Cow’s milk is not keto-friendly because of the high amounts of lactose, a carbohydrate, that it contains. In addition, milk can trigger an allergic reaction in lactose-intolerant individuals and should be avoided.
Not all milk is keto-friendly. Low-carb diets allow for high-fat and low-carb dairy products that will not kick you out of ketosis. Products like cheese, heavy cream, butter, plain Greek yogurt, and unsweetened ice cream are allowed on the keto diet.
But what happens when keto dieters seek alternatives to cow’s milk for their keto-friendly recipes? There are low-carb milk alternatives they can use that will help their bodies achieve and stay in ketosis. Vegan recipes can also benefit from these dairy-free substitutes. Dairy-free and gluten-free milk alternatives include tree nut milk, nut milk like almond milk, and seed milk like hemp seed milk which are high-fat, low-carb options on a keto diet.
In today’s article, we will focus on fresh coconut milk, and answer a few of your questions surrounding it concerning the keto diet. Is coconut milk keto-friendly? What are its nutrition facts? Are there benefits of consuming it? How many carbs are in coconut milk?
What is Coconut Milk?
Fresh coconut milk is the white creamy liquid you get from blended or pureed and pressed flesh from mature coconuts. How does it differ from other coconut products?
- Coconut water: clear liquid found in coconuts.
- Coconut milk: white liquid made from soaking coconut flesh in water and squeezing it.
- Coconut oil: a white solid pressed from coconut milk and meat.
- Coconut cream: a thick layer of cream obtained from skimming fat off frozen coconut milk. It has a similar texture and consistency as condensed milk.
Full-fat coconut milk is used in soups, smoothies, low-carb baked products, and coconut milk beverages like coffee, ice cream, and dairy-free yogurt. It can also be used to make coconut cream, simply refrigerate it overnight and scoop the top layer of cream. Remember, unsweetened canned coconut milk is your best option for a tasty twist in your meals.
How Many Carbs are in Coconut Milk?
The keto diet restricts carb intake to 20g-50 g of carbs per day. Therefore, knowing the carb content of your keto foods is important to ensure you do not exceed your carb limit. The net carbs in a food, that is the number of digestible carbs, will influence how much and how fast your insulin levels will rise after consuming a certain serving size of food.
Understanding how many carbs are in coconut milk will enable us to know whether it is keto or not.
Coconut Milk Nutrition Facts
According to the USDA, one cup contains:
- Energy: 445 kcals
- Protein: 4.56 g
- Total carbs: 6.35 g
- Dietary fiber: 0 g
- Net carbs: 6.35 g
- Total fat: 48.1 g
- Saturated fat: 42.7 g
- Monounsaturated fat: 2.05 g
- Polyunsaturated fat: 0.527 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
From coconut milk nutrition facts, you can tell that it is low carb and high in saturated fats.
Is Coconut Milk OK in Keto?
Yes, fresh coconut milk is keto. However, not all varieties of are keto-friendly. Full-fat and unsweetened coconut milk are low in net carbs so can be consumed by keto dieters. Some types of the canned varieties contain added sugar which increases your carb intake and kicks you out of ketosis. Read the labels on your canned products to see if any added sweeteners can increase your carb intake.
Unsweetened coconut milk and other products contain low amounts of carbs in their regular serving size making them okay to consume on the ketogenic diet. Besides the carb content, coconut milk is high in fat which helps maintain ketosis.
Fats in Coconut Milk
Coconut milk’s high-fat content is attributed to its rich saturated fat content. For years saturated fat intake has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, but recent studies show otherwise. The American Heart Association recommends that only 5% to 6% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat.
It’s not mostly about the number of saturated fats but rather the quality. Milk from palm fruits contain good kind of saturated fat, the healthy fats. Its content is 50% medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) and only 5% unsaturated fat content.
The MCTs include capric acid, caproic acid, and lauric acid. Lauric acid behaves like a long-chain fatty acid and takes a longer time to be digested and absorbed.
Health Benefits of Coconut Milk
What benefits do you enjoy from substituting your dairy milk with this tree nut milk?
Consumption can promote weight loss by:
Increasing Satiety and Reducing Food Intake
Caprylic acid and capric acid are MCTs that are absorbed directly by the liver for ketosis or energy production. This means they are less likely to increase your fat stores. They also increase satiety levels and reduce food intake helping you to lose weight. A study carried out in adult men to investigate the effects of MCTs and long-chain triglycerides on food intake showed that MCTs reduced food intake further helping with weight management.
Promoting Fat Burning
A study done to investigate the effects of MCTs on postprandial energy expenditure in premenopausal women concluded that consuming MCTs over a short period increases total energy expenditure.
Another study to assess the effects of medium vs long-chain triglycerides on fat oxidation showed that intake of MCTs increased endogenous oxidation of long-chain saturated fatty acids, further enhancing weight loss.
Its MCTs can promote satiety and increase fat oxidation but are in small amounts to have any significant effect on body weight.
Regulates Cholesterol Levels
Is coconut milk a good food for heart health? Despite its high saturated fat content, it can have numerous health benefits for your heart. One study investigated the impact of coconut milk and soy milk on the lipid profile of healthy individuals. The results showed a decrease in low-density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol) and a significant increase in high-density lipoproteins (HDL cholesterol) after consuming coconut milk-supplemented porridge.
An increase in good cholesterol levels and a reduction in bad cholesterol levels are what contribute to this milk’s health benefits to your heart.
Coconut milk contains phenolic compounds like vanillic acid, ferulic acid, syringic acid, chlorogenic acid, gallic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, and caffeic acid prevent oxidative damage on lipids and inhibit oxidative stress on proteins and DNA.
Virgin coconut oil from coconut milk had anti-inflammatory effects on edema and chronic inflammation by reducing granuloma formation and lowering transudative weight.
Antibiotic and Antiviral Effects
Lauric acid, the most abundant saturated fatty acid in coconut milk, has antibacterial effects on gram-positive organisms. In addition to lauric acid, other medium-chain fatty acids like capric acid are useful in fighting oral infections.
Despite the health benefits of coconut milk, some people may have allergic reactions to it. If you are allergic to other tree nuts, then your chances of having coconut allergies are high. This doesn’t apply only to the milk, but also to coconut cream and other products.
How to Incorporate Coconut Milk into Keto Recipes
How many carbs are in coconut milk? Its low-carb content makes coconut milk keto. But how do you incorporate this coconut flavor into your keto recipes? In which meals can use it in place of dairy milk? The best part about coconut milk is it is a versatile ingredient and is still delicious even without added sugar.
Coconut Whipped Cream
One way to make coconut milk keto friendly is by making coconut whipped cream as a substitute for heavy cream. Refrigerate your coconut milk with no added sugar, scoop off the cream at the top, and whip it using a hand mixer. Coconut cream is a great addition to savory dishes like soups and stews. It can also be used as a low-carb dessert option for chocolate mousse and coconut custard.
Coconut Flavored Ice Cream
If you are a sweet tooth and are trying to develop healthier eating habits, then this option is for you. Keto ice cream is one of the healthy recipes that do not use sweeteners like maple syrup or honey and doesn’t contain thickeners.
You can add low-carb sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit sweeteners to add flavor and a thickener like a guar gum that will not affect your blood sugar. You can add coconut milk, vanilla extract, almonds, or other nuts to make your cold delicious nutty treat!
If the recipe calls for the milk, you can also use coconut cream or heavy cream as a substitute. Try blending coconut cream and dark chocolate if chocolate ice cream is your favorite. Dark chocolate is allowed on the keto diet in place of the white varieties.
Coconut Coffee Creamer
If you think you are a coffee fanatic, wait till you add coconut milk or coconut cream to your black coffee or Espresso! Get your coconut milk or coconut cream, add a low-carb sweetener or vanilla extract, and stir to mix. This creamer is dairy-free, vegan, and keto friendly.
Your coffee is low in carbs but does not contain any fat, so the rich cream will be the right pump of healthy fats to enable your body to maintain ketosis. Your creamer can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks, and ensure you shake it before use because coconut milk is thick.
Which Has Less Carbs Coconut Milk or Almond Milk?
Although both are keto-friendly, a half cup of coconut milk or coconut cream contains 3.18 g of total carbs, while the same amount of almond milk contains 0.7 g of total carbs. Unsweetened almond milk has a lower carb content than unsweetened coconut milk. However, the latter has a higher fat content than almond milk. One-half cup of almond milk contains 1.79 g of fat while the same amount of coconut milk contains 24.1 g of total fat.
What Milk is Best on Keto?
Here are the best alternatives to cow’s milk while eating keto:
- Almond milk
- Coconut milk
- Macadamia nut milk
- Walnut milk
- Cashew milk
- Hemp seed milk
The carb content of some plant-based milk like soy milk and oat milk can kick you out of ketosis. These options are not recommended on a ketogenic diet because high intake of carbs may cause you to exceed your carb limit.
Is Coconut Milk Good for Diabetics?
Coconut milk has a glycemic index of 41 and a glycemic load of 4.81, this means that it raises blood sugar slowly making it good for diabetics. The glycemic index of cream, both heavy cream and coconut cream is 33 and the glycemic load is 1.3. Because of how many carbs are in coconut milk and cream, they are good options for diabetics.
In summary, coconut milk is keto-friendly and can be incorporated into keto recipes to trigger ketosis. Keep in mind that unsweetened varieties are a better choice the sweetened ones. Ensure you read the labels on your cans to know its carb content and confirm if it contains any additives that may increase your carb intake.
How do you incorporate coconut milk into your keto diet? Let us know in the comment section below!