It’s not surprising to see some poor reactions in some people when coconut milk is mentioned. Many associate this particular milk with fat and worried their waistline would expand because of the fat content of coconut milk (Cocos nucifera). But is their fear really well-founded? What are the benefits of this natural plant-based milk?
It is true that coconut milk is high in fat, but it is not the unhealthy kind. Coconut milk is high in saturated fat especially lauric acid, the same type of fat that is also available in breast milk. When synthesize by the body, it produces high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or the good cholesterol as we call it, and help lower our risk of developing heart diseases and even stroke. Lauric acid also a medium-chain fatty acids, thus easily turn into energy, and quite potent in helping the body getting rid of viruses, bacteria and fungi. Apart from lauric acid, this refreshing plant-based milk is also rich in bioavailable omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. Our body is able to absorb and utilize more of these fatty acids from coconut milk than from other sources.
Coconut milk contains both phosphorus and calcium. We all know how important calcium is needed by the body to build strong and healthy bone. However, calcium alone is not enough, it is co-dependent with phosphorus for bone cells growth and development and to maintain the overall skeletal system health. There is a chance that coconut milk might help to prevent osteoporosis from happening.
High potassium level is also present in coconut milk. Vital in stabilizing blood pressure and internal fluid balance, potassium is needed to maintain healthy heart, kidneys and nervous system. Together with manganese that also exists in the milk, blood sugar level is maintained. The mineral also acts as electrolyte to transmit electrical charges for cell communication from central nervous system to throughout the body.
Drinking this natural vegetarian milk might help prevent anemia as it contains iron, assisting the body to build enough hemoglobin and act as oxygen carrier, supplying oxygen to all cells. Iron is present in muscle tissues too, providing them with oxygen for contraction and to ensure elasticity. It also provides adequate oxygen to the brain and helps prevent neurodegenerative diseases.
Interestingly, despite being rich in minerals, coconut milk does not contain too many vitamins, only vitamin C and E and B complex are present with quite high level of vitamin B3. Both vitamin C and E are antioxidants that protect the cells and tissues from oxidative stress. Vitamin C is essential in synthesizing collagen to strengthen and give flexibility to organs. Meanwhile, vitamin E helps protect the blood vessels and eyes from macular degeneration and other eye problems. Vitamin B3 lowers LDL cholesterol and increases HDL cholesterol, improve joint mobility especially those who suffer from osteoarthritis.
In many ways coconut milk is beneficial to our health. But like all good things, it needs to be consumed in moderation to get the most of its benefit.