Every time a topic of adding milk to coffee, someone will recommend coconut milk. And naturally, someone else will chime in, telling everyone how coconut milk is, in fact, very bad for humans and we shouldn’t be using it. That usually sparks a spirited debate among the two sides, which leads to everyone else going home before they die of boredom. So, let’s clear it once and for all, is coconut milk bad for you?
How Do You Milk a Coconut?
Humans have been using coconut in their diet for thousands of years. Its nutritious qualities have been well-documented and even the names given to it by the old cultures reflect that. In Sanskrit, it was known as Kalpa vriksha or “the tree which provides all the necessities of life”. Even today, the Filipinos are calling it the tree of life. These names reflect the versatility of Coconut palm and its many uses. Coconut fruit is not really a nut, but rather a drupe, just like coffee, mango, and olives.
Coconut milk is made from grated coconut meat. The high-fat content is what gives it its look and rich taste and determines the type. Coconut cream or thick coconut milk has the highest fat content, followed by thin coconut milk and coconut skim milk. It shouldn’t be confused with coconut water, which is found inside the fruit naturally and contains far fewer nutrients than coconut milk.
Coconut milk is not the only great alternative to creamer, check out “Best 10 Milk Alternatives For Coffee You Have to Try” for more options.
Why Is Coconut Milk Good for You?
According to several studies, coconut milk can help with various health conditions. It can increase weight loss, strengthen your immune system, and improver heart health.
Coconut milk can help you lose some weight thanks to medium-chain triglycerides or MCT, it contains. They affect our bodies in several ways. One of the processes that benefit from MCT is called thermogenesis, or heat production, which can aid greatly in reducing the amount of fat in the human body. About 12% of coconut oil is comprised of capric acid and caprylic acid. They are easily digested and provide an excellent source of energy. Even if not used, they are far less likely to be stored as fat in a body, due to their composition and the way our body digests them.
Cholesterol & Heart Health Effects
Because of its high-fat content, coconut milk was considered bad for heart health. Recent studies have shown that the opposite is true. This can help keep bad cholesterol in check. Compared to soymilk, the reduction of bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is 60% greater with people who regularly consume coconut for breakfast. It also helps increase the levels of good high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) by 18%, compared to soy milk, which increased HLD levels by just 3%.
Lauric acid provides some of the biggest health benefits of coconut milk and coconuts in general. Once consumed, our body converts it to monolaurin, which has several health benefits. The studies are still inconclusive, but so far there is some strong evidence suggesting that lauric acid can reduce the number of bacteria and viruses that could cause some sort of infection in your body. Studies on mice have shown that it can also reduce inflammation and even swellings, making it an excellent anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. As such, lauric acid may prove to be a great addition to our immune system, helping us fight off various infections and diseases. There are even studies suggesting that lauric acid can be used in cancer treatments, especially with breast and endometrial cancer.
Check out an even longer list of benefits to coconut milk in “Top 7 Coconut Milk Benefits For You”. How else can coconut milk benefit you?!
Coconut Milk Side Effects
People with nut allergies often avoid consuming coconuts thinking they are allergic to them. Like we said at the beginning, coconut is not a nut, but a drupe, and will not trigger an allergic reaction like peanuts will. Of course, coconut allergy exists, but it is extremely rare and chances of having an allergic reaction to consuming coconut are very low. People are far more likely to have a reaction to dermatological products made with coconut, but that is not the topic for us.
The second risk of having coconut in your diet is over-consumption. Like with all things, the key to enjoying full benefits of coconut is moderation. If you have trouble resisting that sweet taste and get carried away with it, you need to remember that coconut milk is very rich in calories and fats. Despite all the benefits, at the end of the day, overeating coconut will have the same effects as overeating any other calorie-rich food and that is weight gain and all other consequences that come with it.
Finally, some people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome have reported digestive issues when consuming coconut milk. This is due to the presence of fermentable carbohydrates in this milk, which can trigger a reaction. If you have IBS, the best thing would be to test yourself with small amounts of milk and see if you get a reaction.
Check out how to make another great milk option like oat milk in “How To Make Oat Milk At Home“
Of course, if you want to feel all these benefits (or side effects) of coconut milk, you will need to consume it in significant amounts, far larger than a few teaspoons in your coffee. If you just want to add that sweet coconut taste to your morning coffee, chances are you don’t have to worry about any of them.
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We’ll brew ya later!