Coconut milk is often thought of as being high fat (particularly the tins of coconut milk and cream you can buy in a local supermarket to add to your curry), but the truth is that coconut milk actually has many health benefits, which is why it’s a popular ingredient in dishes all over the world, as well as being an excellent alternative to traditional dairy products.
Health benefits of coconut milk
It can help lower cholesterol
High cholesterol levels can lead to a number of health conditions including heart disease and high blood pressure. As coconuts are rich in lauric acid, they have a number of antibacterial properties as well as being able to lower cholesterol levels. A study involving 60 participants who consumed porridge made with coconut milk as opposed to regular cow’s milk showed that a decrease in their low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels whilst their high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels (known as the good lipoproteins) decreased, therefore lowering cholesterol.
It’s good for exercise and building muscles
When you exercise, muscles tear, and it’s throughout the healing process that they become bigger and stronger. Coconut milk contains essential nutrients to help your muscles to repair, including electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium. Coconut milk also contains unsaturated fats which can increase the amount of energy we use, helping to boost endurance during a workout. Electrolytes are also vital for preventing exhaustion, heat stroke, and other conditions which can occur during hot weather and post-exercise.
It can help you lose weight
A study by McGill University found that the medium chain triglycerides (also known as MCTs) found in coconut milk can aid weight loss, not only by being an effective fat burner, but also working as a filling food source which can prevent snacking, overeating and cravings which can all lead to weight gain. As it does have a high calorie content, it is best to consume coconut milk in moderation.
It could help control diabetes
As coconut milk has a high healthy fat content, it could help to regulate our sugar levels, slowing down how quickly sugar enters the blood stream, which can maintain insulin levels to prevent sugar rushes. You could use coconut milk as an alternative ingredient in cakes and other desserts to help balance out the sugar they contain as well. It can also be used as a sweet alternative if you’re used to putting sugar in your tea or on cereal.
It can help reduce inflammation
As well as their fat-burning properties, MCTs can also help to reduce inflammation, which is great news for people with painful joints, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. MCTs can help to reduce further swelling, offering relief for people with painful muscles and joints.
They can boost skin and hair health
The lauric acid found in coconut milk can also have a number of health benefits for your skin and hair. Acting as a natural antiseptic, it could help improve conditions such as dry skin, dandruff and even wounds or skin infections. As part of a healthy diet, you could see an improvement in the health of your skin and scalp.
Easy ways to add coconut milk to your diet
Like other types of milk alternative, coconut milk is easy to add into your diet and can be a good substitute for other types of milk. By adding it to hot drinks, cereals, porridge and other places you’d normally use milk, it can be a good swap for your diet. It also makes a fantastic ingredient for cooking, so if you like Asian, Indian or Caribbean cuisine you’ll find plenty of good uses for it, whilst it adds some extra flavour to sauces for meat and pasta.
It’s important to take care of your health by maintaining a healthy diet. Diabetes and heart disease are conditions which shouldn’t be ignored, so if you have any symptoms of these or you are concerned about your health and diet, please contact your GP. You can also contact us out of hours if you need urgent help for your condition.