Advertisement
Why to include coconut milk in the diet? Well, the answer is simple; It is a reservoir of minerals and is also a good source of vitamins. Its high nutritional value is what makes it at par with dairy products. It is also an active ingredient of a number of skin care products, as its application can keep the skin healthy and wrinkle-free.

Nutritional Profile of Coconut Milk

Many people are ignorant or have very little knowledge about the amount of nutrients a cup of coconut milk (240 g) contains. It is discussed below:

Calcium
The mineral calcium must be an integral part of the diet as it promotes healthy bones and teeth. One can always get calcium from this milk in sufficient amounts. A cup of coconut milk (240 g) contains approximately 38.4 mg of calcium.

Magnesium
Coconut milk is a rich source of magnesium. Adequate magnesium in diet can help to maintain normal blood pressure and significantly decrease the risk of cardiovascular ailments such as heart attacks. 240 g of coconut milk has around 89 mg of magnesium.

Potassium and Phosphorus
When you drink a cup of coconut milk, you actually consume 631 mg of potassium and 240 mg of phosphorus. Being high in potassium, drinking this milk can definitely enhance your energy levels as well as help to control high blood pressure. Also, for a healthy development of bone structure, intake of dietary phosphorus is crucial. To ensure optimal functioning of the kidneys and to maintain bone health, including phosphorus in the diet is also necessary, which can always be achieved by drinking this milk.

Iron
If you want to reduce your chances of developing iron-deficiency anemia, what better way than drinking this milk. Supplement your healthy diet with this milk and rest assured you are unlikely to suffer from anemia. This is because, one cup of coconut milk contains a whopping 3.93 mg of dietary iron.

Other Minerals
Manganese, copper and zinc are some of the other minerals found naturally in this milk. No wonder, drinking a cup of coconut milk is equivalent to taking 1.6 mg of zinc, 0.6 mg of copper and 2.2 mg of manganese.

Proteins
Many are under the assumption that proteins are absent in this milk. However, this is not true. But that does not mean, it is a good source of proteins. Unlike poultry products, the milk does not provide adequate amount of proteins. Although, it contains different types of proteins such as arginine and cystine, the total concentration of proteins in this milk is very low. So, if you are into bodybuilding, then drinking this milk would certainly be a wrong choice.

Selenium
Selenium that plays a crucial role in the working of thyroid gland can also be obtained from this milk. Although our body requires it in miniscule amounts, its deficiency can lead to autoimmune disorders and increase the risk of prostate cancer. An easy way to minimize the risk of these health problems is to include this milk in the diet. You will get around 14.88 mcg of selenium if you drink a cup of coconut milk.

Vitamins
The nutritional value of this milk is not remarkable in terms of vitamin content. Unfortunately, a cup of coconut milk is devoid of vitamin A and vitamin D. On a positive side, it contains vitamin C (6.7 mg) and vitamin E (0.4 mg) in moderate amounts.

A 240 g of coconut milk also supplies different types of B vitamins. The B complex group that include thiamine (vitamin B1), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and folic acid (vitamin B9) are all present in this milk. Although the content of vitamin B1 isn't noteworthy, the concentration of vitamin B3 is significant. This is because 240 g of coconut milk delivers around 1.824 mg of vitamin B3.

Carbohydrates
This milk is a friend of those who are on a low-carb diet. One can make a variety of low-carb recipes using this milk. A cup of coconut milk contains only 13.3 g of carbohydrates.

Sugar
The sweet taste of this milk is due to its sugar content. This naturally occurring ingredient in this milk gives it a pleasant taste and hence this milk is often used as a flavor enhancer. Sugar content is found to be extremely low; just 8 g in 240 g of coconut milk.

Saturated Fats
One of the important constituents of coconut milk is coconut oil, which unfortunately is high in saturated fats. Although the amount of coconut oil present in coconut milk may vary from one brand to another, nonetheless it is rich in coconut oil. Just 1 cup of coconut milk contains a whooping 3 tablespoons of coconut oil or 50 g of saturated fats. Therefore, drinking coconut milk in moderation is the key to enjoy its benefits. However, the milk also contains healthy fats (omega 6 essential fatty acids (626 mg) monounsaturated fats (2.4 g)) that promote overall health.

Lauric Acid
Coconut milk is an important source of lauric acid, which is shown to increase good (HDL) cholesterol. Although it is a type of saturated fat, lauric acid does not raise bad (LDL) cholesterol. It increases total blood cholesterol by improving HDL/LDL ratio. However, as lauric acid can substantially raise total blood cholesterol, it is best not to consume coconut milk in high amounts.

Calories
Drink a cup of coconut milk and you consume approximately 553 calories. This sounds a bit high, so doctors often recommend to consume it in moderation.

Coconut Milk Benefits

A Healthy Alternative to Dairy Products
Dairy products are a strict no-no for people who are lactose intolerant. However, this restriction in diet can deprive the body of essential nutrients. In such a scenario, coconut milk can be a good replacement for dairy milk. This is because coconut milk is not only high in nutrition but also free from lactose. So, if you have been asked to avoid dairy and are looking for lactose free milk, what better substitute than coconut milk.

Immunity Booster
As aforementioned, coconut milk contains lauric acid in significant amounts. Initial studies suggest lauric acid as an effective antimicrobial agent. It is found to be capable of destroying the H. pylori bacteria that causes digestion problems such as gastritis and stomach ulcers. Another study found it to be antiviral in nature. No wonder, lauric acid supplements are being used in the treatment of viral infections such seasonal flu. So, considering the potential benefits of lauric acid, regularly drinking coconut milk may boost immunity and protect you from various infection-causing germs.

A Good Hair Conditioner
As coconut milk contains substantial amount of coconut oil, one can also use it to maintain their healthy locks of hair. Coconut milk contain reasonable amount of iron and protein that essentially promote hair growth. As far as usage is concerned, applying a combination of shampoo and coconut milk (mixed in equal amounts) is beneficial for hair. Another option would be to directly massage small amount of coconut milk on the scalp. Let it remain for around 15-20 minutes and then rinse it off. Make sure to use homemade coconut milk and not the one available in tetra packs.

Types of Coconut Milk

Coconut milk can be either thick or thin. Thick milk is obtained by straining grated coconut meat in a cheesecloth. You need to hang the cheesecloth bag (containing grated coconut meat) from a hook to drain the milk. Make sure to keep a bowl below the cheesecloth bag to collect the thick milk that is dripping out.

The strained coconut meat is then put in warm water and again squeezed using a cheesecloth. The coconut milk obtained after straining soaked coconut meat, multiple times is known as thin milk. Thick coconut milk is an important ingredient of desserts and sauces. On the other hand, thin coconut milk is often added in soups.

Coconut Milk and BPA

BPA, also referred to as bisphenol-A is an organic compound used in manufacturing plastic and metal products. Purchasing coconut milk that is stored in BPA based plastic cans is not a good option from a health standpoint. This is because BPA exhibits estrogen effect, which can be harmful to health. Animal studies have shown that the estrogen-like properties of BPA may cause infertility, breast cancer and premature puberty. It is observed that the inner surface of cans is coated with a material (liner) that contains a high amount of BPA. Various tests have found that BPA mixes with food and beverages that are stored in plastic and metal cans. Considering the dangers of BPA, it has been advised to avoid bottles and cans that contain BPA linings. As far as coconut milk is concerned, one should go for brands that sell it in BPA-free cans. Native Forest, Aroy-D and Trader Joe's are some of the brands that provide BPA-free coconut milk. If you are planning to drink this milk everyday, make sure you consult a qualified nutritionist.