Oh, the creamy goodness of milk. Whether on cereal, in smoothies, soups, or just by the glass, humans love milk. Unfortunately, milk from animals can cause serious health problems, and contemporary dairy practices take a heavy toll on the environment. But milk made from coconuts provides a wonderful alternative for all ages.

The Problems with Dairy Milk

Milk that comes from animals, especially cows, can cause or contribute to several health problems. Dairy milk triggers allergic reactions in many people, and lactose intolerance is even more common. Up to sixty percent of Caucasian adults and eighty percent of African, Asian, Indigenous, and Hispanic adults cannot properly digest dairy.

Milk is the number one allergen for children. An allergic reaction can result in anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal if not treated immediately. And consuming cows milk can cause less severe but still unhealthy reactions in children, such as causing other allergies, interfering with development of the digestive system, and intestinal bleeding.

Cows milk is high in saturated fat and cholesterol. This can contribute to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other diseases. It is also high in lactose, a type of sugar. Some types of milk can spike blood sugar levels almost as much as drinking fruit juice or soda pop, because they deliver simple carbohydrates without fiber.

Lastly, commercial dairies are a significant contributor to global warming. Methane emissions, deforestation, water pollution, and other factors involved in milk production give it a large carbon footprint. And dairy animals in industrial facilities often live and die in cruel, unsanitary, torturous conditions.

The Benefits of Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is a great alternative to dairy milk. Coconut production actually sequesters carbon into the soil, helping to slow climate change. The entire coconut plant can be used in some way, making it a very efficient crop.

Coconuts are healthy for humans of all ages, when consumed in moderation. They are high in medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). Unlike the long-chain fatty acids found in animal products, MCFAs are broken down quickly by the liver. This means they are more likely to be used for energy than stored as fat. Moderate consumption of MCFAs may actually help with maintaining a healthy weight.

The most common MCFA in coconut is lauric acid. Lauric acid is also found in human breast milk. It is converted in the body into an anti-viral and anti-bacterial compound that can help protect our cells from infections and viruses.

Coconut milk is low in sugars and starches, so it does not spike blood sugar levels. It is also free of cholesterol and low in sodium.

On the down side, coconut milk does not contain the protein and calcium that animal milk can provide. You will need to monitor the intake of these nutrients for you and your children, especially if you are accustomed to depending on milk to supply them. Even though the fat in coconuts is relatively healthy, they are still very high in fat, so any coconut product should be enjoyed in moderation.

Packaged coconut milk often contains preservatives, thickeners, and emulsifiers that may not contribute to health. In particular the thickener carrageenan, which is used in many products including non-dairy milks and toothpastes, has been linked to gastrointestinal problems. As with so many other foods, the healthiest and most affordable option is to make coconut milk yourself at home.

How to Make Coconut Milk at Home

There are a couple ways to make your own coconut milk:

Fresh Coconut

If you are lucky enough to have access to whole coconuts, use them. It is more work but worth it for the fresh goodness.

~ Poke a hole in the coconut and pour the liquid into a blender.

~ Chop the coconut in half with a large, sharp knife. You can also wrap it in a towel and smash it with a hammer or rock.

~ Carefully scrape out all the flesh into the blender with the coconut water. The flesh should be bright white and moist, and curl out of the husk like firm melon.

~ Cover the blender jar and blend on high for 1-2 minutes. You may need to pulse it a bit to get all the chunks.

~ You can strain the milk through a fine meshed strainer or cheesecloth to make it smoother, but it is quite nice with the pulp in it.

~ Enjoy immediately, or store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Dried Coconut

You can also make coconut milk from dried coconut flakes or desiccated coconut.

~ Pour 1 cup of dried coconut into a blender.

~ Add 2 cups of very hot, but not boiling, water.

~ Blend on high for 2 minutes. You may need to hold the lid on, as heat tends to make blender lids pop off.

~ Strain through a cheesecloth or fine meshed strainer, pressing out all the liquid. The remaining pulp may be used as a base for deserts or soups.

~ Enjoy immediately, or once it cools refrigerate and use within 3 days.

There are many healthy alternatives to cows milk that can be made at home. Enjoy the benefits of creamy coconut milk by making drinks, soups, and treats your whole family will love.