Posted on: October 4, 2016 at 3:31 pm
Last updated: September 27, 2017 at 10:58 am

This amazing article was written by Kelly Agnew, a Holistic Nutritionist! We encourage you to check out her website here and follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter!

Everywhere you turn, people are using coconut products. Coconut oil, coconut milk, shredded coconut meat, and yes, there’s more. I think it’s safe to say that coconuts are a modern-day superfood; with tons of uses from moisturizer, to oral care (oil pulling anyone?) to cooking and baking, coconuts have become a go-to item for every-day use.

It’s easy to find articles upon articles about how healthy coconut oil is for you, but what about the other wonderful coconut products? Where does the coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut butter and coconut meat come in? Why are they wonderful additions to our diet and what parts should we be eating? I’m about to share it all with you.

Why you need these coconut products in your kitchen

Coconuts are the source of many different ingredients that we use in our baking and cooking:

  • Coconut water
  • Coconut milk
  • Coconut cream
  • Coconut meat
  • Coconut oil
  • Coconut butter
  • Coconut sugar

Each of these products has a number of wonderful nutritional benefits, and they all play a unique role in the kitchen. From breakfast, straight through to dessert, coconut can be an easy ingredient to integrate into your cooking and baking! Want to find out how? Let’s jump into Using Coconuts in the Kitchen 101!


Coconut water

Coconut water is the liquid found inside of a coconut, and is often consumed as a beverage or added to smoothies.

Nutritional benefits of coconut water:

  • Very hydrating and contains natural electrolytes lost during intense activity (sodium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium), so it makes a great post-workout drink.
  • Can lower blood pressure, due to potassium content.
  • Can reduce stress and muscle tension due to calcium and magnesium content.

How to use coconut water:

  • Enjoy a hydrating, electrolyte-replacing sports drink after an intensive workout. Get your recipe right here.
  • Give your morning smoothie a boost by adding coconut water instead of plain water.
  • Try cooking rice with coconut water, instead of plain water, to give it a unique flavour.
  • Mix a bit of coconut water into a homemade citrus-based vinaigrette and add it to your salad.
  • Make refreshing homemade popsicles with coconut water and fresh fruit like watermelon, strawberry and pineapple

How to store coconut water:

  • Once opened, keep coconut water refrigerated in an airtight container and consume within 3-5 days.

Other notes:

  • When buying coconut water, avoid brands with added sugar and flavours. Also avoid coconut water from concentrate, as it is less likely to have the same nutritional value as fresh coconut water.

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Coconut milk

Coconut milk comes from the grated meat of the coconut. It is very different than coconut water, containing more saturated fat and calories, but it’s much thicker and provides a great flavour in many recipes. Typically coconut milk can be found boxed or canned, in full-fat or low-fat options. Light coconut milk is simply full-fat milk but is strained to remove some of the fat.

Note: do not mix up traditional coconut milk with refrigerated coconut milk, which you can learn more about below.

Nutritional benefits of coconut milk:

  • Lowers cholesterol by lowering LDL and raising HDL levels, due to high amounts of lauric acid which are shown to aide in heart health and cholesterol.
  • Like coconut water, the potassium levels in coconut milk are beneficial to lower blood pressure.
  • Prevents fatigue and builds muscle. Coconut milk contains certain medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which can be used by our brains for energy without needing to go through our entire digestive system. These same MCTs increase energy expenditure and can also support physical performance.
  • Can support weight loss, as coconut’s MCTs may prevent obesity and may stimulate the weight loss.
  • Manage blood sugar through it’s MCTs and fat content. MCT’s become a preferred source of energy, and the fat content keeps us satiated, slowing the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
  • Supports a healthy immune system because it’s anti-parasitic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal.
  • Keeps hair and skin looking healthy and youthful.

How to use coconut milk:

  • Add a little bit of coconut milk to a smoothie to get a nice boost of healthy fats.
  • Coconut milk makes great addition to any thai-based curry sauce [HYPERLINK: ] .
  • Try coconut milk as a dairy-free milk alternative for your latte!
  • Add it to oatmeal with berries to make a creamy, filling breakfast.
  • Make creamy soups and stews by adding coconut milk.

How to store coconut milk:

  • Unopened canned or boxed coconut milk can be stored until stated expiry date.
  • Once opened, refrigerate in an airtight container and consume within 3-5 days.

Other notes:

  • Avoid coconut milk where preservatives, additives and sweeteners have been added to the product.
  • If purchasing canned coconut milk, watch out for BPA in the lining of the cans. Source a BPA-free brand if possible.
  • Refrigerated coconut milk is a common form of coconut milk that is often consumed as a beverage. As a result, it is generally watered down and is often filled with additives like carrageenan and sweeteners. If a recipe calls for coconut milk, avoid this kind and stick with traditional coconut milk instead.

Coconut cream

What’s the difference is between coconut milk and coconut cream? Coconut cream is a more highly concentrated version of coconut milk. There is more coconut in coconut cream, making it a thicker consistency. If you’ve ever had a can of coconut milk separate, the thick portion that rises to the top is the cream!

Nutritional benefits of coconut cream:

Since coconut cream is a more concentrated version of coconut milk, the same health benefits can be realized. But because it’s more concentrated, you need less coconut cream to experience them:

  • Lowers cholesterol and aids in heart health;
  • Helps lower blood pressure;
  • Gives you energy;
  • Can support weight loss;
  • Helps to manage blood sugar;
  • Supports a healthy immune system;
  • Supports healthy skin and hair.

How to use coconut cream:

  • Make a great pina colada “nice cream” with bananas and pineapple – or go crazy and make yourself a pina colada!
  • Thicken up your smoothies with a little coconut cream to add some healthy fats and a smooth, creamy texture.
  • Add a bit to your morning oatmeal for a mildly-sweet and creamy, porridge texture.
  • A tasty addition to sweet potato soup, or any curry-based sauce!

How to store coconut cream:

  • Unopened coconut cream can be stored until the stated expiry date.
  • Once opened, refrigerate coconut cream in airtight container and consume within 3-5 days.
  • You can also freeze coconut cream in an airtight container – try this if you’re worried about not using all of it at once.

Other notes:

  • Although saturated fats are no longer our enemy, portion sizes are still important. Coconut cream is high-fat so a little can go a long way!
  • Avoid coconut milk where preservatives, additives and sweeteners have been added to the product.
  • Avoid anything that might read “cream of coconut” since it’s often a sweetened version of coconut cream. Remember to always check the ingredients list.
  • If purchasing canned coconut cream, watch out for BPA in the lining of the cans. Source a BPA-free brand if possible.

Have you fallen in love with coconuts yet? Check back soon for a second article, where we discuss other coconut products like coconut meat, coconut oil, coconut butter and coconut sugar!

Kelly Agnew
Health Expert
A holistic nutritionist in the making, Kelly is a marketer by day and a wellness blogger + nutrition student by night. She is passionate about inspiring women to take control of their lives by balancing nutrition, exercise and general well-being. She shares her stories in hopes to inspire others to live holistically and fully.

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