If you’ve ever been in a situation where you wanted to reduce on lactose or animal-based dairy products, coconut milk has probably crossed your path at some point. It’s seen as a healthy replacement for regular milk in most situations, but is coconut milk really that healthy? We already know it’s high in fat and calories, but it also has loads of positives that should be taken into account when deciding whether or not coconut milk might be something good for your diet.
Dairy and Soy Alternative
Coconut milk is a perfect alternative for dairy-free and soy-free diets. No matter what your allergy or sensitivity, you’re probably going to be very safe with coconut milk. Even if nut- and grain-based milk aren’t something you can digest easily, almost no one has coconut milk allergies.
While coconut milk does have a lot of fats as we’ve mentioned earlier, this isn’t as bad as you’d think. The fats in coconut milk that come from the coconut oil in it, are plant-based fats. These kinds of fats don’t increase your bad cholesterol but your good ones, as they’re unsaturated fats known as “medium-chain fatty acids.”
Healthier Immune System
One of the things our bodies use to fight off viruses is known as monolaurin. It’s a chemical converted from lauric acid, which coconut milk (and oil) is full of. And next to fighting off viruses, it might even be an effective anti-bacterial agent. That essentially turns it into something your body can use no matter what illness tries to get you down.
High Caloric Content
Sadly not even coconut milk is perfect. We’d mentioned in the intro that it’s known for having a high amount of calories, but we didn’t exactly specify. Well, one cup of coconut milk would add up to 550 calories, which is about a third of what a grown man needs on a daily basis. That means that if you keep using coconut milk on a daily basis and don’t cut calories elsewhere, you’re probably going to start gaining at least a moderate amount of weight.
Loads of calories usually only mean one thing and coconut milk is no exception to that rule: high-fat counts. That same 550-calorie cup contains a whopping 40 grams of fat. While some of them – the ones coming from the oil itself – are plant-based and unsaturated fats, there’s also a very big amount of saturated animal-based fats in coconut oil. That means that despite increasing your good cholesterol, it most definitely will also increase your bad one.
Part of a Healthy Diet
By now it’s getting clear that coconut milk is not a superfood you should be basing your entire diet on. It’s healthy when used in moderation, but you have to be aware of its high calorie and fat content to avoid ruining your entire diet because you thought nut-based milk would make you worse off. If you’re going to use it, you need to keep an eye on your other calories and never solely rely on coconut milk for your milk intake. Combine it with nut-based, soy-based, or even animal-based milk products in order to get the positives without being hugely affected by the negatives. Another trick is to dilute the coconut milk with some water. If you’re lucky, your local store might even have some light versions of coconut milk that have a whole lot less calories. The most important thing here is that moderation will decide whether the positives or negatives of coconut milk will take over.