Coconut milk is a white substance that is extracted from the flesh of mature brown coconuts. It has been used for years as an ingredient in desserts, soups, and sauces. It is a popular component of Indian, Thai, Hawaiian and South American cuisines.
The process of extraction involves grating the fleshy part of the fruit and soaking it in hot water. The cream that forms on the surface of the liquid is collected to be used as coconut cream while the remaining liquid is then sieved and separated from the pulp to obtain the coconut milk. Nowadays, you can simply buy this product off the shelf in any department store.
Here is a list of other health benefits of coconut milk:
1. It aids in weight loss
Coconut milk is rich in short and medium chain triglycerides that are considered to be healthy fats. They prolong the feeling of satiety causing you to eat less and avoid giving in to cravings. In addition, they are more likely to be converted to energy as opposed to longer chain fatty acids. These are preferentially stored in the body contributing towards obesity.
2. It contains antioxidants
Coconut milk is rich in vitamins C and E that are well known for their anti- oxidant properties. Free oxygen radicals are formed by our body tissues during the process of metabolism. They are harmful to cellular components and contribute towards aging and tumor growth. Antioxidants contained in coconut milk help to neutralize these harmful substances.
3. Electrolyte balance
Coconut milk is rich in electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium and phosphorous. Potassium is important for maintenance of a normal heart rhythm. It is also crucial for healthy muscle functioning. Magnesium is required for a healthy immune system as well as maintenance of normal nerve and muscle function. Phosphorus is a vital structural component of bones and teeth. By adding coconut milk to your recipes, you ensure that the body has enough supply of phosphorous to meet these requirements.
4. Prevents heart disease
Coconut milk is known to increase the levels of HDL cholesterol in the body. Scientific research now shows that coconut milk may help to reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in the body if consumed in low quantities. HDL cholesterol has anti-inflammatory properties that protect the endothelium or blood vessel lining. LDL cholesterol, on the other hand, promotes the formation of plaques in blood vessels causing pathological narrowing. When blood vessels supplying the heart muscles are narrowed, heart attacks can result.
5. Strengthens the immune system
Coconut milk contains lauric acid that is known for its antiseptic properties. It assists the body in fighting infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi. A study done in The Philippines showed that children with pneumonia responded faster to treatment with antibiotics and coconut milk compared to those who were treated with antibiotics alone.
6. Prevention of anemia
Coconut milk has significant quantities of iron. Iron is an important mineral in the formation of healthy red blood cells with normal hemoglobin levels. Incorporating coconut milk into your diet will help you avoid anemia that often results from inadequate iron intake.
7. Healthy hair and skin
Recently, coconut milk has gained popularity for its use as a conditioning treatment for healthy hair. Its high-fat content acts as a sealant for moisture retention. When applied to the scalp, coconut milk helps to reduce dandruff and scalp itchiness. This is because it contains lauric acid that has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Coconut milk when applied topically on the skin helps in maintenance of the skin’s elasticity. This effectively reduces wrinkle formation giving you a more youthful appearance. Its antibacterial properties are said to contribute towards acne prevention. Women across the world now use this product for make-up removal.
8. Anti-inflammatory properties
Coconut milk aids in the reduction of joint pain and inflammation. Sugar is known to be pro-inflammatory. Substituting it for coconut milk as a sweetener can have remarkable results for those suffering from autoimmune inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus arthritis.
9. Promotes gastrointestinal health
Coconut milk is a healthy substitute for individuals that are lactose intolerant. In addition, it contains Zinc, a mineral that aids in the renewal of the cells that line the intestinal wall. This prevents the translocation of harmful bacteria from the intestinal lumen into the blood stream and reduces the incidence of diarrhea.