Healthy Hollywood: Ask Keri Glassman - What's The Difference Between Coconut Water & Coconut Milk?

Nutritionist Keri Glassman, who regularly shares her expertise on Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, is answering your nutrition, diet, and health questions.

Want to know which foods to curb sugar cravings? Or, what should you eat before a workout? Ask Keri anything!

Keri will choose one great question a week to be answered Thursday in our Healthy Hollywood column.

To submit questions for Keri, click HERE!

This week’s question…

“My friend has been boasting about how much she loves coconut water and when I tried it, I didn’t have the same affection. I have also heard of people drinking coconut milk but I thought they were the same thing. What is the difference between coconut water and coconut milk? Why should I drink either of these? – Olivia Y.

Keri says…

Just the word “coconut” is strong enough to evoke the image of sitting on the beach with the sun beaming on your face, the sound of ocean waves crashing around, and a cold, frothy, tropical drink in hand. But coconuts are no longer reserved only for tropical cocktails on vacay. Coconut water and coconut milk (among other coconut treats) have made their way to our supermarket shelves and squeezed their way into our everyday lives, leaving consumers unsure of which to reach for. Let’s dive into some coconutrition!

Coconut water is the clear, electrolyte-filled juice that comes from the inside of young coconuts. This is the stuff that you have probably heard Madonna, Giselle and even A-Rod rave about. Remember being told as a kid that if you somehow managed to crack open a coconut, you could drink what was inside? If you had been successful doing this you would have found coconut water! It is now commonly used in place of sports drinks as a more natural option. It contains approximately 43 calories, 0 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbohydrates per 8 fluid ounces.

Coconut milk is derived from mature coconuts. The white, rich liquid is produced from grating the coconut meat (the milky white part that lines the inside of the coconut). Coconut milk is often used in tropical smoothies and cocktails as well as in Indian and Thai dishes to give them a thick and creamy taste. It contains approximately 360, calories, 33 grams of fat and 6 grams of carbohydrates per 8 fluid ounces. Another way to enjoy the famous flavor of coconut is as a replacement for your glass of milk. Coconut milk is now being offered in a less thick and less caloric way by changing the proportion of coconut and water ratio.

One of the reasons coconut water has recently garnered so much attention is because of its numerous health perks, ranging from electrolytes (5 to be exact: sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus), vitamin C, low acidity, and ability to help you rapidly rehydrate.

Coconut milk is still under the radar to some extent, but the benefits may surprise you. Coconut milk contains saturated fat that may even help you lose weight. Saturated fat has forever gotten a bad rap but not all saturated fats are created equal. The type of saturated fat in coconut is called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). Coconut milk is also beneficial for immune system health because it contains lauric and caprylic acid both of which are anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Coconut milk is also a beauty booster as it can contribute to healthy skin and hair.

Whether you’re coconutty or not for this coconut craze, both the milk and water pack in tons of vitamins, minerals, and offer health benefits. With that being said, the key to drinking responsibly is how you choose to enjoy these drinks. Coconut water is a better option than sports drinks but remember that it is not water. It does contain calories so if you like the taste of coconut water and want to incorporate it into your diet, be sure to remove calories elsewhere. Try a glass of coconut water with a handful of nuts for a powerful snack to keep you energized and focused. If you’re lacking in the fruits and vegetables department, coconut water is also a good way to meet your potassium requirements (one cup of coconut water=one banana). Although coconut milk is higher in calories and fat, it can be incorporated into a healthy diet by using small amounts as the fat source in recipes such as a smoothie.

-- Keri Glassman & Terri MacLeod

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