Coconut oil vs. Coconut milk — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
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.
Table of contents
- What are the actual differences?
- Nutritional data comparison
- Glycemic index
- Saturated fats
- Unsaturated fats
- Trans fat
- Vitamins and minerals
- Diets and weight loss
- Health impacts
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Coconut oil contains 0g of carbs, whereas coconut milk has higher carbs, equal to 5.5g.
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.
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.
Coconut oil contains six times more monounsaturated fats and nearly 8.5 times more polyunsaturated fats than coconut milk.
Since they are plant-based oil and milk, they don't contain cholesterol, some phyto cholesterol might be present, but they are not relevant.
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.
Diets and weight loss
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.
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.
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)
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)
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.
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)
Fat Type Comparison
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Glycemic Index|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Rich in minerals|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Omega-6 - Linoleic acid||1.676g|
|Omega-3 - ALA||0.019g|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet|