweetened coconut milk has 1 gram of carbohydrates per one cup serving. The same amount of unsweetened oat milk has 14 grams, while unsweetened rice milk has up to 22 grams per cup.
This makes coconut milk a good alternative for anyone who needs to control their carb intake, says Tills.
4. It may be easier to digest
Some people have problems digesting milk, even if they are not lactose intolerant. If this applies to you, replacing coconut milk with dairy products can help you avoid these problems.
And coconut milk may be a little gentler on the stomach than other nut milk thanks to MCT, which is “an easily digestible fat that’s often well tolerated in people who might have trouble digesting fat.” ‘other fats’, says Dana HunnesPhD, MPH, RD, senior dietitian at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
5. It’s a good source of potassium
You will have 310mg of potassium in a cup of unsweetened coconut milk – almost as much as a banana, which provides 451mg per serving and has a reputation as a potassium powerhouse.
This mineral is a type of electrolyte it is crucial for almost every function of the body including your heartbeat, muscles, and nerves.
6. It May Support Immune Health
Coconut milk has antioxidant properties that can help support a healthy immune system, says Hunnes. And research suggests the lauric acid in coconut may also provide some benefits for healthy immune function.
7. It adds flavor to your recipes
Finally, let’s talk about one of the most important benefits of coconut milk: it’s delicious! Some dairy alternatives don’t taste very good, especially if you buy unsweetened products. Coconut milk, however, is full of flavor.
Take full advantage of it by using coconut milk in a protein shake recipe, like our Coconut Macaroon Shakeology And Chocolate Coconut Smoothie. And because coconut milk lacks protein, it’s a great way to enjoy this dairy alternative while boosting your protein intake for the day.