pressed Juicery almond milk is honestly our favorite store-bought nut milk out there, so, with the launch of the brand’s new coconut milk, you can bet we were first in line to get a guzzle.
Coconut milk’s texture is ideal for coffee, the fats are incredible for vital brain health (more on that below), and we’re basically bathing in the stuff from here on out. Here’s everything you need to know about how to use the creamy dream of a vegan milk alternative and all about coconut milk benefits…
All About Coconut Milk
Coconut milk comes from the white flesh of mature brown coconuts. Coconut water, on the other hand, comes from immature green coconuts — and the two are not the same! Unlike coconut water, coconut milk does not occur naturally in liquid form. The creamy and delicious drink we know as coconut milk combines the solid flesh on the inside of the coconut with coconut water.
As coconut milk contains the actual fruit of the coconut, it also contains natural healthy fats that are great for your brain, your skin and your metabolism. According to the pros, the highest-quality coconut milk is one that’s been cold-pressed, which means it’s only been lightly processed to remove certain bacteria but hasn’t been exposed to high levels of heat that could diminish the natural vitamin and mineral content.
Benefits of Coconut Milk
Healthy Fats For Energy. About half the fat in coconuts comes from a medium-chain fatty acid called lauric acid. Coconuts also contain small amounts of other medium-chain fatty acids, including capric acid and caprylic acid. According to functional medicine pro, Dr. Josh Axe, “lauric acid, [is] easily absorbed and used by the body for energy”.
Hydration Helper. Coconut water provides a higher concentration of electrolytes than coconut milk, but coconut milk contains coconut water, and it also provides important minerals that are essential for maintaining blood volume and preventing dehydration.
Brain Fuel. Coconut milk contains MCT (medium-chain triglycerides — learn all about it) which is a kind of fat that is processed by the brain as energy, “without even needing to be processed through your digestive tract with bile acids like some other fats,” says Dr. Axe. MCT has an unusual chemical structure that allows the body to digest the fats easily, turning them into fuel rather than stored fat. “the calories in coconut milk provide a quick and efficient source of healthy calories for the brain, which is actually primarily made up of fat and relies on a steady stream of it to function,” says Axe.
Lowers Inflammation. Coconut milk contains MCT which can help reduce inflammation in the body. MCT oil is also full of antioxidants which gives it the ability to help reduce disease-causing inflammation through the body.
Metabolism Helper. There’s some evidence that MCT may also benefit weight loss, body composition, and metabolism. MCTs process quickly in the body and can stimulate fat burning, metabolism and energy production. Some studies have found that eating MCTs on a regular basis produces improvements in body composition (ratio of fat to lean tissue) and enhances athletic performance. A study also suggests that MCTs improve insulin sensitivity, aid weight loss in those with diabetes and might theoretically be helpful for those who have trouble digesting fatty foods.
Heart Health. Coconut milk can benefit cardiovascular health. According to Dr. Axe, “coconuts’ fatty acids are primarily saturated fat, but don’t think these will raise your cholesterol levels and cause heart damage. Rather, they’re known to actually do the opposite. Coconut milk can help you lower cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure, and prevent heart attacks or a stroke.”
Good for The Gut. Coconut milk’s high concentration of electrolytes and healthy fats help nourish the lining of the digestive tract. As we all know, a healthy gut is essential for holistic health.
Vitamins + Minerals. Coconut flesh is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins C, E, and a whole bunch of Bs (B1, B3, B5 and B6) and essential minerals including iron, selenium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.
Boosts Immunity. Lauric acid, a healthy fat found in coconut milk, converts into a compound called monolaurin when consumed. This compound is known for its antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. With consistent consumption over time, loading up on coconut derived foods and beverages can help fortify the immune system and protect the body from infections and viruses.
The Coconut Controversy
Feathers have been ruffling since the American Heart Association released a controversial study last year about coconut oil. The surprising news that this beloved fat might not be as healthy as we previously thought had devotees panicked, confused and just plain bothered.
The study focused on saturated fats, but did not distinguish between saturated animal fats and saturated fats from plants. Research also shows that not all saturated fats are the same. The medium chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs) in coconut milk metabolize quickly into energy in the liver. It is thought that, unlike other saturated fats, MCFAs are less likely to be stored as fat. While research is still mixed, new studies suggest that the fats in coconuts and coconut products may not negatively affect blood lipids and heart health as was once thought.
The bottom line, of course, is that moderation is key, as with everything else.
How to Use Coconut Milk
Coconut milk can be used in the same way as any other dairy or non-dairy milk. The creamy texture and slightly sweet flavor lends itself well to all kinds of delicious applications. Below, we’re sharing a few easy and accessible ideas plus a few recipes you’re going to love…
Drink It Daily. We love to use coconut milk in our coffee, tea, matcha and smoothies.
Overnight Oats. The rich feel and light flavor of coconut milk is ideal for making overnight oats. We love using Pressed Juicery’s coconut milk in recipes like this these three from Purely Elizabeth — simply replace the almond milk with coconut milk and enjoy!
Swirl It Into Soup. Coconut milk is thicker and more cohesive than other kinds of non-dairy milk. This makes it perfect for adding a little to recipes for a luscious final touch. We love this creamy cauliflower soup recipe from holisic nutritionist, Holli Thompson.
Make A Dressing. Coconut milk is an ideal base for making a rich but dairy-free salad dressing. We love it on top of a bright citrus and avocado salad like this recipe here.
Quiche It. Integrative nutritionist Jennie Miremadi shared this recipe with us for a crustless clean quiche using coconut milk. Because of the coconut milk, the texture is so spot-on you won’t even miss the crust.
Calling All Curry. Traditional cuisines around the world use coconut milk for cooking. There are many different curry recipes that incorporate it for its creamy texture and cooling flavor. Try it for yourself in this simple halibut coconut curry recipe.
Granola Goddess. Pour a little coconut milk over your favorite grain-free granola for a balanced and gut-friendly breakfast on the fly. This homemade recipe is one of our favorites.
Bake With It. A little bit of coconut milk in baked goods adds extra fat, a delicate flavor, and eliminates the need for dairy. Sweet Laurel’s grain, dairy and refined sugar-free fresh fruit clafoutis is a one-pan knockout dessert, featuring coconut milk as one of the ingredients. Get the recipe here.