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Coconuts have been grown in the tropical regions for more than 4,500 years; they are widely consumed for their flavour and potential health benefits  .
Coconut (Cocos nucifera) belongs to the palm family Arecaceae. It is one such fruit that is popularly consumed for its water and flesh. The fruit is also processed to produce coconut milk, coconut sugar and coconut oil.
Coconut milk, obtained from coconut, is said to have ample health benefits. It has gained popularity among the health-conscious people because it is an excellent alternative to cow's milk.
What Is Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk is made from the flesh of the mature brown coconuts. The milk has a thick consistency with a rich, creamy texture which is made by grating the flesh of the coconut and then squeezing it through the cheesecloth to extract the milk.
Coconut milk is high in various vitamins and minerals and it is recommended for patients who are lactose intolerant.
Nutritional Value Of Coconut Milk
100 g of coconut milk contains 94.57 g water, 31 kcal (energy) and it also contains
- 0.21 g protein
- 2.08 g fat
- 2.92 g carbohydrate
- 2.5 g sugar
- 188 mg calcium
- 0.3 mg iron
- 19 mg potassium
- 19 mg sodium
- 1.25 mcg vitamin B12
- 63 mcg vitamin A
- 1 mcg vitamin D
Health Benefits Of Coconut Milk
1. Aids in weight loss
Researchers suggest that coconut milk can help in losing weight as it contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Studies show that these medium-chain triglycerides work to lower body weight and waist circumference as compared to other fats. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that overweight men who consumed foods containing medium-chain triglycerides had a much lesser appetite in the latter part of the day  .
2. Strengthens immune system
Coconuts contain lauric acid, which is known to support the immune system. It has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and inhibits the growth of bacterial strains like Staphylococcus aureus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Streptococcus pneumoniae  . This, in turn, helps protect the body from various bacterial infections.
3. Lowers stomach ulcers
According to a study published in the Phytotherapy Research, coconut water has antiulcerogenic properties, which has the ability to reduce the growth of ulcers and decrease their size  .
4. Promotes heart health
Another benefit of coconut milk is that it aids in promoting heart health due to the presence of lauric acid in it. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that consuming coconut porridge lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol and increased HDL (good) cholesterol by 18%  .
5. Lowers blood pressure
The presence of essential minerals like potassium, sodium, calcium and iron in coconut milk can help in lowering blood pressure. It works by improving blood circulation and keeping the blood vessels relaxed and free from blockage  .
6. Manage diabetes
The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut milk can aid in slowing down the rate of blood sugar in the bloodstream. This prevents a rise in blood sugar levels, thus reducing the onset of diabetes  .
7. Prevents inflammation
The anti-inflammatory properties in lauric acid present in coconut milk can help in lowering inflammation associated with conditions like arthritis, muscle aches and pains  .
8. Helps in digestion
People who are intolerant to lactose can switch to coconut milk because it is less likely to cause indigestion. Drinking coconut milk also improves the growth of gut microbiota, thereby improving gut health  .
Possible Side Effects Of Coconut Milk
If you are allergic to coconuts, consumption of coconut milk can have adverse side effects. Consuming excess of coconut milk can cause weight gain as it's high in calories and fats.
Ways To Add Coconut Milk Into Your Diet
- Add coconut milk in your porridge and have it for breakfast.
- Use coconut milk in smoothies or protein shakes.
- Add coconut milk in soups, broth and curries to thicken it.
-  Menon, K. P. V., & Pandalai, K. M. (1958). The coconut palm. A monograph.The coconut palm. A monograph.
-  St-Onge, M. P., Mayrsohn, B., O'Keeffe, M., Kissileff, H. R., Choudhury, A. R., & Laferrère, B. (2014). Impact of medium and long chain triglycerides consumption on appetite and food intake in overweight men.European journal of clinical nutrition,68(10), 1134–1140.
-  Ogbolu, D. O., Oni, A. A., Daini, O. A., & Oloko, A. P. (2007). In vitro antimicrobial properties of coconut oil on Candida species in Ibadan, Nigeria.Journal of medicinal food,10(2), 384-387.
-  Nneli, R. O., & Woyike, O. A. (2008). Antiulcerogenic effects of coconut (Cocos nucifera) extract in rats.Phytotherapy research,22(7), 970-972.
-  Ekanayaka, R. A., Ekanayaka, N. K., Perera, B., & De Silva, P. G. (2013). Impact of a traditional dietary supplement with coconut milk and soya milk on the lipid profile in normal free living subjects.Journal of nutrition and metabolism,2013, 481068.
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-  Turner, N., Hariharan, K., TidAng, J., Frangioudakis, G., Beale, S. M., Wright, L. E., ... & Cooney, G. J. (2009). Enhancement of muscle mitochondrial oxidative capacity and alterations in insulin action are lipid species dependent: potent tissue-specific effects of medium-chain fatty acids.Diabetes,58(11), 2547-2554.
-  Calder, P. C. (2012). Long-chain fatty acids and inflammation.Proceedings of the Nutrition Society,71(2), 284-289.
-  Hristov, A. N., Vander Pol, M., Agle, M., Zaman, S., Schneider, C., Ndegwa, P., ... & Karnati, S. K. R. (2009). Effect of lauric acid and coconut oil on ruminal fermentation, digestion, ammonia losses from manure, and milk fatty acid composition in lactating cows.Journal of Dairy Science,92(11), 5561-5582.