There are two natural coconut beverages; coconut water and coconut milk.
They both have their own characteristics, nutritional value and uses.
I often hear people say ‘’I opened a fresh coconut and drank the delicious coconut milk from it!’’
I’m sure it was delicious, but what they drank was actually coconut water, not coconut milk.
So what’s the difference between coconut water and coconut milk?
Coconut water: this is the clear liquid found inside a young, green coconut.
Mature coconuts usually also contain coconut water, but the water from the young coconut is the most nutritious and tastiest one.
Coconut water is transparent and resembles regular water. It has a bit of a nutty taste with a hint of sweetness.
Natural coconut water is high in electrolytes, mostly potassium. It also contains other minerals such as magnesium and calcium.
Electrolytes are very important chemicals necessary for healthy functioning of cells, muscles, nerves and fluid levels.
Drinking coconut water helps prevent dehydration and supports the body’s natural detoxification process.
To get the full benefits of coconut water, it’s best to drink it fresh from the coconut.
If you buy commercially packaged coconut water, make sure you buy the healthy, least processed kind.
It should be natural, unheated, unpasteurized, not made from concentrate and free of chemicals, added sugars and flavors.
Coconut milk: this is the white liquid made from coconut ”meat”.
The growth stages of the inside of a coconut are;
2. water and jelly
3. (less) water and jelly becomes coconut meat.
Very young coconuts contain only water, then part of that grows into soft jelly. When they mature, the jelly goes from soft to firmer and finally grows into hard coconut meat.
Coconut milk is made from coconut meat of the mature, brown coconut. You blend the coconut meat with water or coconut water and then strain it.
This results in a creamy white liquid with a milky consistency.
It can be used in smoothies, curries, desserts and various other dishes.
As it’s dairy-free, it makes a great plant-based milk for vegans and people with lactose-intolerance.
Coconut cream is the thicker version of coconut milk. It is more concentrated and contains less water. It’s usually sold in cans and is a popular ingredient in desserts and recipes that require a richer, creamier ingredient than coconut milk.
It’s very easy to make your own coconut milk at home. Nowadays you don’t have to live in the tropics anymore to have access to coconuts; many supermarkets and most health-food stores sell them. Like with many things, fresh and homemade really is the best!
If you buy commercially sold coconut milk or cream, look for the most natural kind. Preferably organic, unpasteurized and without artificial ingredients, added sugars and flavors.
The nutritional value of coconut water and coconut milk
Coconut water contains more electrolytes and sugar, while coconut milk contains more MCT’s; healthy fatty acids. It is also higher in calories.
MCT’s are very healthy and support many important body functions such as the heart, muscles, skin, cells, bones and metabolism.
Part of the MCT’s are immediately used as an energy source, so unlike most other fats they don’t get stored as fat. Another part of them is converted into ketones which are literally brain food!
Our brain consists mainly of fat and needs plenty of good fats to function properly.
MCT’s also have strong anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-parasitic properties that help protect your body.
What can you use coconut water and coconut milk for?
Coconut milk and cream are great in both sweet as well as savory dishes such as soups and curries.
It’s very tasty in hot drinks, as a creamer for your coffee or to make hot-chocolate with.
You can also make delicious desserts such as arroz con leche de coco, avocado chocolate mousse and Thai coconut ice cream
More ways to use coconut milk.
Do you know these other edible coconut products?
14 delicious, healthy products made from coconuts