Types of Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is made from the meat of the mature coconut. There are two basic types of coconut milk: thick and thin. Thick coconut milk is the first liquid that is taken by squeezing coconut meat through cheesecloth. The previously squeezed coconut meat is then soaked in warm water and squeezed a second and third time to produce thin coconut milk.
For those living in areas where coconuts grow and are used every day the difference between thin and thick coconut milk is important. It is less so if you buy coconut milk in a can. Usually canned coconut milk is a mixture of both thick and thin coconut milk. If a can of coconut milk is opened and left to sit the two types of coconut milk separate – the thicker coconut cream floats to the surface and can be scooped off.
In Thailand, Polynesia and the Caribbean thick coconut cream is often used to make dry sauces and for desserts. Thick coconut milk is sometimes referred to as coconut cream when it is used for sweet dishes. Thin coconut milk is frequently used for soups and wet sauces.
Health Benefits of Coconut Milk
Coconut is very good for your health. It can be used by people with lactose intolerance as a substitute for milk. Coconut milk is also popular with vegans. It makes a great base for smoothies and can also be used as yoghurt. It tastes delicious with fruit and muesli.
Coconut milk has a slightly sweetish taste and has just the faintest aroma of coconut. It has a 17% fat content. The fat is mostly lauric acid which is a medium chain fatty acid that is much easier for the body to break down and metabolize than long chain fatty acids found in such fats as sunflower, soy and safflower. Lauric acid is remarkable in that it is antimicrobial, anti fungal and anti protozoal. Thus drinking coconut milk helps to protect the body from infections and viruses. As with coconut water, coconut milk can be taken as a daily health supplement.
Another benefit of coconut milk is that although it is a yoghurt and milk substitute it doesn’t go off quickly. Coconut milk contains anti-oxidants that stop it going rancid. An unopened can of coconut milk won’t go bad for many months. If it is opened and has an inconsistent thickness that is because the thin and thick milk has separated, not that it has gone off. This consumer problem is solved by some brands by adding thickening agents.
Antioxidant Properties of Coconut Milk
Not only is the antioxidant quality of coconut milk useful for storage it is also important for health. It means that after you eat coconut milk it doesn’t go rancid in your stomach. This is the opposite of low fat spreads and margarine that contain polyunsaturated fats that quickly go bad, even before it has passed through the human digestive system. There are long term health implications of having rancid material in the body.
Fight Lipid Disorders
Regularly drinking coconut milk either in smoothies, desserts or in other foot items helps to maintain a balance of lipids in the body. Thus coconut milk is a good medicine against hyperlipidemia – the condition of too much cholesterol in the body. Hyperlipidemia causes coronary problems, strokes and other vascular disorders. The Indians in their traditional medicine called Ayurveda consider coconut milk a very important medicine. (ref: Wikipedia)
Coconut Milk as Substitute for Dairy Products
Finally, coconut milk is a good source of vitamins and minerals. It is considered a good replacement for dairy products because it contains high levels of calcium that are needed to keep bones healthy. It also contains potassium and other important minerals.
Coconut milk tastes like it should be bad for you because it is rich and delicious. It can be taken in many different ways. It might contain saturated fat, but coconut milk is very good for you.