Fruit smoothie recipes typically call for milk, water or juice as liquid, but there's no reason you can't use other ingredients. Replace milk with equal parts of coconut milk for a smooth, creamy breakfast drink or snack. Coconut milk, which is made from water and the meat of coconuts, may have more calories and fat than cow's milk, depending on the variety you purchase. Read the labels carefully to ensure that you're getting a truly healthful product.
Coconut milk has a rich texture that matches or even surpasses milk's creaminess. In smoothies, coconut milk imparts a sweet flavor and a light coconut taste. It pairs particularly well with other tropical fruits such as diced pineapple, bananas and mango, but you can use it in almost any type of smoothie. Place frozen fruit in the blender first, followed by the coconut milk, honey and any special flavorings. Puree until smooth.
Before you substitute coconut milk for dairy in smoothies, compare the nutrition data to determine if coconut milk is the right choice for you. Coconut milk contains high levels of medium-chain fatty acids, which may help accelerate metabolism and burn fat. On the other hand, traditional coconut milk contains 51 grams of saturated fat and over 550 calories per cup. Saturated fat in any form can raise bad cholesterol levels and potentially increase your risk of heart disease. Low-fat milk has only 2 grams of saturated fat and 102 calories per cup. Cow's milk contains 8 grams of protein; coconut milk has 5 grams. One serving of cow's milk includes 29 percent of your recommended daily allowance of calcium. Coconut milk has only 4 percent, so be sure to incorporate another source of calcium into your diet rather than relying on coconut milk.
You might opt to use coconut milk in smoothies because of an intolerance to dairy. Coconut milk doesn't contain any lactose and is a safe alternative for those trying to avoid milk products. However, if you have a nut allergy, you should use coconut with caution. Although botanically a fruit, it can cause allergic reactions occasionally in people who are allergic to nuts, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma amd Immunology. Coconut milk may contain guar gum, which is made from guar beans and can cause indigestion, diarrhea and bloating, especially in those with digestive problems.
If you'd like to substitute coconut milk for cow's milk in your smoothies, opt for lite versions available in the refrigerated diary section of your supermarket. These products contain about 50 calories per cup and only 25 percent of your recommended daily intake of saturated fat. Choose refrigerated cartons to eliminate the risk of BPA exposure found in canned goods.
- Eating Well: The Health Benefits of Coconut
- Los Angeles Times: Got Coconut Milk?
- Chris Kresser: 3 Reasons Why Coconut Milk May Not Be Your Friend
- American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: Tree Nut Allergy
- Self Nutrition Data: Milk, Lowfat, Fluid, 1% Milkfat
- Self Nutrition Data: Nuts, Coconut Milk, Raw
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