Sunday, November 6, 2011

Coconut Oil Vs Coconut Milk by Laura Ng

What are the differences between coconut oil and coconut milk in terms of health benefits? How are they made that causes the difference?

To make coconut milk, you just add water to coconut cream concentrate (which you obtained from pressing fresh coconut meat) and mix them. When coconut cream dilutes, you get coconut milk. Since coconut milk is made from coconut cream, it's still considered a whole coconut as it contains all the nutrients that a coconut provides such as its natural sugar (carbohydrate), protein, oil (fat) etc.

What about coconut oil? Although you extract coconut oil from fresh coconut meat too, only the fat content is retained. Hence, you'll see virgin coconut oil having zero carbohydrate (no sugar) and zero protein on its label.

Does it mean you're getting fewer nutrients from coconut oil than coconut milk? In a way, yes. But coconut oil contains much denser medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) and the healthful lauric acid (that can also be found in mother's milk) which promote excellent health benefits for us. You can easily obtain your carbohydrate and protein intake from many other plant food sources. So, I don't see much issue with consuming only coconut oil.

But of course, I do recommend that you try to add coconut milk wherever possible if you feel you prefer coconut milk to its oil concentrate. For me, I take coconut oil more often than coconut milk or cream - I only use coconut cream / milk in cooking especially my favorite curry and few other select dishes, whereas I add the oil to my daily meal intake (I add it in my drinks and smoothie also) as well as using it in baking, stir-frying or sauteing. I also apply coconut oil on my skin every morning and night for facial and skin care.

In other words, coconut oil is more versatile - it allows you to use in various ways more than you can do with coconut milk (you can't apply coconut milk on your skin and leave it overnight while you sleep, its mild sweetness may attract ants).

In a nutshell, you get additional carbohydrate, protein and other nutrients from coconut milk, but you're getting an abundant supply of other fat-soluble nutrients and more health-boosting MCFA and lauric acid from coconut oil concentrate. By the way, some people are allergic to coconut milk but not the oil. So, which would you choose?