Coconut milk is the term used for the liquid that is found inside the meat of mature coconuts; if you process the meat and strain it, the product is coconut milk. This is not to be confused with coconut water, which is the liquid easily obtained from opening a fresh, mature coconut. The “milk” is full of nutrients that provide the body with a wide array of benefits.
Health Benefits of Coconut Milk
Here you will find a brief description of some of the benefits that coconut milk has to offer, as well as a guide on how to make it yourself.
1. Supports a Healthy Heart
Thanks to the high levels of lauric acid found in coconuts, the milk makes it a natural remedy for lowering both blood pressure and cholesterol. Coconut milks also helps to keep the blood vessels flexible, which is important in preventing plaque buildup and blockages.
2. Improves Digestion
Coconut milk helps to keep your digestive tract well hydrated, which in turn reduce constipation and keeps things flowing smoothly. Coconut milk is also very soothing for the digestive tract and can alleviate issues such as irritable bowel syndrome. Consuming coconut milk can also help prevent ulcers.
3. Increase Muscle, Decrease Fat
Studies have shown that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) found in coconut milk can help improve physical performance. This means that coconut milk can help your body repair tissues post-workout (and thus improve the strength and appearance of muscles). Although it is relatively high in calories per serving, coconut milk is also very filling and full of healthy fats (similar to peanut butter or avocado), which helps you to feel full without overeating.
4. Prevent or Control Diabetes
Because coconut milk is rich in healthy fats, it helps to slow down the rate at which sugar is released into the bloodstream. This, in turn, help to control insulin levels and prevent sugar highs and reducing your risk of diabetes. This also makes coconut milk an excellent substitute for sweeteners in many dishes.
5. Prevents Fatigue
Coconut milk is extremely rich in a variety of electrolytes, which can help prevent issues such as dehydration and diarrhea. These electrolytes are needed by your body, especially during the warmer months, to prevent exhaustion, cramps, decreased immunity, and more. The MCTs in coconut milk also provide your brain and body with a natural energy boost without any negative side effects.
6. Prevents Joint Pain and Inflammation
The MCTs in coconut milk reduce inflammation in the body, which is often a leading cause in the pain associated with arthritis. Another reason that coconut milk is an excellent substitute for sugar: sugar increases inflammation in the body, which can exacerbate pain and swelling in the joints, whereas coconut milk prevents this.
Making Coconut Milk
Now that you’re convinced to include coconut milk in your diet, you may be wondering how you can get the goods. While you can find high-quality coconut milk in the right store, you can make it yourself at home almost just as easily.
1. First, start off by buying some fresh, young coconuts (usually in the refrigerated section of health food stores). You can also purchase coconut meat that’s already been removed. You will hear the liquid moving inside the coconut, or see it in the cut meat, if it is fresh.
If you opted for the whole coconut, use a cleaver to crack open the nut; you can strain the coconut water and save it for later if you want.
2. Remove the flesh from the shell, either by carefully cutting it out, or by hitting the shell until the meat falls off.
3. Once you have your meat, rinse it well and chop it into small pieces.
4. Blend them along with about two cups of water.
5. Use a strainer to separate the milk from any flesh pieces left in the blender/food processor. Voila— there is your fresh-brewed coconut milk ready for use!
Alternative (Easier) Method
A simpler method is to grate dried coconut then use a cheesecloth to extract the milk. Whatever is squeezed out represents 100% pure coconut milk. Use it fresh in your cooking or refrigerate for later use.
All in All
Coconut milk has a wide variety of uses, and improving your health is among them. Try incorporating coconut milk into your diet on a regular basis, either as a substitute for coffee creamer or in your desserts, and your will be taking a powerful step towards improving and protecting your health.