Coconut Milk: A Healthy Alternative

Coconut Milk Now on Supermarket Shelves

Girl_Drinking_Coconut_MilkHave you noticed that the dairy section has exploded with new choices? For years cows milk shared the refrigerated section with it’s lonely companion, soy milk. Now almond and coconut milk has burst onto the scene. If you’re dairy intolerant, this is definitely good news. Many new diets have touted its benefits. Several of my clients have made the switch with great weight loss results. So, I thought I’d share some of the health benefits of coconut milk.

Good for the Brain

Kieran Clarke, head of the Cardiac Metabolism Research Group and professor of  physiological biochemistry at Oxford University, believes there’s a connection between coconut oil and improved brain function. Professor Clarke is an expert on the way the body makes and uses energy. As explained in an article about an Alzheimer’s patient, here’s how the connection works:

Most of the time our brains rely on glucose from carbohydrates, but if that isn’t available — because we haven’t eaten anything for a while or because we’re eating almost no carbohydrates — then our brain cells can switch to using the energy from our fat stores.

This energy comes in the form of small molecules called ketones. As Professor Clarke explains: ‘Coconut oil contains a lot of a particular sort of fat that our bodies can use to make more of the ketone “brain food.” It’s known as MCT (medium chain triglycerides) and it’s not found in the fats most of us eat.Coconut tree

Choose Unsweetened Coconut Milk

When buying a coconut milk, look for unsweetened. This is not the same as coconut water, which is also a very popular substitute for sodas or sugary drinks. I advise my boot camp and personal training clients to stay hydrated. I suggest reaching for plain water first.

Coconut milk can be found in the refrigerated section or where other milk alternatives are stocked. There are two major brands — So Delicious and Silk. Even Trader Joe’s has their own version. Check the labels for the calorie content. Many cartons make it easy by putting the number right on front. 45 calories a cup seems to be the lowest available, and most don’t have added cane sugar. There are conflicting reports on the impact on cholesterol. So check with a licensed dietitian or your doctor to figure out what’s best for you.

Other Health Benefits

Here are some other health claims linked to coconut milk and oil:

  • Rich in lauric and caprylic acid which are powerful fatty acids that have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral effects
  • High in medium-change triglycerides which has been linked to burning fat
  • Cooks at a high heat without damaging its healthy properties

How do you use coconut milk in a healthy diet? Let me know if you’re interested in coconut-related recipes!

Committed to your success,



Image Credits:

Girl Drinking Coconut Milk

Coconut Tree