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The Many Benefits of Coconut Water and Milk

Updated on November 21, 2011

Benefits of Coconut Water and Milk

The health benefits of coconut water and milk has been known to many cultures all over the world. Additionally, coconut is used in several Asian cuisines, as well as in the West Indies, West Africa and Hawaii.

Here, in the US, Americans are beginning to appreciate this very nourishing way to gain important nutrients. Coconut water is full of vitamins and minerals. The water is also full of electrolytes. It is recommended for women who are lactating, as it contains lauric acid - which is found in mother’s milk. It is also good for when you are ill.

While you can find it pre-packaged or pre-bottled here in New York City, you can drink it directly through the eye of the coconut. There will be three eyes on the coconut and one eye is usually soft enough to push a straw through.

However, it is not the watery part that coconut milk is made from. It is the white part, or the flesh that the creamy milk is made from.

To pick a coconut:

Shake it to see if there is any water left. If you hear water, the coconut is fresher.

Use the coconut water before opening it to make into milk or to shred it.

To open the coconut:

My father used to use a machete - and he opened it perfectly. But it is recommend that you either place it in a 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes, until the shell cracks. Or do what most people do and place it on a hard surface and hit it with a hammer.

How to tell if it’s fresh inside:

Creamy white flesh should be stuck to the shell walls. If the flesh is yellow, it is most likely rancid and should not be used.

If the coconut has fairly thin white flesh it can still be used but it may not be creamy enough to use in recipes. In this case you can add coconut fat.

To make your own coconut milk:

Score the white flesh several times with a paring knife, until the knife hits the brown shell. Taking great care, slide the paring knife under the flesh, pry it up and release the chunks from the shell. After all the chunks are removed, place the chunks in a blender with enough water to cover. Put the blender on ‘puree’ and add more water as the liquid thickens and the chunks reduce in size. Pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer, and press through with a wooden spoon. Add more water to this mash, and blend again. You may have to blend once or twice more until you get the consistency you desire.

Just as there is healthy cholesterol there is also good-for-you saturated fat, and coconut contains this naturally occurring saturated fat. This fat is beneficial, nourishing, easily digestible, and metabolized by the body - which then converts it to quick energy.

Further - almost 50% of the fatty acid found in natural coconut is lauric acid which is also found in mother’s milk. Lauric acid has been shown to encourage brain development and bone health.

Previous erroneous research about coconut oil:

At least 4 decades ago, faulty research claimed that the saturated fat in coconut oil raised blood cholesterol levels and caused heart disease. However, this study used hydrogenated coconut oil - and it is this processing of the oil that creates TFA’s (trans fatty acids) which are harmful and toxic to cell membranes; they block the utilization of essential fatty acids, and impede cell function. What does this mean?

It means that TFA’s lower the healthy cholesterol (HDL) and raise the bad (LDL) cholesterol. It is therefore, the TFA’s that cause the blood cholesterol to rise, not the natural substances found in coconut oil.

Lauric Acid Benefits:

Lauric acid has been shown to have an unfavorable effect on many microorganisms in the body including yeast, fungi, and bacteria. Further, it also has anti-carcinogenic and anti-viral properties. Because lauric acid has the ability to envelope viruses, researchers are investigating its usefulness for the herpes simplex virus, the flu, the measles, and other auto-immune diseases.

Coconut also has a small amounts of capric acid; this acid has been shown to stimulate antimicrobial action. Coconut has been proven not to cause heart disease. A diet that contains coconut provides many well being benefits and is an immune system booster.

For further information about healthy oils, including coconut oil, please see the resource links.

coconut water to enjoy
coconut water to enjoy

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    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks for the tip - I often have a problem doing this. My father used to use a machete.

    • profile image

      oddlycrunchy 5 years ago

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hi Victor - a known enzyme in coconut is lipase - which works to break down fat in the body. I think I am answering your question.

    • profile image

      Victor 5 years ago

      Thanks 4 d info,i now have a new orientation on coconut.pls what is enzyme responsible 4 converting lauric acid to monolaurin which has anti-viral effect.

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hi Rose - hope you found a way to work around that. Good food shouldn't harm you. Thanks for commenting!

    • profile image

      Rose 5 years ago

      I love it but it gave me the runs badly.

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hello Chris,

      I too have read a great deal of research about the amazing benefits of coconut oil used to treat psoriasis, eczema and other skin conditions and so much more.

      There are two popular doctors on the internet and TV who are considered somewhat alternative in their treatments and use natural products. This link refers to one:

      http://healthybodydaily.com/dr-oz-natural-cures/dr...

      The other is Dr. Mercola and a search of mercola.com and coconut oil for psoriasis will give you information.

      Here too is a legitimates site that will tell you that coconut oil is used for psoriasis:

      http://www.livestrong.com/article/219438-uses-of-o...

      Some sites suggests rubbing it directly on the skin for best results.

      Hope this helps you and your family.

    • profile image

      Chris 5 years ago

      I heard coconut oil was good for combating psariosis. Psariosis runs rampant in my family. Is there any truth to that? How would one use it? Thanks for any info.

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Sounds delicious Manoj Joy. Lucky you! Thanks for commenting and do come again. Yay!

    • profile image

      Manoj Joy 5 years ago

      I can drink upto 20 tender coco's,i love it

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I just can't imagine CJ, there being any harm in drinking fresh coconut water due to its many benefits. But what you buy in a can...not only is the taste awful but it's not as beneficial - especially since canned foods have BPA (Bisphenol A) linings. BPA is carcinogenic. If you make the milk yourself it would have many benefits. Americans too often buy processed foods thinking it would have the same benefits as raw foods which is not possible.

      Another benefit you will enjoy is the hydration. Hope you find it fresh where you are.

    • profile image

      CJ 5 years ago

      Will coconut milk/water help with the ulcers on one's mouth due to chemotherapy? Any "danger" in using it?

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You're welcome! Love the information Ria. What a pleasure to have real, and fresh coconuts - truly a super food. I know what you mean about the packaged stuff - here in NYC I've had some pretty awful stuff. Fortunately, I can find fresh ones although I doubt if the quality is anywhere near what you found.

      Yes, the comments are so great, including yours. Thanks so much. Yay!

    • profile image

      Ria 5 years ago

      I did my bachelors in south India and I used to have coconut water atleast two to three times every week. It was so cheap and easily available. It was like this perfect low budget super food. I love eating the flesh with jaggery (like maple sugar except that this is made of sugarcane juice). Coconut is used in almost every dish in Kerala (south Indian state) unfortnately they are cooked mostly. I tried this canned coconut water in Halifax, Canada, and sadly it tasted awful. I miss fresh coconuts. All the comments were very interesting and educating. Thanks!

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      My friend just picked up some coconut for us and we will have it later. It is so good and hydrating.

      Thanks for writing Nana ampofo, from Ghana.

    • profile image

      Nana ampofo 5 years ago

      I,m in Ghana and coconut here are very nutritious and cheap.

      At first I used to drink a lot of alcohol with friends but I,ve vowed never again to take alcohol so I,ve made coconut my favorite now and it,s really helping me alot.....

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You know Jules, I seem to have no energy - maybe it is time to get out there and get a nice coconut and enjoy the water. It would be great to use in a smoothie too. You've given me some ideas so this is on my list when I go shopping tomorrow - a great smoothie and use coconut water. I love to nosh on the meat.

      I do however have coconut oil and make sure I regularly use a bit even if it's just to throw it in the water after I cooked beans. The oil gives me energy.

      Thanks for commenting!

    • profile image

      Jules 6 years ago

      I've been using coconut water & meat in my smoothies as a base. Perfect breakfast food. Add some other fruits and greens, some protein powder. Mmm! And thanks for the info about coconuts turning bad. I have some occasionally with yellow-ish water and thin meat but still used them anyway since they didn't taste bad. And yes too bad the rest of the States hasn't incorporated more coconut in their food! It is a wonderful thing!

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I'm a big fan of coco water, aw. And the vita is pretty good. Thanks for your input!

    • profile image

      aw 7 years ago

      Its a known fact that coconut milk is good for you but also vita coco water is really good for you and tastes so much better.

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thank you Mark Moller. Right now in NYC we are in a brutal heatwave - 103 degrees again and with humidity rising. Fortunately, I have some coconut water which I just drank because I was getting a headache - no doubt from dehydration - I feel instantly better.

      Your comments are appreciated!

    • profile image

      Mark Moller 7 years ago

      I've heard about coconut water being great for you because of its hydrating effects and electrolytes but I was not aware of the difference in nutrients between coconut water and milk. Good to know thank you!

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I would love to enjoy the coconut as you are enjoying it pinkhawk - coco jam and over rice cakes - yum here too. Perhaps you'll write a hub.

      Yes, the coconut water has sustained me on my hot weather walks to work these last few days - and I feel good too. Water is just not doing it for me.

      Thanks so much for your comment!

    • pinkhawk profile image

      pinkhawk 7 years ago from Pearl of the Orient

      ...my mother always buy coconut (we called it "buko" or "niyog") and let us drink the coco water as juice or sometimes as replacement for water, it's great! She usually makes coco jam from coco milk and pour it as sauce to rice cakes, yum yum! thank you for the information here! useful indeed!^.^

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You know khristal123 - we have had some hot and super humid days here in NYC. I was walking to work, say 1 and 1/2 miles - and the only thing that kept me hydrated and feeling good...was the coconut water (plan water just seems to go through me). I just take a few ounces and sip as I walk - perfect.

      I hope you try it and like it. Fresh, is always best - but I can tolerate ones in those small sterile packs. But never in a can - ugh!

      Thanks for writing and great to meet you too. I'm already a fan!

    • khristal23 profile image

      khristal23 7 years ago from GA

      I have actually never tried coconut water and have been wondering about it. Thanks for this informational hub!

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Yikes! If it's not from a fresh coconut bonnie foreman - it may also be the processing and the container the water is in. I admit when I first bought it in a container I think I expected...well, I don't know what, but never in a can - that's awful. But now I enjoy it. And with the weather getting warmer and me walking great distances - it truly does hydrate me better than water.

      Maybe you can mix it with something like orange juice or pineapple juice. I've tried that just because I had both juices on hand and they seemed sooooo strong. The coconut water calmed them down.

      Thanks for writing!

    • profile image

      bonnie foreman 7 years ago

      Well I just brought some and it smells bad & taste like the bottom of a dirty fish tank smells, yak! Is it suppose to be like that people please let me know this is my 1st time of trying it, & is their any recipes I can make with this coconut water.

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Oooh great tip rick! Thanks for sharing that. Plus it smells so good - I'll pass this on. It's so nice to live in a natural world!

    • profile image

      rick 7 years ago

      My mom lived in kansas and arizona and always had calused dry cracked heal skin and found that regularly applying coconut oil totally got rid of the problem ....others have found it nice on elbows as well when they get dry and cracked in the winter time...

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks for the healthy comment, jguthrie1979!

    • jguthrie1979 profile image

      jguthrie1979 7 years ago from Bonita Springs, Florida

      healthy hub!!! nice!

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hello John, this is good to know about coconut water and IBS - thanks for that information! There is nothing like a personal recommendation.

    • profile image

      JOHN 7 years ago

      Coconut Water Works Very Wells For IBS- Gives You Energy And I Feel Great!!

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Sounds excellent Perfume Fan! - thanks for commenting. Nice to meet you too!

    • PerfumeFan profile image

      PerfumeFan 7 years ago from New Jersey

      I like coconut desserts! In HK, there's a food kiosk that sells coconut milk and mango based desserts. Really yummy!

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks so much Rishfa - we are just beginning to realize here in the US that we were given totally wrong information about coconut. We now know it's one of the perfect foods. Fortunately, my father knew this when I was a child so I got to enjoy the many benefits.

      Thanks for writing. It's nice to meet you too!

    • Rishfa profile image

      Rishfa 7 years ago

      In Maldives we use coconut to make most of the dishes :):) and young coconut does taste great in itself, we use them to give when people are sick, cause young coconut water is v good to boost energy level....it is one most common plant in Maldives.coconut palm

      great hub :)

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I've read the best benefits are raw but since we can get that from the coconut and the milk - we can enjoy cooking with the oil. I recently used coconut oil when I made popcorn - the best ever!!!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 7 years ago from the short journey

      This is great information, thanks! Do you know if coconut oil maintains its nutrients if cooked or does it have to be consumed raw to get the benefits?

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hi Sprinkles of H20!

      I don't know if excessive amounts would cause dental decay but too much of a good thing is never recommended. All things in moderation to get balance in the diet.

      In a spa book I have there are recipes for using the water/milk but in conjunction with other natural products. There are probably good recipes on the internet.

      For 'what does this mean?' The answer is in the next paragraph! It explains the previous misconceptions about coconut oil/water/milk - and how research was based on using hydrogenated oil - which is always unhealthy.

      Thanks for writing!

    • profile image

      Sprinkles of H20 7 years ago

      =D Cool Info. Would it cause dental decay if drank excessively or not at all? Can coconut water/milk be used as a moisturizer? What did you mean by "What does this mean?" in the paragraph about hydrogenated coconut oil?

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hope you like it meteoboy. As I do more research about coconut, and the oil - I am astounded at the benefits! I will have to write more about the oil now.

      Thanks so much for your kind comments!

    • meteoboy profile image

      meteoboy 7 years ago from GREECE

      One more useful hub for our health.I have never tasted coconut milk , but i will do the next days. Thank you for this great hub.

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Oh, I will try this - for sure! And I love offering my guests new taste treats - keep it simple but keep it delectable!

      Thanks for the idea - and so nice to meet you! I will come visit you!

    • Alta5656 profile image

      Alta5656 8 years ago from Davao City, Philippines

      How about young coconut milk (with its flesh pureed with coco water)used in place of milk or coffee creamer? I've tried and loved the taste.

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You know ajm5050 - I walk long distances, that's my exercise of choice, and this coconut water keeps me well sated and hydrated during the warm water.

    • ajm5050 profile image

      ajm5050 8 years ago from NY

      Forget about the benefits Bk :-S, I just think it would taste great and I’m definitely trying this one out. Thanks for the info~

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      ladyvenus 8 years ago

      coconut is very common in our place

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Glad it was helpful - I just picked up coconut cream - will see if that's good!

      Thanks for writing!

    • Christa Dovel profile image

      Christa Dovel 8 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Thank you for the information! I just got our first fresh coconut ever this last week, and cracked it with the kids. We are thoroughly enjoying it, and looking forward to more coconuts.

    • Christa Dovel profile image

      Christa Dovel 8 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Thank you for the information! I just got our first fresh coconut ever this last week, and cracked it with the kids. We are thoroughly enjoying it, and looking forward to more coconuts.

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I do love the flavor of coconut in food. It is refreshing in the summer months. So much good stuff. The ancient cultures knew what they were doing when they picked this fruit.

      Thanks einron for your information.

    • einron profile image

      einron 8 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

      The young coconut drink is very refreshing to drink and you can eat the flesh that is inside the nut. Coconut milk is made from the flesh of the older nut which is squeezed out. Some Chinese used the coconut milk to cook curry. It has a very nice flavour.

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I'm going to look for fresh ones - this summer too. It has been a long time for me also.

      Well, good to know I can use it as a laxative too.

      Otherwise - suddenly it sounds soooo appealing.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 8 years ago from Texas

      We used to have coconuts in the summer time. I haven't had one for a long time. Perhaps I will get one this summer. Thanks for the good info! :)

    • seemorebangkok profile image

      seemorebangkok 8 years ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      I drank coconut water the first year I traveled to Thailand. It taste great but it gave me the runs as a side effect. =) That's when I found out that too much coconut water has a laxative lol!!