15 Reasons Why Coconut Milk Is Great for Your Health
By Aylin Erman, EcoSalon
Coconut milk is a crucial part of a plant-based diet because it is a vegan replacement for milk that doesn’t require much compromise — it boasts a creamy consistency and a delicious taste.
Coconut milk is extraordinarily versatile and serves a variety of purposes in the kitchen. From breakfast to dinner and savory to sweet, coconut milk has a place in your diet. It is packed with vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6 as well as iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. And its benefits don’t end in the gut. Coconut milk makes for an effective beauty product as well. The following 15 uses for coconut milk are sure to convince you to make it a daily fixture in your life.
To prepare coconut milk, crack open a young Thai coconut, place the water and the scooped-out flesh into a blender and mix until smooth. If you are using a packaged version of coconut milk, make sure it comes in a BPA-free can or a milk box. Aroy-D and Native Forest Organic package coconut milk in a BPA-free can and Coconut Dream is a popular boxed brand.
1. Substitute for Coffee Cream
Nix the dairy and opt for a healthier, animal-friendly alternative. Use coconut milk to replace the cream you pour into your morning cup of joe, and you’ll get a boost of energy not just from the caffeine but also from the electrolytes provided by the coconut milk itself. Coconut contains potassium, sodium, magnesium and chloride, all of which help to keep the body hydrated and properly functioning. What more could you ask for at the start of a busy work day?
2. Braise Meat
Coconut milk may not be the first ingredient you associate with chicken and meat, but it actually adds a sweet, delicious touch to the meal. Mix about ½ cup of coconut milk into the liquid of braising meat or chicken and watch as the milk absorbs the flavors of the dish and makes for a creamy, full-flavored sauce.
3. Be Calm and Drink Coconut Milk
Coconut milk contains 89 milligrams of magnesium per cup, which makes it a rich source of a mineral that helps to calm the nerves and maintain normal blood pressure. Magnesium blocks nerve cells from becoming overactive by virtue of becoming stimulated by calcium. Calm nerve cells reduce contraction of muscles and make you feel more relaxed.
4. Build Strong Bones (Without the Dairy)
Coconut milk is not a good source of calcium. It contains just over 38 milligrams of calcium per cup compared to regular milk’s 300 milligrams in the same serving size. But while it may not be able to give dairy a run for its money in terms of calcium, it is a rich source of phosphorus. With 240 milligrams of phosphorus per cup, coconut milk contributes to strong bones.
5. Moisturize Skin
Whether ingested or applied directly to the skin, coconut milk is helpful in hydrating the skin and keeping it soft and smooth. Its fat content locks in moisture. Simply apply a thin layer of coconut milk to a cleansed face, let it sit for 15 minutes, and then rinse clean. Pat dry to reveal supple, soft skin.
6. Fight Infection
Coconut milk contains a fatty acid called lauric acid, which is quite valuable to the human body. When it enters the body, lauric acid is converted to monolaurin, which is a compound that has antiviral and antibacterial properties. For this reason, coconut milk consumption could fight infections and viruses.
7. Control Weight
Because coconut milk contains saturated fats, it is often shunned by dieters as a fattening agent. However, because of its fiber content, coconut milk makes you feel fuller longer and, in moderation, can help to control weight.
8. Maintain Blood Sugar Levels
Coconut water is a source of manganese, which is vital for regulating blood sugar levels. One of manganese’s most important functions is to help metabolize glucose in the human body. Manganese is also essential for metabolism function, treating inflammation, preventing osteoporosis, alleviating PMS in women, aiding vitamin absorption and maintaining the health of the digestive track.
9. Remove Makeup
Mix 1 part coconut milk with 2 parts olive oil and use the concoction as a gentle way to remove eye makeup and moisturize skin at the same time. There is no need for harsh, alcohol-ridden chemicals to get rid of makeup around the most sensitive area of your face. Coconut milk does the trick just right!
10. Lower Cholesterol
Despite its saturated fat content, coconut milk can actually help to reduce cholesterol levels if you are used to cooking with butter and dairy-based creams. The truth is, not all saturated fats are created equal. Coconut milk raises cholesterol levels, but its lauric acid boosts HDL (good) cholesterol, which improves the HDL-LDL (bad) cholesterol ratio. So while the better option may be to reach for an unsaturated fat, if choosing among saturated fats, coconut milk is the best of the bunch. The fats in coconut milk are also easier for the body to break down and metabolize and contain healthy fats including omega 6 essential fatty acids.
11. Prevent Wrinkles
Improve skin elasticity with the consumption or application of coconut milk due to its copper and vitamin C content. Copper and vitamin C maintain flexibility and elasticity of the skin and blood vessels, slowing the aging process of your skin and body.
12. Treat Sunburns
After a long day in the sun, it’s never a bad idea to continue the tropical theme, even in the form of a remedy. Apply a thin layer of cool coconut milk to the sunburned area and the coconut milk with soothe and moisturize the skin.
13. Get Baking
For those who have lactose intolerance or are opting for a more animal-friendly diet, try using coconut milk in place of milk in baked dessert recipes. While other nut milks on the market do a good job of replacing dairy milk, sometimes they have a watery consistency that does not to the dessert much justice. Coconut milk packs with it a viable bulk that can bring the decadence back to vegan baked goods.
14. Treat Arthritis
Coconut milk contains selenium, which is an antioxidant that relieves arthritis symptoms. Selenium controls free radicals and decreases the risk of joint inflammation.
15. Condition Hair
Benefit from the nutrients and fats in coconut milk with a hair treatment. Massage coconut milk into your scalp and use your fingers to brush the milk through hair strands. Once covering your hair and scalp, wrap your hair in a towel and let the coconut milk sit for an hour or two. The longer it sits, the more deeply the moisturizing and strengthening effects of coconut milk will penetrate. You could also warm the milk up prior to application to jump start the assimilation of nutrients.
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