Coconut milk is an opaque, milky-white liquid extracted from the grated pulp of mature coconuts. The opacity and rich taste of coconut milk are due to it’s high oil content, most of which is saturated fat. Coconut milk is a traditional food ingredient used in Southeast Asia, Oceania, South Asia and East Africa. It is also for cooking in the Caribbean, tropical Latin America, and West Africa, where coconut were introduced during the colonial era.
Coconut milk is differentiated into subtypes based on fat content. They can be generalized into coconut cream (or thick coconut milk) with the highest amount of fat; coconut milk (or thin coconut milk) with a maximum of around 20% fat; and coconut skim milk with negligible amounts of fat. This terminology is not always followed in commercial coconut milk sold in western countries.
Coconut milk can also be used to produce milk substitutes (differentiated as “coconut milk beverages”). These products are not the same as regular coconut milk products which are meant for cooking, not drinking. A sweetened, processed, coconut milk products from Puerto Rico is also known as cream of coconut. It is used in many desserts and beverages like the pine colada, though it should not be confused with coconut cream.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF COCONUT MILK
Research suggests that coconut milk has health benefits. Below describe the effects on weight loss, heart health, and the immune system.
■ WEIGHT LOSS
Coconut milk contains medium-chain triglycerides (MTCs), which researchers have linked with weight loss. MTCs stimulate energy through a process called thermogenesis, or heat production.
Some studies indicate that MTCs work to reduce body weight and waist size. They may also balance out unstable gut microbiota. A lack of this stability may play a role in developing obesity.
A 2015 study in overweight men found that consuming MTCs at breakfast led to reduced food intake later in the day.
Findings of a 2018 study suggest that MCTs increase insulin sensitivity, and may researchers believe that this sensitivity promotes weight loss. Insulin is an essential hormone that breaks down glucose and controls blood sugar levels.
Research has linked diets rich in saturated fat with high cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease.
Some people may not consider coconut milk to be heart-healthy, because of it’s high fat content.
However, different sources of saturated fats may affect the body in different ways. Also, genetics play a role in how a person metabolizes saturated fats and the extent to which these fats impact health.
Scant research has investigated the effects of coconut milk on cholesterol levels. However, a substantial body of research has explored the effects of coconut oil.
One study found that coconut oil did not significantly increase levels of “bad cholesterol,” or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, but that it did increase levels of “good cholesterol,” or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL).
It is important to note that the study period was short, only 4 weeks, and that the research was lacking in controls.
HDL cholesterol protects the heart and removes LDL cholesterol from the blood. It carries LDL cholesterol to the liver, which breaks it down, and the body eventually eliminates it.
While coconut oil may not raise level of LDL cholesterol, coconut-based products are high in fat and calories, People should only consume them in moderation.
Keep in mind that coconut oil has substantially more fat per serving than coconut milk, which will have less dramatic effects on cholesterol levels
Boots immune system
Coconut contain a lipid called lauric acid, and many researchers believe that lauric acid can support the immune system
Some findings indicate that lauric acid has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory.
In a study of the antimicrobial effects of lauric acid from coconuts, the researchers isolated various bacterial strains and exposed them to lauric acid and petri dishes.
They found that lauric acid effectively inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus pneumoniae, and mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Other researchers found that lauric acid triggers apoptosis, cell death, in breast and endometrial cancer cells. The finding suggest that this acid inhibits cancer cell growth by stimulating certain receptor proteins that regulate the growth of cells.
Nutrition in coconut milk
Coconut milk contains high levels of saturated fat, making it a very calcium-rich food.
The milk is also rich with vitamins and minerals,but the nutritional contents vary product. Coconut milk drinks, for example, have a different nutritional profile from canned coconut milk.
The nutritional profile per cup of raw, canned milk is:
●water: 164.71 grams (g)
●protein: 4.57 g
●fat: 48.21 g
●carbohydrates: 6.35 g
●calcium: 41 milligram (mg)
●potassium: 497 mg
●magnesium: 104 mg
●iron: 7.46 mg
The nutritional profile per cup of sweetened coconut milk beverage is:
●water: 226.97 g
●protein: 0.50 g
●fat: 4.99 g
●carbohydrates: 7.01 g
●calcium: 451 mg
●potassium: 46 mg
Manufacturers often fortify these drinks with vitamins A, B-12, and D2.
OTHER POTENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS
Coconut milk may also:
●Reduce inflammation: Animal studies found that coconut extract and coconut oil reduced inflammation and swelling in injured rats and mice.
●Decrease stomach ulcer size: In one study, coconut milk reduced stomach ulcer size in rats by 54% – a result comparable to the effect of an anti-nuclear drug.
●Fight viruses and bacteria: Test-tube studies suggest that lauric acid may reduce the levels of viruses and bacteria that cause infections. This includes those that reside in your mouth.
Animal and test-tube studies suggest that coconut milk may reduce inflammation, decrease ulcer size and fight viruses and bacteria that cause infections – though some studies did not solely examine coconut milk.