The Health Benefits of Coconut Milk
Last Updated: Oct 21, 2013 | By Jody Braverman
The Health Benefits of Coconut Milk Pacific Islanders call coconut the Tree of Life. Photo Credit Coconut image by Mario Ragsac Jr. from Fotolia.com
Coconuts and coconut milk have traditionally gotten a bad rap due to its high saturated fat levels. However, island populations around the world have used the fruit’s meat juice, milk and oil in everything from cooking to disease prevention. Furthermore, the unique fatty acids in coconut milk may aid weight loss, improve immune function, reduce heart disease risk and improve skin and hair health.
New research has revealed that not eating enough fat can actually make you fat. According to Bruce Fife, N.D. in his article “The Fat that Can Make You Thin,” people who include more healthy fats in their diet, such as the medium-chain triglycerides in coconut milk, eat less than those who don’t get enough fat. While all fats help the body feel full and satiate the brain receptors that control appetite, the fat in coconut milk may increase metabolism and perhaps increase weight loss on a reduced-calorie diet.
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Immune System Health
Coconut milk contains lauric acid, antimicrobial lipids and capric acid, which have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. The body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which may fight the viruses and bacteria that cause herpes, influenza and even HIV. According to a study led by Dr. Gilda Sapphire Erguiza, a pediatric pulmonologist at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City, children with pneumonia who were treated with antibiotics and coconut oil benefited more than those taking the antibiotic alone.
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The medium-chain saturated fatty acids in coconut milk may also improve heart health. A study in “Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition” showed that Filipino women who ate more coconut oil had healthier blood lipid profiles, a major determinant of heart disease. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut milk may also kill the three major types of atherogenic organisms — bacteria that cause plaque formation in the arteries — that may lead to heart disease.
Healthy Skin and Hair
Coconut milk is highly nutritious when ingested, and these nutrients may help fortify and condition skin and hair as well. The fatty acids in coconut milk are a natural antiseptic and may help treat dandruff, skin infections, wounds and dry, itchy skin. Furthermore, the high fatty acid content in coconut milk serves as a natural moisturizer for healthy skin and may help repair wrinkles and sagging in aging skin.
15 Best Benefits Of Coconut Milk For Skin, Hair And Health
Saba on September 10, 2013
Coconut milk, as the name suggests is a liquid extracted from grated coconut. Don’t confuse it with coconut water as the latter is obtained from inside the coconut shells. Due to its rich and creamy consistency, it can be used as a milk substitute. In Southeast Asia, it is often used as a common food ingredient.
There are different grades of coconut milk depending upon its thickness. Thick milk contains about 20 to 22% of fat whereas thin milk has 5 to 7% of fat levels. Most of this fat is saturated fat. Thick milk is used in desserts and dry sauces whereas thin milk is used in soups and general cooking.
This milk is rich in vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 as well as iron, selenium, calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Thus, this sweet creamy liquid can be a part of a healthy diet and is a great option for those who are allergic to animal milk.
How to Make Coconut Milk at Home?
It is quite simple to make your own coconut milk. All you need is around 2.5 ounces of fresh grated coconut and 1 ½ cups of hot simmered water.
Place the coconut in a heat proof bowl and add hot water. Stir the mixture and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Placing a sieve or strainer over a large bowl lined with a double layer of cheesecloth, pour the liquid from the soaked coconut into the strainer.
Lift the cheesecloth and pull the edges together to squeeze out the coconut milk. This milk should be refrigerated.
Coconut milk is different from coconut water or coconut cream in the sense that they use coconut and water in 4:1 ratio whereas coconut milk uses grated coconut and water in equal proportions.
Coconut Milk Benefits
Coconut Milk For Health
Due to its rich array of vitamins and minerals, benefits of coconut milk for health are many and they are given below.
1. Strong Bones:
Although coconut milk does not contain as much calcium as regular milk (38 mg per cup), it is a rich source of phosphorus. It provides around (how much) milligrams of phosphorus per cup which contributes to strong bones.
2. Treatment of Arthritis:
Selenium found in coconut milk is an antioxidant, which relieves arthritis symptoms by controlling free radicals and decreasing the risk of joint inflammation.
3. Lowers Cholesterol:
Though coconut milk contains saturated fat, it can actually reduce cholesterol levels in comparison to butter and dairy based creams. This is because of its lauric acid boosts HDL (good) cholesterol. When choosing among saturated fats, coconut milk is preferable as it is easier for the body to break down and metabolize healthy fats such as omega 6 essential fatty acids.
4. Great Source of Magnesium:
Coconut milk is a rich source of magnesium, providing around 89 milligrams per cup. This mineral helps to calm the nerves and maintain normal blood pressure as well as prevent nerve cells from becoming overactive by virtue being stimulated by calcium. It results in the reduction of muscle contraction, thus making you feel more relaxed.
5. Aids in Weight Loss:
Coconut milk is often considered as a fattening agent due to its saturated fats. But it is also rich in fiber, which makes you feel full for a longer time and if taken in moderation, can help to control weight.
6. Stronger Immune System:
Coconut milk contains lauric acid, antimicrobial lipids and capric acid which possess antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. This lauric acid on entering the human body gets converted into a compound called monolaurin which is believed to fight the viruses and bacteria that cause herpes, influenza and even HIV.
[ Read: Tamarind Juice Benefits ]
Coconut Milk For Hair
Just like coconut oil, coconut milk can benefit your hair in many ways. It is often used in hair masks and fills up your hair with proteins. Thus, it offers the following benefits for your hair.
7. Nourishes the Hair:
Applying coconut milk on your scalp gives a cooling sensation. It nourishes your hair by giving natural moisture from roots to ends. You can apply some fresh homemade coconut milk and massage for three to five minutes. Leave it for 20 minutes and shampoo your hair as usual. This will boost the hair follicles and stimulate hair growth. This is particularly beneficial for restoring dry, damaged, weakened and brittle hair as well as split ends.
8. Prevents Balding:
Coconut milk used with some other organic compounds can be extremely beneficial for hair growth. For this purpose, you can mix around 50 ml of coconut milk with 100 ml of plain water and add a few tablespoons of camphor solution to the mixture. This mix is quite helpful for people with balding problems. Massage you scalp including the bald spots with this mixture and leave it for a couple of hours. Rinse off with warm water and placing a towel on your head, allow it to disappear naturally instead if rubbing your hair dry.
9. Hair Detangler:
Coconut milk acts as a natural detangler for your hair. All you need to do is rub some coconut milk while combing your hair on the tangles and comb right through it.
10. Great Conditioner:
Coconut milk is a great organic hair conditioner to provide you with longer and thicker hair. You can take equal amounts of coconut milk and shampoo in your hands and rinse your hair as usual. You can also use it as a leave in conditioner which gives added volume to your hair without making them greasy. Take a small amount of coconut milk on your palm and rub your hands together. Bend forward such that your hair is flowing towards the floor and rub the coconut milk on your hair from roots to ends including the underside of your hair at the nape of your neck.
[ Read: Aloe Vera Oil for Hair ]
Coconut Milk For Skin
Whether ingested or applied topically, coconut milk is great for your skin. It is rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and natural proteins which contribute to a smooth and radiant skin. The various skin benefits of coconut milk are as follows.
Due to its soothing properties, coconut milk is a great moisturizer that can replace moisture in dehydrated skin. Try adding a cup of rose petals, half a cup of rose water and a cup of coconut milk to lukewarm bath water. Soaking in this bath for about 15 minutes will help restore moisture to dry skin. You can directly rub coconut milk on your skin and leave it for 30 minutes to get absorbed. This will combat dryness and promote healthy and glowing skin. But make sure that you use fresh homemade coconut milk for this purpose.
12. Treatment of Sunburns:
Applying plain coconut milk is effective in treating sun damaged skin. All you need to do is apply a thin layer of cool coconut milk to the sunburnt area. The fats and oil in this milk help reduce redness and restore moisture to sunburnt skin. Applying coconut milk topically on the affected areas and leaving it overnight or bathing in it can ease the pain of burns or rashes caused by exposure to sun.
13. Anti-ageing Benefits:
Consumption or application of coconut milk improves skin elasticity due to its copper and vitamin C content. These nutrients slow down the ageing process of your skin and body by maintaining flexibility and elasticity of the skin and blood vessels. Thus, it prevents wrinkles, sagging skin and age spots.
14. Treatment of Skin Ailments:
Due to its moisturizing properties, coconut milk can soothe the symptoms of psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema. The natural fatty acids in this milk can help treat dry and irritated skin and remove harmful bacteria from your skin.
15. Make-up Remover:
Coconut milk can be used as make-up remover. You can mix coconut oil and milk in the ratio of 1:2 and use this concoction to remove eye make-up as well as moisturize skin. Thus, it is a great alternative for harsh alcohol ridden chemicals to get rid of make-up around the most sensitive area of your face.
So now that you know 15 most amazing benefits of coconut milk, why don’t you give it a try? Reap the wonderful benefits and don’t forget to share your experience with us. Stay healthy, stay fit!