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Is Coconut Milk Bad For You?



Short answer

Coconut milk is a very versatile liquid that is used in many recipes worldwide. People that live in tropical regions are especially familiar with the health benefits of coconut milk which is high in good saturated fats, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and fiber.



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Long answer

Coconut water is the thin clear liquid that comes from the center of a young green coconut. Coconut milk on the other hand, is made from the “meat” of a mature coconut-which is the thick white fibrous lining within the shell.  The meat is ground and boiled in water.  This substance is strained through a cheesecloth.  The more you stain the meat and water mixture the thinner the viscosity of the milk.

There are some excellent health benefits of coconut milk.  One of the highlights of this milk is that it is high in good saturated fats called medium chain triglycerides or MCT’s.  MCT’s are easily digested and absorbed into the vascular stream.  They immediately go to the liver where they are used as fuel-helping the liver to produce ATP.  ATP is the ultimate energy source that will boost the body’s ability to increase metabolism, help cognitive function and improve weight release.  Because the MCT’s help boost metabolism and thermogenesis they are fat burners and less likely to be stored as fat.  MCT’s are an integral part of ketogenic and Paleo diets which put the body into healthy fat burning modes. 

MCT’s are also very friendly to the intestinal tract and have the ability to balance the intestinal flora.  They have natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic properties.  Many health professionals tout MCT’s as fats that enhance mood and help with hormonal balance.

Coconut is a source of antioxidants which assist in combating toxic free radicals that can damage our cells and DNA.  Unlike cow’s milk, coconut milk is cholesterol and lactose-free.  Coconut is heart healthy and can assist with improved cholesterol and blood pressure. It is a great vegan choice that is also gluten-free.

Coconut milk is a good source of fiber and vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6. Coconut also provides a good source of important minerals that include calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and selenium.

Coconut milk has many topical uses and can be massaged into the scalp to assist with hair growth (through follicle stimulation) and restoration of dry damaged hair.  Coconut moisturizes the skin and is used to help with the elasticity of the skin and to give it a healthy glow. 

When purchasing coconut milk beware of canned products that may contain BPA. These endocrine disruptors can have serious adverse effects on your general health.  Look for coconut milk in cartons or BPA free cans.  Also, check to see if the coconut milk has the thickener guar gum.  Some people can be very sensitive to this ingredient-causing GI upset.  The small amount of fructose in coconut milk may also cause some GI upset in sensitive individuals.  Your best bet is to make your own-all you need is the meat of the mature coconut, water and a cheesecloth

Possible short-term side effects

  • bpa packaging (endocrine disruptor)
  • sensitivity to guar gum
  • sensitivity to fructose
  • weight gain
  • digestive disorders

Possible long-term side effects

  • may contribute to type 2 diabetes

Ingredients to be aware of

  • bisphenol-a
  • sugar (fructose)


  • good saturated fat (mct’s) that fuel the liver
  • thermogenic (helps with weight loss and fat burning)
  • boosts energy and cognitive function
  • helps with mood and hormonal balance
  • low glycemic index
  • natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic
  • cholesterol and lactose free
  • soy free
  • heart healthy
  • vegan and gluten free
  • supports health cholesterol levels and blood pressure
  • good source of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and fiber

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)


  • Organic coconut milk
  • Dairy-free alternative
  • Gluten and soy-free
  • Kosher certified
  • Convenient pack of 6
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Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Dr. Becky Maes
Published on: 01-11-2018
Last updated: 12-01-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Dr. Becky Maes
Published on: 01-11-2018
Last updated: 12-01-2023

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