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Coconut oil vs Coconut milk - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on October 05, 2021
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Coconut oil
vs
Coconut milk

Summary

Coconut oil has a lower glycemic index and is lower in carbs. On the other hand, coconut milk is highly versatile and cheaper. It is richer in vitamins and minerals and lowers in fats compared to coconut oil. However, they are bad for the cardiovascular system.

Introduction

Coconut oil is vegetable oil. It is the result of the processing of the white part of the coconut, known as the coconut meat. At room temperature, it is primarily liquid with some solid particles suspended in it. Coconut oil is not widely available since it is derived from coconuts, a tropical fruit. It's popular in Indian and Filipino cuisines.

Coconut milk is a white opaque liquid that resembles milk. It is extracted from the white solid part of the coconut when it matures. It has a dense and heavy texture, mostly due to its saturated fat content.

Coconut milk is widely used in tropical areas, mostly where they are highly abundant. They are part of the South Asian, East African, and Caribbean gastronomy and culinary world.

In this article, we will discuss the difference between coconut oil and coconut milk according to their main differences, nutritional content, diet and weight loss, health impacts, and myths.

What are the actual differences?

There are many differences, including shelf life, price, availability, and usage.

Shelf life

Coconut oil has a longer shelf life compared to coconut milk. Mainly because it is an oil that ultimately has a longer shelf life. Often preservatives are added into coconut milk which extends its shelf life.

Price

Coconut oil is more expensive, and it is considered one of the most expensive oils compared to other cooking oils. The comparison with other oils will not be discussed in this article, but it is important to highlight that notion.

Availability

Coconut oil and milk are mostly available and cheaper in tropical regions mainly because they are harvested there. Coconut milk is more easily prepared even at home if there is a mature coconut, although many coconuts are required for a decent amount of coconut milk.

Usage

Coconut milk is more versatile in the culinary world as there are multiple usages for it. Cooking, drinking as an alternative to milk, and preparing various breakfast meals. Coconut milk is used in Asian cuisine, mostly in Filipino, India, and other countries. On the other hand, coconut oil is mostly used in cooking.

Nutritional data comparison

Glycemic index

The glycemic index difference between coconut milk and coconut oil is very remarkable. The glycemic index of coconut oil is 0, whereas the glycemic index of coconut milk is 97. The glycemic index of coconut milk is higher and is classified as a high glycemic index food.

Calories

When it comes to calories, coconut oil is very high in calories as compared to coconut milk. Coconut oil contains 892 calories for 100g, whereas coconut milk contains far less. It contains 230 calories for 100g.

Carbs

Coconut oil contains 0g of carbs, whereas coconut milk has higher carbs, equal to 5.5g.

Fats

The fat profile of both is the most important feature when it comes to comparing their macronutrients within themselves and other foods.

Coconut oil is an oil food meaning that most of its weight is made of fat. It contains 99g of fat per 100g. On the other hand, coconut milk contains less fat. Coconut milk contains 24g of fat per 100g.

It is also important to dissect the fat profile and look at their distributions.

Saturated fats

Coconut oil is very high in saturated fats. It contains four times more saturated fats than coconut milk. The amount of saturated fats in coconut oil is to be taken into consideration.

Unsaturated fats

Coconut oil contains six times more monounsaturated fats and nearly 8.5 times more polyunsaturated fats than coconut milk.

Cholesterol

Since they are plant-based oil and milk, they don't contain cholesterol, some phyto cholesterol might be present, but they are not relevant.

Trans fat

Coconut milk contains more trans fat than coconut oil. However, when heating and cooking, the amount of trans fat might increase in coconut oil.

Vitamins and minerals

Coconut oil is devoid of many minerals and vitamins. On the other hand, coconut milk is richer in phosphorus, copper, zinc, magnesium, potassium, iron, vitamins B3, B5, and folate.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
Contains more Vitamin K +500%
Contains more Vitamin E +36.4%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +∞%
Contains more Folate +∞%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 0% 3% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 2%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 0% 3% 0% 10% 7% 0% 15% 11% 8% 12% 0% 1%
Contains more Vitamin K +500%
Contains more Vitamin E +36.4%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +∞%
Contains more Folate +∞%

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Contains less Sodium -100%
Contains more Calcium +1500%
Contains more Iron +3180%
Contains more Magnesium +∞%
Contains more Phosphorus +∞%
Contains more Potassium +∞%
Contains more Zinc +3250%
Contains more Copper +∞%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 1% 2% 0% 0% 0% 0% 1% 0%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 5% 62% 27% 43% 24% 2% 19% 89%
Contains less Sodium -100%
Contains more Calcium +1500%
Contains more Iron +3180%
Contains more Magnesium +∞%
Contains more Phosphorus +∞%
Contains more Potassium +∞%
Contains more Zinc +3250%
Contains more Copper +∞%

Diets and weight loss

Vegan

Coconut milk and coconut oil are used during the vegan diet. Coconut oil can replace butter in cooking as it gives a dense texture to food due to its high saturated fat content. On the other hand, coconut milk is a good alternative to dairy milk; however, better alternatives are available that are low in saturated fats.

Keto

Coconut oil and coconut milk are low in carbs and can be part of the keto diet. Most importantly, here we have coconut milk which is a low-carb version of nearly most non-dairy milk. In addition to that, coconut milk can be used in cooking.

Health impacts

Cancer

Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a fatty acid that lowers the chance of developing enlarged prostate and prostatic cancer. (1)

Lauric acid present in coconut milk, similar to coconut oil, induces apoptosis on breast cancer cells and endometrial cancer cells. The lauric acid is present in both; thus, we can conclude that coconut oil and coconut milk have protective effects against prostate cancer, breast cancer, and endometrial cancer. (2)

Nervous system and brain

A diet high in coconut oil improved the major cognitive skills of those with Alzheimer's disease. (3)

Lauric acid present in coconut milk and oil promotes healthy cognitive development. (4)

Cardiovascular health

Coconut milk and coconut oil are examples of foods high in saturated fatty acids; they raise the concentration of low-density lipoproteins in the blood (LDL), causing cardiovascular disorders, mainly atherosclerosis. Individuals with a family history of blood lipid problems or have already been diagnosed with blood lipid abnormalities should exercise caution while eating coconut milk and coconut oil. (5) (6)

Miscellaneous

As a vegan cooking oil, coconut oil may be used in cooking. It is also used in cooking for the preparation of vegan mayonnaise.

Coconut oil has an advantage over other oils in that it may be safely used for high-temperature cooking.

Another benefit of coconut oil is that it may be used as a skin moisturizer and UV protection. Although using coconut oil as a moisturizer has no nutritional advantages, it does have medicinal significance.

Myths

Coconut oil is a nutritious and risk-free oil to consume: (wrong)

Coconut oil is well-known in the vegan world and among those who follow the keto diet. It is promoted as a healthy fat to ingest. However, if coconut oil is not eaten in moderation, no more than 2-3 tablespoons per day, it raises the blood's risk of high LDL levels.

Coconut milk is a good vegan alternative to milk: (wrong)

It is high in saturated fats; other alternatives to the coconut milk that are vegan are available and healthier.

Replace carbs with fats: (wrong)

This is heavily emphasized in the keto community. When carbohydrates are removed from the diet and replaced with lipids that are primarily saturated fats, such as butter or coconut oil, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases. (7)

References

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6201718
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5601385/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30056419/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5069255/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26135349/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29974400/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5492032/
Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: October 05, 2021

Infographic

Coconut oil vs Coconut milk infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Coconut oil Coconut milk
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Coconut oil Coconut milk Opinion
Net carbs 0g 3.34g Coconut milk
Protein 0g 2.29g Coconut milk
Fats 99.06g 23.84g Coconut oil
Carbs 0g 5.54g Coconut milk
Calories 892kcal 230kcal Coconut oil
Starch g g
Fructose g g
Sugar 0g 3.34g Coconut oil
Fiber 0g 2.2g Coconut milk
Calcium 1mg 16mg Coconut milk
Iron 0.05mg 1.64mg Coconut milk
Magnesium 0mg 37mg Coconut milk
Phosphorus 0mg 100mg Coconut milk
Potassium 0mg 263mg Coconut milk
Sodium 0mg 15mg Coconut oil
Zinc 0.02mg 0.67mg Coconut milk
Copper 0mg 0.266mg Coconut milk
Vitamin A 0IU 0IU
Vitamin E 0.11mg 0.15mg Coconut milk
Vitamin D 0IU 0IU
Vitamin D 0µg 0µg
Vitamin C 0mg 2.8mg Coconut milk
Vitamin B1 0mg 0.026mg Coconut milk
Vitamin B2 0mg 0mg
Vitamin B3 0mg 0.76mg Coconut milk
Vitamin B5 0mg 0.183mg Coconut milk
Vitamin B6 0mg 0.033mg Coconut milk
Folate 0µg 16µg Coconut milk
Vitamin B12 0µg 0µg
Vitamin K 0.6µg 0.1µg Coconut oil
Tryptophan 0mg 0.027mg Coconut milk
Threonine 0mg 0.083mg Coconut milk
Isoleucine 0mg 0.09mg Coconut milk
Leucine 0mg 0.17mg Coconut milk
Lysine 0mg 0.101mg Coconut milk
Methionine 0mg 0.043mg Coconut milk
Phenylalanine 0mg 0.116mg Coconut milk
Valine 0mg 0.139mg Coconut milk
Histidine 0mg 0.053mg Coconut milk
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Trans Fat 0.028g g Coconut milk
Saturated Fat 82.475g 21.14g Coconut milk
Monounsaturated Fat 6.332g 1.014g Coconut oil
Polyunsaturated fat 1.702g 0.261g Coconut oil

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Coconut oil Coconut milk
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
0
Coconut oil
5
Coconut milk
Mineral Summary Score
0
Coconut oil
33
Coconut milk

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
0%
Coconut oil
14%
Coconut milk
Carbohydrates
0%
Coconut oil
6%
Coconut milk
Fats
457%
Coconut oil
110%
Coconut milk

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Coconut oil
Coconut oil is lower in Sugar (difference - 3.34g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Coconut oil
Coconut oil contains less Sodium (difference - 15mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Coconut oil
Coconut oil is lower in glycemic index (difference - 97)
Which food is cheaper?
Coconut oil
Coconut oil is cheaper (difference - $1.8)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Coconut milk
Coconut milk is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 61.335g)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Coconut milk
Coconut milk is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Coconut milk
Coconut milk is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Coconut oil - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171412/nutrients
  2. Coconut milk - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170172/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.