As most Singaporeans know, coconut milk is what brings out the true flavour of our favourite Singaporean Curry, Chendol and many other yummilicious Asian spread. Coconut milk has traditionally gotten a bad reputation due to its high levels of saturated fat; similarly for coconut oil. However in recent years, there has been much talk about the health benefits of coconut milk and coconut oil that are challenging what we think we know.
Coconuts are highly nutritious and rich in fibre, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. It also contains a significant amounts of saturated fats – a term which rings alarm bells in our heads.
However, studies have shown that the fats in coconut milk and coconut oil are mostly in the form of medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs) which are converted into energy readily by the body instead of being stored as fat.
One of the MCFAs present in coconut is lauric acid. Lauric acid is used in many developing countries in the treatment of influenza, herpes, hepatitis C, etc, due to its strong antiviral and antibacterial properties. Recent studieshave also confirmed its antimicrobial properties and recommends it to be included in our daily diet for its preventive and healing properties.
Another equally good natural source of lauric acid is human mother’s breast milk which could explain the decreased risk of infection in breast-fed babies. Even though cow’s milk also contains lauric acid, the concentration is much lower at about 3% as compared to coconut milk and coconut oil at about 50%.
Coconut milk and extra virgin coconut oil can be easily added into your daily diet. Add it into your smoothies, oatmeal or porridge or use it in your dessert recipes. We also encourage cooking with coconut oil instead of polyunsaturated vegetable oils (such as canola, corn, and soy oils), as coconut oil is stable at high heat (does not oxidize easily) whereas these vegetable oils oxidize easily. If you do not want your cooked dishes to have a distinct coconut taste and aroma, you can try our culinary virgin coconut oil which has a very mild/almost neutral taste and aroma.
For those who love chocolates, check out our easy 3-ingredient recipe for guilt-free delicious raw chocolate..