Why You Can't Ignore The Fat Content In Canned Coconut Milk

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Coconut milk has become super popular and according to Healthline, not only is it quite tasty, it's packed with great vitamins and nutrients, like manganese and copper, and small amounts of iron and calcium. This health elixir is touted for reducing inflammation, assisting in weight loss, and even being heart-healthy. 

There are quite a number of recipes that call for coconut milk, like curries, soups, and puddings, and it's great in smoothies and coffee drinks. One of the reasons coconut milk is so popular in dishes is because it adds a creamy texture and flavor without the same fat content as butter (per Food Struct), but does that mean that coconut milk is low in fat?

According to WebMD, coconut milk is high in fat, especially saturated fat, and high in calories. The website claims that just two tablespoons of coconut milk contain 56 calories and six grams of fat, and two tablespoons of coconut cream has 136 calories and six grams of fat. With that information, you can't ignore that coconut milk can add fat and calories to your favorite dishes. 

Fat and calorie content in canned coconut milk

How do the calorie and fat content add up in a recipe? A basic peanut sauce calls for 1.5 cans of coconut milk. The average can of coconut milk on Amazon is 13.5 ounces. The calorie count for Goya coconut milk, sold on Amazon, is 100 calories and 9 grams of fat per serving. One can has seven servings, so that is 700 calories for one can of coconut milk and 63 grams of fat. For the peanut sauce recipe, the coconut milk alone would add 1,050 calories to the dish, and close to 95 grams of fat. Yikes.

You can reduce the amount of fat when you use cans of coconut milk, though. One way is to make sure you aren't buying cans with added sugar. There are versions of coconut milk that are sugar-free, and those are lower in calories and fat content and are reduced-fat coconut milk, too. The Goya brand coconut milk sold at Walmart has 70 calories per serving, for 490 calories a can, and 6 grams of fat per serving, for 42 grams of fat per can.

Everything in moderation

Of course, swapping out full-fat coconut milk with reduced-fat coconut milk can affect the taste and texture of the dish you are making, just like swapping out full-fat milk for 2% milk or butter with margarine can change the taste of your recipe. If you just want to add a dash of coconut milk to soup or hot chocolate, you can opt for the reduced-fat versions. But if you want to make a full dish, like Jamaican Curry, you will want to go with the full-fat coconut milk so that you get the right texture and a richer flavor.

But why is knowing the fat content of coconut milk important? Coconut milk is often assumed to be the healthier option, compared to something like butter, but it all depends on how much is being used. If you are on a health journey, or if you have dietary restrictions that require you to lower your fat and calorie contents, knowing the nutritional information of coconut milk is crucial.