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Coconut Milk – The Milk Of The Coconut

Coconut milk tastes delicious and is healthy. Thanks to its high proportion of medium-chain fatty acids, coconut milk – like carbohydrates – is used by the body as a quick source of energy and – in contrast to other fats – is only rarely stored in fatty tissue. Coconut milk can therefore help very well with weight loss. Apart from that, coconut milk is said to be effective against acne and can even stimulate the thyroid gland if it is underactive.

The coconut milk from the coconut

Coconut milk, coconut water, or coconut cream? What’s what? There is often quite a bit of confusion as to what coconut milk even is.

If you drill a hole in a coconut, put a straw in it, and sip the coconut with relish, then it is coconut water and not coconut milk.

If you then open the nut, scrape out the white flesh, put it in the blender with a little warm water, mix thoroughly and then press out this mixture, only then will you get the coconut milk.

If you were to let the milk stand for a day, the fat content of the coconut milk would eventually settle at the top so that you can skim it off. This way you get pure coconut cream.

Coconut milk protects the heart

For decades, the coconut (and thus coconut milk) was accused of being a source of cardiovascular disease due to its high saturated fat content, since saturated fat raises cholesterol levels.

Even today, people still advise avoiding coconut products as part of a heart-friendly diet. And indeed: the fat of the coconut really raises the cholesterol level.

BUT: It only raises the HDL cholesterol level, i.e. the so-called “good” cholesterol, which in turn is associated with a reduced risk of arteriosclerosis and heart attack.

Coconut milk – a staple food in the tropics

Epidemiological observations on people from tropical regions also point to this very positive connection between coconut milk or coconut oil and a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases. Coconut milk and coconut oil have been important staple foods there for thousands of years.

And although these people cover their fat requirements almost exclusively with coconut products, heart attacks and strokes are completely alien to them.

The Kitava Study – Coconut milk is healthy

At the end of the 1980s, for example, the Swedish scientist Lindeberg found a people on the island of Kitava in the archipelago of the Trobriand Islands near Papua New Guinea that still lived largely exclusively on natural foods, i.e. had largely retained their traditional way of life.

Industrially processed food was almost never consumed there. Coconut milk, coconut oil, and other coconut products formed a large part of the Kitava diet. Lindeberg compiles interesting facts (1):

6 percent of the population was between 60 and 95 years old. Still, none of the elderly Kitava residents showed any signs of dementia or memory impairment. While it is very common to die from a heart attack or stroke in the industrialized nations, it was completely different in Kitava. Although there were unexpected deaths there, too, these were people who fell victim to accidents. For example, they drowned while fishing or occasionally fell from a coconut tree. Malaria and tribal feuds also claimed a number of lives. Basically, on Kitava, people died of old age.

Coconut milk yes – coconut palm no

Coconuts are therefore only a health hazard if you want to harvest them yourself, climb up a coconut tree, lose your footing (e.g. because you are attacked by red tropical giant ants up there), and fall. However, if you refrain from climbing 10 or 20-meter-high coconut palms and instead concentrate on enjoying coconut milk, coconut oil, and other coconut products, then the coconut can only benefit you.

Coconut milk helps with weight loss

Coconut milk is quite high in fat. Depending on the dilution, it contains between 15 and about 22 percent fat. Compared to a cream made from cow’s milk, this is still quite little, as it contains between 30 and 35 percent fat. However, coconut milk not only provides less fat, but also a very special fat.

The fatty acids in coconut milk are the rare medium-chain triglycerides, also called MCT (Middle Chain Triglycerides). What makes MCTs special is that they are burned for energy more quickly in the body than other types of fatty acids, which are more likely to cause love handles to grow.

Medium-chain triglycerides are particularly useful for fueling the lymph nodes and liver.

Once inside the cell, medium-chain triglycerides form smaller droplets that are easier for enzymes to bind to and faster for the cell to convert into energy. MCTs are therefore less “fatty” than other types of fatty acids.

For this reason, Asian farmers apparently never give their animals coconuts – at least not if they want to fatten them. The animal would always remain slim and athletic.

As with any food, there is of course the possibility of consuming too MUCH of coconut milk. If you overdo it with coconut milkshakes, coconut milk desserts, coconut milk smoothies, coconut milk soups, etc. – which is admittedly not difficult at all because the coconut milk just tastes so delicious – the positive effect of the MCTs would eventually be gone.

So if you want to lose weight, you should make sure that you don’t consume more than 60 ml (1/4 cup) of coconut milk per day.

If you also want to use coconut oil, then you should completely replace the frying oil you have been using with coconut oil. However, to achieve weight loss, use no more than 30ml of coconut oil daily. If you do that, you can lose weight slowly and healthily.

Coconut milk stimulates the thyroid

Since the MCTs in coconut milk and coconut oil stimulate and boost the metabolism, this should, conversely, revitalize the thyroid – which is also responsible for the speed of metabolism – if it has previously suffered from hypothyroidism.

Coconut milk contains the antibacterial effective lauric acid

One of the medium-chain fatty acids is what is known as lauric acid. The coconut oil in coconut milk even consists of about 50 to 55 percent of this fatty acid. Lauric acid has the most helpful ability to inhibit bacterial growth.

As a result, foods (e.g. spreads, sweets) prepared with coconut oil last longer than the same meals prepared with other fats. Coconut oil stays fresh at room temperature (i.e. not refrigerated) for up to a year.

However, lauric acid not only has an antibacterial effect in meals but also in the body when coconut milk or coconut oil is eaten.

For this purpose, lauric acid penetrates the cell wall of pathogens (bacteria, fungi, viruses) and thus leads to their death. In this way, lauric acid is said to be able to destroy even herpes or flu viruses and candida fungi.

Coconut milk for acne?

The antibacterial lauric acid in coconut milk is also an effective compound against the bacterium commonly associated with acne, Propionibacterium acnes. The lauric acid survives digestion, enters the bloodstream, and is attracted to the sebum that forms in the pores of the skin.

The acid dissolves in sebum, so it can slow the growth of acne bacteria right there, reducing excess sebum production.

Coconut milk instead of cow’s milk

While cow’s milk and thus also the cream made from it has increasingly developed into a multi-processed industrial product from factory farming that is not exactly animal-friendly in recent decades, coconut milk – if bought in high quality – is still the unadulterated natural product that many peoples in tropical countries and islands serve as a staple food.

Diluted coconut milk is a nutritious and great-tasting substitute for cow’s milk. It complements the taste of pineapple, peach, mango, and many other fruits very well and can therefore be used to prepare fruit smoothies or desserts.

Asian cuisine also has countless recipes for soups, sauces, and vegetable and meat dishes to choose from, all of which cannot do without coconut milk.

Coconut milk – Quality matters

As with almost all foods, there are serious quality differences with coconut milk. In any case, pay attention to organic quality, as the coconuts for your coconut milk were then cultivated without chemicals and in ecological mixed cultures.

Organic coconut milk usually also has a higher coconut content, so it is thicker and therefore more productive. Organic coconut milk is also bottled without any additives, i.e. it contains no preservatives or thickening agents.

Once opened, a can of coconut milk is best placed in a sealable glass container and can then be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Coconut milk is also available in powder form. Simply add the amount specified by the manufacturer per glass to a glass of water, stir and enjoy a wonderful coconut drink.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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