Coconut milk is created from the grated meat of the coconut. It has a consistency and sweet taste that's similar to dairy milk; for those reasons, it's a popular substitute to traditional milk in ice cream, coffee and baking for those who choose a vegan lifestyle. The coconut palm is often referred to as the "tree of life," and the many nutritious benefits of coconut milk reveal why that nickname is appropriate. Discover how it can do great things for your body.
Coconut milk is an excellent source of iron. It has 22 percent of the daily allowance recommended by the Institute of Medicine. Iron plays an important part of transporting oxygen throughout your body, but a balance is important. Too much iron can cause free radicals to form, which may increase the risk of heart disease and cancer. Too little iron can lead to anemia.
Although coconut milk does have saturated fat, that is not necessarily a bad thing. The type of fat found within coconut milk can be very beneficial for your body. Unlike long-chain triglycerides, which are present in man animal-based sources, coconuts have vegetarian-sourced medium-chain fatty acids. Many of these fatty acids are recommended for their antimicrobial and antiviral abilities. Rather than storing them as fat, the body uses these fats for energy. Long-chain triglycerides are bad because they need to be digested by enzymes from the liver and take a longer time for your body to process. Medium-chain fatty acids can increase your metabolism and energy levels.
A study published in "Tropical and Geographical Medicine" examined the cardiovascular health of people in Sri Lanka who ate a lot of coconuts year-round as part of their diets. The study found no heart-related symptoms or diseases in the study subjects, even though many of them smoked regularly and were not particularly health-conscience. Studies conducted in other parts of the world have produced similar results.
Other Pluses for Your Body
The American Heart Association and the National Heart Foundation publish recipes with coconut milk because of its many benefits for the body. Coconut milk likely does not affect LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, levels, but it increases levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol. Coconut milk also helps your body by providing essential nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C, thiamine, pantothenic acid, niacin and vitamins K and E.
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Health Effects of Vegan Diets
- Shape: Crazy for Coconuts -- 5 Healthy Ways to Enjoy Coconut
- The Journal of Nutrition: Physiological Effects of Medium-Chain Triglycerides: Potential Agents in the Prevention of Obesity
- U.S. News and World Report: Do Coconut Oil and Coconut Water Provide Health Benefits?
- PCA Department of Agriculture: Study Shows Heart Disease Absent in Coconut-Eating Population
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada Offer Up-to-Date Guidance on Dietary Fat
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron
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