Coconuts are grown in abundance in Malaysia, Polynesia, and southern Asia. Coconut milk is made from the fully grown adult coconut pulp. It is a creamy, thick liquid that can either be homemade or brought from the store. In the Sanskrit language, Coconut palm is called Kalpa Vriksha, meaning ‘tree that gives all that is necessary.’ Almost all the parts of the coconut palm are useful. Even the trunk and leaves are generally used for decorations on various occasions.
Many people have questions like, is coconut milk dairy, is coconut milk vegan, where does it come from, and many more. This article is dedicated to answering all those questions.
Where does Coconut Milk Come From?
Coconut milk is dairy-free, vegan milk made out of mature coconut pulp. There are different kinds of coconut milk available in the market. Depending on the consistency, thick and thin coconut milk is available. Depending on the sweetness, there is sweetened and unsweetened coconut milk, mostly obtainable from the stores.
The solid coconut is grated and is either boiled or simmered in the water. It is then strained using a cheesecloth. This gives us the freshly prepared thick coconut milk. For the thin coconut milk, the same process is repeated until one is satisfied with the consistency. It is always recommended to make milk at home to obtain the best consistency required.
Common confusion: Many people confuse coconut for a nut, but coconut comes under the fruits.
Benefits of Coconut Milk
There are many health benefits of coconut milk. Coconut is rich in fats, has good portions of sodium and potassium, has vitamins like A, C, D, B-6, and a few percentages of calcium and iron are also found. What a versatile fruit it is!
1. Helps in Weight Loss
Coconut milk has medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are generally linked to weight loss. MCTs, stimulate energy through heat production.
A study shows that MCTs also help in reducing body weight and waist size. They also help in balancing the gut microbiota.
2. Cholesterol and Heart Health
Many people doubt if coconut milk is the right choice for heart health as it contains high amounts of saturated fats. There is very little research done on coconut milk alone, but one research suggests that it can benefit people with normal or high cholesterol levels. Cholesterol and triglyceride levels improve with coconut intake.
3. Improves Immunity
Coconuts contain lauric acid, and lauric acid is believed to help in supporting the immune system. A study by Lindsey K. Elmore, PharmD, BCPS, Gwen Nance, Samantha Singleton, and Luke Lorenz suggested that lauric acid has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
4. Rich in Electrolytes
Coconut milk is rich in electrolytes just like coconut water. It helps reduce fatigue and acts as an energy booster. Feeling low on energy? Make yourself a smoothie or oatmeal with coconut milk in it, and see the change in your energy levels immediately.
Other benefits of coconut milk include:
- Builds muscle and helps reduce fat
- Improves digestion
- Relieves constipation
Coconut Milk for your Skin and Hair
Coconut milk is not only good for your health, but its properties help in having great skin and hair. Coconut milk has good amounts of fatty acids, which helps in keeping your skin and hair moisturized.
If you are suffering from dry hair, apply homemade coconut milk to your scalp and massage for 5-10 minutes. Then wrap a hot towel for 20 min and maybe enjoy some coconut milk dish. Wash it away after 20 min and have frizz-free, smooth, and healthy hair.
Coconut milk also acts as a moisturizer for the face. If you have dry skin or looking for natural ways to moisturize your skin, then this is it. Apply coconut milk to your face, and massage it in a circular motion for 5 min, and wash your face with plain water, or use mild soap. You would be ready to rock that party, even in winters.
Side Effects of Coconut Milk
There are no side effects or allergies associated with coconut milk. People who are allergic to coconuts, in general, should not consume coconut milk or any other coconut products. Since coconut is a fruit and not a nut, as many people get confused, there are no nut allergies from coconut milk.
Coconut milk contains high levels of fat and calories. Consuming a lot of coconut milk can result in unhealthy weight gain. Consuming recommended amounts of coconut milk results in more benefits than side effects.
Coconut milk also contains fermentable carbohydrates. These can cause digestive issues, like diarrhea or constipation, in people with irritable bowel syndrome. People with coconut allergy experience similar symptoms to those of other food allergies. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.
Which One to Buy and How to Store it?
There are a lot of varieties available in the market. Make sure you buy the right now according to your tastes. Always remember to read the labels properly. Make sure that there are no more than two ingredients added. The basic ingredients in coconut milk are coconut and water. Beware of preservatives, artificial sweeteners. We always want to use the most organic products available. Make sure that you are checking the expiration dates and damages to the can if any.
Once you open the can and want to store the remaining, transfer the contents to a resealable container and refrigerate it. Make sure you are using it within a few days, or else there are high chances the milk might get spoilt.
A 100ml serving of canned coconut milk contains:
- 169 calories
- 1.1g protein
- 16.9g fat
- 14.6g saturated fat
- 3.3g carbohydrate
Ways to Add Coconut Milk to your Diet
There are a number of ways to add coconut milk to your diet. Here are some of the easy-peasy ways to make your diet more healthy and tasty!
- Cereal: Replace the dairy or other milk with coconut, and see the magic happen. The thickness in the coconut milk and the natural sweetness it has adds to the cereal.
- Smoothie: We all know how healthy and wholesome smoothies are. Adding coconut milk to your smoothies makes them more thick and wholesome
- Make your Curries Thick: Since the consistency of coconut milk is very thick, it adds texture to your curries and also enhances the taste. This would definitely make a perfect dinner recipe.
Experiment with your coconut milk, and we are sure you would be creating some amazing recipes for yourself and your loved ones.
Also read- Coconut Milk For Skin