Q: Which is better: full fat coconut milk or half-n-half (cream/milk)?
They both include sat fats. And isn’t coconut milk higher in fats and calories?
This dietitian took her research to heart to determine just which may be the healthier choice to add to her coffee.
Vegan diets (and vegetarian) diets may be associated with lowered heart disease related issues (including cholesterol, blood pressure, hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes)… and even cancers, according to scientific studies. And this is examined in the documentary Forks Over Knives - limiting animal products and processed foods in favor of a more plant-based food diet.
I recently read an interview with Robert Cohen, author of “Milk, the Deadly Poison”. Although I still believe low fat, skim milk can still be part of a healthy diet, this information was helpful in researching which may be a healthier choice (full fat coconut milk or half and half). Because half and half includes some cream (full fat) – even though generally used in small amounts for coffee – I do believe low fat milk or (in reference to this question) coconut milk to be a better choice.
It is known that coconut contains a high amount of saturated fats (and in fact whole coconut milk contains more sat fats than an equal portion of half and half. But the saturated fats in coconut (mainly medium chain triglycerides vs long-chain triglycerides in the majority of other fats/oils eaten) are different from those found in animal products. Using small amounts of coconut oil in the diet may in fact benefit nutritionally, according to The Coconut Research Center:
- Improves digestion and absorption of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
- Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose.
- Relieves stress on pancreatic and enzymatic systems of the body.
- Reduces symptoms associated with pancreatitis.
- Helps relieve symptoms and reduce health risks associated with diabetes
(for more info. visit this coconut research site)
Studies have shown it to raise HDL (good) cholesterol which can help keep bad cholesterol within normal limits. Saturated fats found in animal products have not shown the same benefit in HDL improvement. But coconut, like other saturated fats, is also likely to raise your LDL (bad cholesterol) as well – even though research is not entirely clear. The key, of course, is moderation.
One TBS (of whole coconut milk) to flavor and add mouthfeel to coffee is what I’d consider a healthy amount. And because of the high fat content/ sat fats, one should be finding ways to minimally add this plant food to the diet – this being a simple way. On the contrast, adding in the cream / milk (content of half and half), in my opinion, does not add any significant health benefit. Thus this dietitian sides in favor of the coconut milk.
When choosing a coconut milk, note that there are several options available. Some are full-fat and others are created to be lower in fat/calories. However, do read the labels, choosing a low-fat / lower calorie coconut milk may include additional ingredients you may not want, including added sugars and chemicals to support a modified, more pleasant taste. I think just a small amount of pure, unadulterated coconut milk may be just fine. Remember, the key is moderation. But if you are watching your calories, I’d recommend: So Delicious Coconut milk, unsweetened.
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