Coconut milk isn’t actually milk at all and is an exceptional dairy alternative! It is derived from the naturally sweet, creamy meat of coconuts. When you crack open a fresh coconut, the milky, white liquid that leaks out is fresh coconut water. When you blend coconut meat and strain it, the result is a thick, delicious, nutritiously dense “milk” that is a versatile kitchen staple.
Coconut milk gets a bad rap due to its high saturated fat content at 92%. However, the saturated fat in coconut milk is a highly nutritious, antioxidant-rich, anti-microbial, anti-viral, medium chain triglyceride (MCT) called lauric acid that is easily digested, absorbed, and quickly metabolized by the body & brain for energy. It is not stored as fat since the body prefers this efficient, clean energy.
High cholesterol is also a popular health concern surrounding saturated fat that has been falsely publicized by mainstream press around the time the low fat craze hit. Research studies indicate that coconut milk can actually help you lower cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure, and prevent heart disease. Furthermore, the MCTs in coconut milk aid in fat loss, improve immune function, support migraine relief/fatigue, and improve digestion.
Coconut milk is also hydrating due to its naturally occurring electrolytes and healthy fats that help the digestive organs function properly. This helps the gut metabolize fat, remove waste from the body, and prevent gut-related ailments such as IBS.
With 43 mg of magnesium per serving, coconut milk is a great way to incorporate more magnesium into your diet. Of course, portion control is important considering the caloric density of coconut milk, but as a part of a whole foods diet free of refined carbohydrates and processed oils, it provides necessary fatty acids that support life and optimize health. Don’t be scared of these extremely beneficial, high quality fats as our bodies need them for optimal nutrient/vitamin absorption!
Search for organic and unsweetened varieties. Guar gum is okay since it’s a natural stabilizer used to keep the texture of the milk. Ideally, the best coconut milk is one sans-pasteurization and cold-pressed. If you’re feeling ambitious, make your own coconut milk! Once obtained, coconut milk can be used in dense smoothies, refreshing drinks, creamy curries, vegetable soups, and dairy-free ice creams. Try using it as a coffee creamer substitute by blending coconut milk, vanilla extract, coconut oil, raw honey or vanilla stevia, and sea salt to taste. Mmmm… move over International Delight!
THE “80 WAY”
Our Homemade Ranch Dressing, Paleo Coconut Yogurt, Chicken Korma, and Stewed Pork with Green Curry all incorporate coconut milk. If you’ve had these dishes, I’m sure you can attest to the degree of satiation and satisfaction due to the healthy saturated fat in this delicious natural “milk”!