Sipping on coconut milk might please your taste buds -- it's naturally sweet and packed with all kinds of nutrients -- but your waistline probably won't love it. This creamy beverage is full of calories and fat, so add it sparingly to mixed drinks, smoothies, bowls of oatmeal or recipes. You can still get the coconut flavor you crave without going overboard on fat and calories.
Amount of Fiber
Coconut milk is one of the few liquids that contain a high amount of fiber. This occurs because coconut milk is made by grating the meat of the coconut and mixing it with the water inside. That grated coconut meat leaves fiber behind, something you won't get a lot of from coconut water alone. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 points out that you should get 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories in your diet. Each cup of coconut milk contains over 5 grams of fiber, which is 18 percent of the 28 grams of fiber you need for a 2,000-calorie diet.
Due to coconut milk's concentrated fat content, you'll get a lot of calories. One 8-ounce glass has over 550 calories. Nearly 515 of those calories, or 93 percent, are from the more than 57 grams of fat. You will get small amounts of protein and carbohydrates from coconut milk, too, although their content is minimal.
The Upside of Saturated Fat
Few plant foods have saturated fat, the kind that is linked with heart disease. Coconuts are one of them. Less than 10 percent of your calories should come from saturated fat, which is a maximum of 22 grams for a 2,000-calorie daily diet, notes the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. An 8-ounce portion of coconut milk has more than 50 grams, over double your daily allowance for 2,000 calories. The kind of saturated fat in coconut milk isn't all bad, though. Some of it is lauric acid. This substance may increase your high-density lipoprotein, says Harvard Medical School. Having a high HDL level can lessen your chances of developing heart disease. So consuming some coconut milk can be beneficial, although you should keep your serving size small since it is still high in fat and calories.
Coconut milk is rich in numerous minerals, giving you at least 10 percent of your daily recommendation of several types. You'll get lots of iron to help with oxygen transportation to cells, in addition to hearty amounts of bone-building minerals -- magnesium, phosphorus and manganese. Coconut milk benefits your overall health by giving you selenium and zinc to improve immune functions. You won't get high levels of vitamins from coconut milk. It does contain small amounts of B vitamins to support your metabolism and give you energy, in addition to vitamin K for blood-clotting processes. Coconut milk offers some vitamin C and vitamin E, nutrients that safeguard cells and get rid of free radicals.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Coconut Milk, Raw (Liquid Expressed From Grated Meat and Water)
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- Harvard Medical School: Listing of Vitamins
- Harvard Medical School: Ask the Doctor: Coconut Oil