By Laura Ng
What are the differences between coconut oil and coconut milk in terms of health benefits? How are they made that causes the difference?
To make coconut milk, you just add water to coconut cream concentrate (which you obtained from pressing fresh coconut meat) and mix them. When coconut cream dilutes, you get coconut milk. Since coconut milk is made from coconut cream, it's still considered a whole coconut as it contains all the nutrients that a coconut provides such as its natural sugar (carbohydrate), protein, oil (fat) etc.
What about coconut oil? Although you extract coconut oil from fresh coconut meat too, only the fat content is retained. Hence, you'll see virgin coconut oil having zero carbohydrate (no sugar) and zero protein on its label.
Does it mean you're getting fewer nutrients from coconut oil than coconut milk? In a way, yes. But coconut oil contains much denser medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) like lauric acid which promote excellent health benefits for us. You can easily obtain your carbohydrate and protein intake from other plant food sources. So, I don't see much issue with consuming just coconut oil.
But of course, I do recommend that you try to add coconut milk wherever possible if you feel you prefer coconut milk to its oil concentrate. For me, I take coconut oil more often than coconut milk or cream because I only use coconut cream / milk in cooking especially my favorite curry whereas I add coconut oil to my daily meal intake (I add it in my drinks also) as well as using it in stir-frying or sautéing.
I also apply coconut oil to my skin every morning and night for facial and skin care. You can't do the same with coconut milk as leaving it on your face overnight while asleep may attract ants due to its mild natural sweetness.
In other words, coconut oil is more versatile — it allows you to use in various ways more than you can do with coconut milk.
In a nutshell, you get additional carbohydrate and protein nutrients from coconut milk but you're getting an abundant supply of more health-boosting lauric acid from coconut oil concentrate. By the way, some people are allergic to coconut milk but not coconut oil. So, which would you choose?
If you're going with coconut oil, I suggest that you get a complete picture of the health benefits of coconut oil so that you know exactly how to reap its full nutritional values and improve your health dramatically.