Milk and other dairy products are unfortunately not Paleo appropriate. As a result the search is on for a Paleo friendly dairy substitute. One of the most commonly thought of dairy substitutes is coconut milk.
The exact origin of the coconut plant is confusing as the coconut itself can float and has been thought to have spread with sea currents and seafarers. Researchers currently suggest Malaysia as the most likeliest origin. The actual word coconut dates back to the 16th century, ‘coco’ meaning grin in Spanish or ‘monkey face’ in Portuguese (1)
Did you know? The coconut is actually not a nut at all, but rather belongs to the drupe family.
If you’ve ever opened a coconut yourself you will know that it is filled with a sweet, water like liquid called coconut water. This is not the same as coconut milk which is actually man made. Coconut milk is made from blending the coconut water and the edible part of the coconut.
Coconut milk is one of the least expensive, most delicious and easy to source dairy alternatives. Of course the most important benefits are the benefits associated with the milk. (Aside from feeling like you are on a tropical island sipping a Pina colada)
Health Benefits of Coconut Milk
Full of Vitamins and Minerals
Coconuts are one of natures incredible superfoods in that they provide us with a whole range of the good stuff.Not only are they rich in fibre, but also packed with a range of B vitamins and minerals such as iron, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium.
Just 100ml of the coconut milk give us (2):
15g Fat (13.2g saturated)
Suitable for Allergy Sufferers and Vegans
Of course nut milk initially come to mind when we speak about dairy substitutes but coconut milk give us the added advantage of being safe for tree nut allergy sufferers as well
Note: speak to your allergist before adding it to your diet
Full of Good Fats
Coconuts supply the body with a healthy dose of fats, mostly in the form of medium chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs). The incredible thing about MCFAs is that they are metabolised in the liver and are therefore less likely to be stored as fat in the body.
Immune Boosting Properties
So not only do you receive fibre, vitamins and minerals and a healthy dose of good fats but this delicious product may also protect our body from infections and viruses.
So we know it is good for us but is it Paleo?
The good news is that even though coconut milk is essentially ‘man made’, it is still made from only the coconut and this makes it Paleo appropriate.
Any things to watch out for?
Aside from the incredible statistic that over 150 people per year die from a coconut on their head the negative side effects are few and far between (3)
If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) it is best to assess your tolerance for coconut milk as it has been known to be an irritant for some.
Be aware that certain tinned products and not only plastic may contain the dreaded Bisphenol-A (BPA). In foods which are either acidic or fatty, BPA has been know to leach the product which obviously raises our exposure to it. Even though the research surrounding BPA is not yet conclusive it is best to act with caution as it is an unnatural chemical (4).
Finally, not all store bought coconut milks and coconut creams are created equal. Unfortunately as with many products available in supermarkets it is necessary to read the label to avoid low quality products. Watch out for fillers, thickeners and stabilisers which are often added to stop the fat separating out of the coconut milk. The only two ingredients should be water and coconut.
To make sure that the coconut milk you are using is completely Paleo, and that you are not exposing yourself to unwanted chemicals rather make your own milk. It is incredibly easy to make your own. That way you can ensure that you know exactly what has gone into your milk.
Try these incredible Paleo chicken recipes containing the delicious coconut milk.