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If you are like me, you have recently begun to wonder if coconut milk is taking over the world. Is coconut milk really a wonder ingredient which will melt away belly fat, keep your heart healthy, ramp up your immunity and make your hair and skin beautiful? While the list of claimed benefits is indeed impressive, it is worth approaching all miracle foods with a bit of caution.

1.The weight loss claim stems from the idea that healthy fats keep you feeling full longer so that the hunger messages do not cause you to overeat. I fully support the consumption of healthy fats, but experts do not agree on whether coconut oil is one. It is 80-90% saturated fat, and has been shown to elevate both LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol. Not exactly conclusive. And with so many healthy fats available (such as olive oil), there is no reason to confine your fat consumption to coconut.
2.What about heart health? Coconut milk is supposed to be good for your heart because Pacific Islanders and Asians, who eat primarily coconut oils (rather than vegetable or animal fats), show significantly lower levels of heart disease. This is flimsy evidence on its own, but consider this: medium-chain fatty acids such as those found in coconut milk have been shown kill the three major types of bacteria that cause the formation of plaque in the arteries, possibly leading to heart disease. You'll have to weigh that against the elevated LDL cholesterol to decide whether there is a net balance or a net deficit, because there have been no independent studies to do it for you.
3.Your immune system might be improved by drinking coconut milk. It contains lauric acid, antimicrobial lipids and capric acid, which have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. The body converts lauric acid from coconut milk into monolaurin, which is believed to fight the viruses and bacteria that cause herpes, influenza and even HIV. However, until a study shows this conclusively, I'm reserving judgement.
4.Finally, what about that healthy skin and hair we all crave? Coconut oil used topically on skin and hair is said to supply nutrients for growth and optimal conditioning, treating dandruff and dry, itchy skin. As an oil, coconut fat is an occlusive, meaning it acts to seal in moisture. There is no disputing the results of using an occlusive; however, this kind of moisturizer is available from a wide range of animal and vegetable fats, and some fat-based occlusives have been shown to clog pores. Don't limit yourself to coconut oil if you want healthy skin.
Overall, there may be considerable good in coconut milk and its oil. There's no reason to avoid it, unless you have a cholesterol problem, in which case you'll want to ask your doctor's opinion first. However, some of the extravagant claims being made should be taken for what they are: marketing.

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed]
For a limited time, Fabulously 40 members save 5% off all purchases. Code fab40 at checkout.


Pharmagirl, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cynthia Schmidt wrote Jun 17, 2012
    • I’ve been hearing a lot about it too, Sharmani. One thing about Pacific Islanders, though, that population has a very high incidence of type 2 diabetes. It’s nearly an epidemic over here in Hawaii.  

      All the health food stores right now are really touting the benefits of using cold pressed coconut oil in cooking. I have a friend whose husband lost quite a bit if weight and says coconut oil is the reason but when I questioned him further turns out he changed all aspects of his diet and switched to mostly plant based foods. He used to be a huge meat eater.

      I agree with you to use caution when approaching the topic of adding a lot of coconut milk and oil to our diets.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Pharmagirl wrote Jul 5, 2012
    • Thanks for your input, Cynthia. Good sense will win out!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Jul 5, 2012
    • That is really great info. Especially if you have concerns with LDL and HDL like I do. I have a friend who swears by coconut oil and milk. I’m going to show her this to see if any of this applies to her.



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