5 Incredible Health Benefits of Coconut Milk


For centuries the tall, single-trunk coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) was native to the eastern tropical regions of the world. Its large edible fruit (also referred to as the seed, drupe or nut) provided a reliable and nutritious dietary staple for diverse cultures. However, food is only part of the story. Coconut, in all its forms (flesh (meat), milk, water and oil, etc.) was, and continues to be, a valuable medicinal staple too. In this piece, we uncover the many benefits of coconut milk [1], [2].

The Discovered Health Benefits of Coconut Milk

As humans began to travel longer distances over land and sea, news got out about the amazing benefits and uses of coconuts. The coconut milk and water content was of particular interest in areas that suffered frequent drought. The water inside the young green coconuts – known as Baal – is perhaps the most sterile on earth. Even coconut roots, leaves, seeds and shells have their value. No part of this magnificent plant goes to waste, and that’s what makes it so special.

Today, we can find coconut plantations in many other parts of the tropical world. The global demand for coconuts as a food and as a health and beauty product is relentless. Moreover, this demand is becoming so high that supply is set to fall behind if the trend continues.

Today’s geographic distribution of coconut palms includes these three regions:

  • Asian continent (Indonesia, India, Ceylon)
  • Central and South America (Mexico and Brazil), The Caribbean
  • Africa (Tanzania, Ghana, Mozambique and others)

Not only is the coco palm resilient, but it can live up to 70 or 80 years in fertile soil, even longer in some cases. At its best, the tree is able to produce up to 75 fruits per year when farmed in ideal conditions. These are just a few of the astonishing facts of the coconut palm. Let’s now get into the benefits of coconut milk and see how it compares to the water.

What Is Coconut Milk?

Coconut milk is a balanced blend of coconut flesh scrapings and water. The ratio of fat/protein and water is about 50/50. To get the milk, the meat is soaked in heated water for a while and then strained off. Coconut milk is a wonderful source of valuable nutrients such as iron, phosphorus, calcium, protein and certain vitamins. Once inside your digestive system, the milk becomes an alkali producer that helps to maintain a normal pH balance within the body.

Pure Coconut Milk Is Alkaline Forming

Maintaining the acid/alkaline balance in your body is vital as it helps to protect you against disease and common illness. If the human body gets too acidic, that puts enormous stress on its system. Most of us eat a highly acidic diet, so the key here is to either avoid acidic foods, or eat less of them with plenty of foods that are alkalizing [3].

Coconut milk helps to keep your body in a more alkaline state so it should definitely be on the menu. The alkalinity benefit of coconut milk is just one of the many health advantages of this wonderful beverage. There are lot of health claims and benefits of pure coconut milk—with regular consumption—though the five most talked about include:

  1. Helps to lower high blood pressure and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels
  2. The milk’s medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) help to build muscle and lose fat
  3. Relieves constipation symptoms and improves digestion
  4. Helps to prevent inflammation of the joints
  5. Helps to prevent open sores (ulcers)

#1 How Coconut Milk Lowers Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is not always easy to control, especially without conventional medication. One of the best known “natural” ways to bring down hypertension is with coconut milk. It works because of the milk’s mineral content. It assists circulation and helps to maintain optimal blood flow. The milk also helps to keep blood vessels elastic, more flexible and prevents plaque from building up.

#2 Lose Fat, Build Muscle

We’ve known for some time now that the best way to burn fat is to eat fat. Coconut milk is high in the healthiest of all fats. Your body relies on three macronutrients for its energy source:

  1. Carbohydrates
  2. Protein
  3. Fat

For many years now we have reduced the third macronutrient, fat, from the diet as much as possible. For decades we have also been getting bigger and wider as a consequence. As for energy, a single gram of fat will provide more than double the energy of a gram of carbs or protein. Without fat in the diet, there is less fuel to burn calories. More healthy fats in the diet and less carbs (plant foods) can see your fuel supply switch from glucose (blood sugar) to fat burning mode. In other words your body will burn fat for fuel, and when that happens, weight loss is inevitable.

Muscle Repair and Development

After you exercise, your damaged muscles need to repair and develop, and for this they require lots of nutrients. Coconut milk supplies your muscles with the valuable nutrients they need. These include magnesium, potassium and electrolytes. Tired, overworked muscles can then repair any broken tissue and grow back bigger and stronger than before.

#3 Constipation and Digestion

Regular consumption of coconut milk and/or water will help you to stay hydrated. A hydrated body is important for all kinds of health reasons, including conditions like constipation. A hydrated gastrointestinal tract can both prevent and treat constipation symptoms. Aside from hydrating your digestive tract, coconut milk also provides nourishment for your digestive lining with its healthy fats and electrolytes. This helps to maintain a healthy gut overall and prevent conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS [4].

 

 

#4 Reduces Inflammation of the Joints

Coconut milk contains a trace element called selenium. A “trace element’ is a dietary component that the body needs to function but only in small amounts. Selenium plays a crucial role in the body by helping with metabolism (the converting of food and water into available energy). Selenium has antioxidant properties which protect your cells from damage. The selenium in coconut milk helps to reduce an overproduction of the free radicals that attack healthy cells and damage tissues. When left unchecked, an excess of free radicals causes inflammation, joint pain and stiffness, and also organ damage over time. The medical profession refers to selenium as a free-radical scavenger because of the way it scavenges or stabilizes free radicals inside the body. [5], [6].

#5 How Coconut Milk Prevents Ulcers

Some say coconut milk protects the stomach lining from ulcers as well as, if not better than, traditional medications. The reason for this is likely down to its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Any of the coconut products should be able to help with stomach ulcers, a.k.a. gastric ulcers. Coconut milk’s antibacterial qualities can kill the bacteria (Helicobacter pylori) that cause stomach ulcers. The way to treat peptic ulcers with coconut milk is to drink about half a cup daily. After a few days you may notice a reduction in discomfort and pain. If symptoms do persist, however, it’s important to seek advice from a medical professional without delay [7], [8].

How to Eat Coconut Milk

There are so many ways to consume coconut milk other than eat. Coconut curry is perhaps one of the most popular, which is delicious when slow cooked. As a soup, coconut, pumpkin and chili work really well together. Another great starter dish is spiced cauliflower with red lentils and toasted coconut. Coconut dal (an Indian dish with pureed legumes) with mixed vegetable pakoras is just sensational. You might like to try coconut rice too, which goes great with Thai-style green curry. Staying with the Thai theme for dessert, there’s coconut and sticky-rice pudding with papaya and lime salad [9].

For drinks you can have coconut milk neat or you can experiment. The beverages have no limits other than your imagination. There are lots of tasty spiced hot coconut drinks to play around with. Mango and coconut smoothie is popular in health circles. There really are no confines to how you can consume the milk of fresh coconuts [10].

Food for Thought

Despite the many wonderful benefits of coconut milk, cream and oil, some people are still reluctant to eat it, at least on a regular basis. It’s the same with raw nuts and papaya, a.k.a. Fruit of the Angels. You will most likely have come across as many negative articles on foods containing natural fats as you have positive ones, like this. Just know that coconut, in all its forms, is “real” food, the stuff we have evolved to eat. We can’t say the same for many of the manmade inventions that find their way on to the modern dinner plate.

Is Fat Phobia Wrecking Your Health

There are plenty of people out there who will tell you that coconut milk, and other coconut products, are bad for you. They say this because they’re fat phobic. They hold on to the flawed lipid hypothesis which suggests cholesterol and dietary fats are dangerous to human health. The reality is quite the opposite. It’s the new foods and low-fat dietary suggestions that are hurting us, not the natural fats found in plant and animal foods.

Welcome Back Real Foods

Coconut milk, water, cream, oil, avocados, nuts, and even animal fats, are essential to a healthy, balanced diet. People who consume these foods in moderation are lighter and healthier than those who choose not to.  Human beings have not evolved to eat so many carbohydrates. We certainly haven’t evolved to eat these new manmade creations. Plastic margarines, rubbery sausages and frozen, cardboard-like TV dinners are harming us big time. Nor is it natural for humans to drink skimmed milk and consume killer vegetable oils. It’s the typical western type diets that are causing so much damage, not the natural foods our ancestors used to eat. It’s fair to say that today’s dietary guidelines have, without any question or doubt, derailed human evolution [11].

Diet and Longevity

You may argue that we live longer today than we ever used to, and you’d be right. But we’re also sicker for a lot longer than we ever were. We’re definitely not healthier, and we’re certainly not thinner or more active. The reason for our decline is diet, pure and simple. We are what we eat, as the saying goes, and it’s true. That doesn’t suggest we should all walk around looking like supermodels of course. But many of us could certainly improve our BMI (body mass index) with just a few small adjustments to the foods we buy in. Anyone with an interest in good health and longevity (lifespan) has to get rid of fat phobia, and then introduce more real foods at the dinner table. This includes coconut milk and all the other products of this amazing tropical palm. The way forward is with more real foods and less grains and processed meals that so many of us have grown up on these past 40 plus years.

We have plenty of other useful articles on the site related to all things coconut. If there is anything you would like to add, please leave your comments below. Alternatively, you can get in touch using our contact page here.

Resources

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut
  2. http://www.ntbg.org/plants/plant_details.php?plantid=3054
  3. http://info.nihadc.com/integrative-health-blog/bid/71067/Understanding-pH-and-Why-Alkalinity-is-Important-to-Health
  4. https://www.reference.com/health/coconut-milk-laxative-810a3f9643dfe53b#
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614697/
  6. http://www.chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/Chronic_Joint_Pain.shtml
  7. https://medlineplus.gov/helicobacterpyloriinfections.html
  8. https://medlineplus.gov/pepticulcer.html
  9. http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/coconut_milk
  10. https://cookpad.com/uk/search/coconut%20milk%20drink
  11. http://nautil.us/issue/30/identity/how-the-western-diet-has-derailed-our-evolution
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About Coconut Health

Hi, my name is Susan and over the past few years, stories on health especially natural ways to heal have fascinated me. This site was set up to explore the research, stories and health possibilities of coconuts. Feel free to contact me if you have suggestions, questions or to tell me your story!