Coconut milk is the generic term used to refer to the extract derived from grating the solid coconut endosperm. The thick consistency and rich taste, characteristic of coconut milk, occurs due to the high oil content. The oil content in coconut milk comprises a significant amount of saturated fat. Conflicting evidence from different research studies has been unable to answer the age-old question; is coconut milk healthy?
This article aims to deduce both positive and negative effects of coconut milk on the health of the body. The information aims to educate consumers on the health risks of the extract to enable them to make informed dietary changes.
Is Coconut Milk Healthy? A Nutritional Answer
Coconut milk is the term given to the liquid acquired through mechanical extraction of grated coconut meat; either mixed with water or not. It is a milky white emulsion that tends to separate into a heavy aqueous phase and a light cream phase.
- The main constituent in coconut milk is coconut oil; as it makes up about one-third of it;
- The oil consists of a considerable percentage of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs);
- 6% stearic acid;
- 7% oleic acid;
- 2% linoleic acid.
In response to the question is coconut milk healthy one would need to consider the constituents of coconut milk before deciding on whether to include it in the diet or not. For this reason, it is only prudent to consider both benefits and risks of coconut milk.
Foods That May Contain Coconut Milk
- Coconut cream;
- Ice cream;
- Coconut milk powder;
- Coconut sugar;
- Candy bars;
Is Coconut Milk Healthy? 6 Reasons Why It’s Not
1. Causes High Blood Pressure and Hypertension
Consuming foods rich in saturated fats has been shown to affect cholesterol levels negatively. The saturated fatty acids in coconut oil typically raise levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood.
LDL, typically referred to as bad cholesterol, tends to accumulate in the blood vessels forming plaque, a compound responsible for narrowing of blood vessels. Narrowed blood vessels result in high blood pressure. Therefore, hypertension occurs because of elevated blood pressure.
2. Causes Cardiovascular Diseases
For individuals who are susceptible to cardiovascular disease, it is essential to avoid coconut milk. Elevation of saturated fatty acids and LDL in the blood is known to cause heart complications and also exacerbate the risk of attaining a stroke.
Due to the narrowed blood vessels, the heart has a hard time pumping blood through the entire body system. An overcompensating heart is likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease.
3. Consuming High Levels of Coconut Milk Often Leads to Weight Gain
There are 552 calories in a cup of coconut milk.
Due to the high levels of saturated fats and calories present in coconut milk, it causes weight gain.
4. Coconut Milk Is an Allergen
For people who suffer from food allergies, particularly those related to tree nuts, coconut milk is one food to avoid. Coconut milk causes severe allergic reactions in such people.
The coconut oil allergies might be rare in the general populace, but it is imperative to observe caution. This is because, for such individuals, coconut milk allergies can be life-threatening. Some of the allergic reactions likely to occur due to coconut milk include anaphylaxis, hives, rash, or eczema.
5. It Causes Digestive Complications
It contains different forms of polysaccharides, key among them, guar gum. However, guar gum causes digestive complications in a majority of people. Therefore, for people who suffer from such problems, it is advisable to avoid coconut milk.
However, the gastrointestinal complications caused by guar gum are not severe, and a majority of people can tolerate them.
6. Leads to Bisphenol A Toxicity
Some canned varieties of coconut milk have bisphenol A (BPA), which is a chemical that leaches from the linings of packaging cans into the coconut milk.
Studies show that BPA is a causative agent for reproductive complications, as well as cancer if in high concentrations.
Is Coconut Milk Healthy? 2 Reasons Why It Is
- Contains essential nutrients: Coconut milk is loaded with vitamins E, C, and B. Research shows that vitamins C and E are essential in boosting immunity. Additionally, the vitamin B nutrients and their derivatives play a crucial role in repairing cells. Coconut milk is also rich in magnesium, iron, phosphorous, and potassium. Magnesium supports proper function of nerve cells, and iron is vital in red blood cell production.
- Antimicrobial properties: Coconut milk contains ample amounts of lauric acid. Also, lauric acid has antimicrobial properties that help reduce levels of bacteria and viruses in the body. Consequently, coconut milk can help fight both oral and blood infections. In addition to fending off bacteria, coconut milk can reduce inflammation.
To the Verdict
Overall, the question lingering in many people’s minds happens to be is coconut milk healthy? There are numerous conflicting studies on the effects of coconut milk. However, the research in this article has highlighted several key concerns in regards to coconut milk.
It emerges that coconut milk has a significant level of saturated fats. Moreover, saturated fats lead to weight gain, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases. However, it is for you weigh the benefits versus the risks and decide if it is worth including coconut milk in their diet.
Images from depositphotos.com.