Wednesday, June 29, 2011

All Coconut Milks Are Not Equal

There has been much controversy over the years in regard to alternative milks, especially (Soy & Coconut).
Since college I have been drinking Soy Milk as that was the only alternative "healthy" milk available for people who had issues with Cow's Milk. Fast forward more then 30 years and there is a plethora of options now available for purchase. Soy Milk is still there, only now in more flavors and formulations. More recently other types of milks have become more widely available. When I walk into most store's there is now Soy Milk, Almond Milk, Oat Milk, Rice Milk, Hazelnut Milk, Peanut Milk, Hemp Milk, Goat Milk, Cow's Milk and now Coconut Milk by multiple brands.

Coconut Milk previously was only available in a can by the liquor section if you wanted to make a Pina Colada drink. Next it became available in the Asian section of the grocery store for cook's who wanted to use this for a curry or some other dish. Recently coconut milk has gone mainstream, it is now sold in the refrigerated Dairy section at your grocer's right next to all the other Alternative Milks. Growing up and for many years the "FOOD POLICE" always said to avoid all things coconut because of its high fat content, low protein and high amount of calories. The same "FOOD POLICE" also said to avoid all nuts, nuts butters, and chocolate because of their high fat and high calories. Now the tables have turned and nuts, nut butters, chocolate and coconut are all good foods with Healthy Fats for us to enjoy with some moderation. Coconuts are a source of Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA"S), a special type of fat that research has shown burns more energy then other fats.

First there is the old standby Coconut Milk in a can, now available in a Lite version. Thai Kitchen Lite Coconut Milk has 4.5 Grams of Fat, and 4 of these grams are saturated Fat, 50 Calories, 5 milligrams of Sodium, No Sugar, No Protein and 1 Carbohydrate. This does not have any vitamins and should only be used for cooking a vegetarian curry or in a Colada.

Second is the brand So Delicious which was the first to be available at the grocery store with there Original, Vanilla, & Unsweetened Flavors of Coconut Milk. So Delicious has Celebrity Fitness trainer Jillian Michaels has its newest spokesperson so one would think that this must be the best product? The So Delicious label says that it is made from Organic Coconut Milk and Organic Coconut Cream and lots of other stuff, then they add in Folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Magnesium Phosphate, Calcium Phosphate, Zinc Oxide, Selenium, & Vitamin D2. I am not sure if the Iron is naturally occurring or added in? From a Nutrition Profile this product has lots of extra's compared to there competitor. The only item they lose on here is that they only have 10% Calcium while their competition has 45% Calcium.

I tried So Delicious Original and Unsweetened and I did not like either one straight from the carton, they were both very watery and bitter tasting. They are both OK if you cook your oatmeal with it and then add fruit and nuts or if you make it into a smoothie with a banana, a kashi almond bar, and protein powder or whatever else.

In watching Joy Bauer on the Today Show and several other Nutrition experts they all disagree with Jill's Michael's claim on the So Delicious product, that this is the best product available of shelf, dairy, & non-dairy products.

The third option available is the newest player in the Coconut Milk Wars. Silk PureCoconut distributed by White Wave Foods who has been making Soy Milk for years, then added in Almond Milk and now offers Silk PureCoconut Milk in Original And Vanilla flavors. I purchased the Original Flavor which has 80 Calories, 5 Grams of Fat, 30 Milligrams of Sodium, 40 MG Potassium, 7 Carbs, 6 Sugars and 1 Protein Gram. There is Vitamin A, Vitamin D, B12 and 45% Calcium. Silk's label says they use Natural Coconut Milk.

While Silk's PureCoconut does not have the added Zinc, Magnesium, Selenium, & Folate which are all important Vitamins, I loved the taste of it right from the carton in a glass and did not have to add it to something else just to be able to drink it.

Even though I love the taste of  Silk's PureCoconut, on a daily basis I will stick with Silk's Unsweetened Soymilk for the extra protein. If the PureCoconut is on sale and I have a coupon I will buy it for baking or as a treat.

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