a fantastic byproduct from the fruit of the classic coconut tree (Cocos nucifera). The term is derived from the 16th-century Portuguese word ​coco​, meaning “skull” after the three dimples in the coconut’s shell that resemble a human face.
Coconut milk and coconut water are two very separate things. While coconut water is the liquid inside of a coconut, coconut milk comes from the fruit’s white flesh and can be thick or thin in consistency, but is often marketed as a thicker substitute for cows milk.
To “milk” a coconut, the sweet white flesh of mature coconuts is grated, shredded, then squeezed through an industrial-sized cheesecloth to extract the liquid. The thickness of the milk is due to the high-fat content, which is a fantastic health benefit. Thinner coconut milk comes from the previously squeezed coconut flesh left inside the cheesecloth, which is then combined with other batches, rehydrated, and pressed again.
But what exactly is in this nectar that is so good for you?
It Help’s Facilitate Weight Loss
What’s that? A product high in fat can help facilitate weight loss? According to Medical News Today, Coconut milk contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which researchers have linked with weight loss because they stimulate energy through a process called ​thermogenesis​, or “heat production”. According to studies done at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, when your body experiences thermogenesis the heat that it produces directly correlates to calorie deficits which is what your body requires to lose weight. In layman’s terms, Coconut milk is a natural pre-workout!
Some studies also indicate that MCTs work to balance out unstable gut microbiota as well as reduce body weight and waist size. A 2015 study found that in overweight men consuming MCTs at breakfast led to reduced food intake later in the day, which makes sense because foods high in fat can help a person feel fuller longer. In addition to that, findings of a 2018 study suggest that MCTs help better regulate insulin which is a well-known factor in weight loss.

It Can Help Your Heart!
A lot of our diets today are “rich” in saturated fat and high cholesterol. This sort of diet has been long assumed to increase the risk of heart disease, which is why introducing “good fats” is so crucial to heart health! Now while coconut milk ​does​ contain some saturated fats, there is a surprising “other side” to that coin. According to one study done by the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, scientists found that coconut oil did not significantly increase levels of “bad cholesterol,” or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, but that it did increase levels of “good cholesterol,” or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL).
One thing to be aware of is that while it can help your heart, you probably shouldn’t guzzle coconut milk. In its natural state, there are relatively low levels of sugar, but if you’re not careful when you shop, you might pick up a brand that adds sugar to the milk to make it sweeter and this excess sugar can negate the health benefits you’re hunting for even though the flavor won’t be ​as​ sweet as you might wish it were.
Offers a Non-Lactose Alternative to Cooking
Sometimes, for better or worse, milk from the animal kingdom just doesn’t sit well in our guts. Coconut milk provides an excellent alternative to put in recipes and is a staple base in many Caribbean, West African, Asian, and Latin American dishes. 26 recipes utilizing coconut milk can be found ​here ​https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/can-coconut-milk-recipes/if you’re looking for inspiration!
There are some very distinct differences between the two types of milk obviously, and when making healthy choices in what you put into your body you need to know what your body needs. For instance, while it is lactose-free, coconut milk contains no protein. This is important if you need to pay attention to the protein in your diet. Compare that to about 8 grams per serving with cow’s milk. Coconut milk is also very low in carbohydrates which is fantastic for those of us trying to stay in a ketogenic state, while milk has about 12 grams of carbohydrates per serving in the form of the aforementioned lactose, or milk sugar.
Coconuts have provided a sustainable source of food and energy for millions of people in the tropics for thousands of years, and today they are a great import to those of us who don’t live in places that can grow them. In addition to the milk, coconuts provide a ton of green products including sugar, fiber materials, and even vinegar. The sustainable nature of the trees also makes using coconut products, like milk, a fairly sustainable alternative to traditional dairy farming. The milk can be used to help boost your health-conscious lifestyle, or just jazz up an old recipe. This palm tree fruit is the savior for those of us who can’t digest lactose and a refreshing pre-workout for those of us trying to limit our sugar intake. So grab yourself a can, a jug, a bottle, whatever floats your boat, and enjoy natures bounty!