You have probably heard the many health benefits of coconuts, from increasing good cholesterol to helping keep you hydrated. As a result of this health crave, more and more coconut products are saturating the market, with two of the most prominent being coconut water and coconut milk. What's the difference between these two coconut products? Is one better than the other? Which one should you reach for after a long workout? We answer these questions and more.

What Is Coconut Milk?

coconut milk in half a coconut

Coconut milk is an emulsion of coconut cream and coconut water. The coconut flesh is grated and soaked in hot water. The coconut cream rises to the top and is skimmed off. Then, the remaining liquid is squeezed through a cheesecloth to extract the coconut milk.

Coconut milk is higher in calories than coconut water. Most of its calories come from fat, including the dreaded saturated fat. Specifically, one cup of coconut milk can be around 281 calories and contain 28 grams of fat. Therefore, if you're are on a weight loss program, it's not wise to consume coconut milk in excess. Additionally, health professionals advise that those with a history of heart disease limit their intake.

Although coconut milk is high in calories and fat is it also high in nutrients and vitamins including iron, selenium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, protein, and vitamins E, C, B1, B5, and B6. However, given the amount of fat, you should still consume it in moderation.

What Is Coconut Water?

coconut halves with a glass of coconut water

Coconut water is the water that builds inside the shell of young and green coconuts. Like coconut milk, coconut water contains high levels of sodium and potassium, which help to replenish fluids after exercise. Some have even touted it as the best natural alternative to regular sports drinks due to its potassium content and lower amounts of sugar. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that coconut water has the ability to rehydrate as well as a sports drink.

Also, coconut water is significantly lower in calories than coconut milk, with one container only having 45 calories. Another major difference is that there is no fat in coconut water, which makes it a more ideal beverage for those wanting to manage their weight or who have a history of cardiovascular diseases.

Coconut Milk Vs. Coconut Water: Which Is Better?

Inherently, one is not better than the other, it just depends on your purpose. In terms of fat content and low calories, coconut water is the healthier choice. However, coconut milk is a great alternative to dairy milk. It is also worth mentioning that both are healthy when consumed in moderation.

Recipes Using Coconut Milk

Coconut Cream Pie

coconut cream pie

There's nothing like a slice of classic coconut cream pie. Whip of this delicious dessert using coconut milk and other common ingredients you probably have in your cupboard, such as white sugar, salt, butter and vanilla extract.

Coconut Curry

coconut curry

This recipe for coconut curry sauce is probably the most practical way to cook with coconut milk. The best thing about coconut curry is that it can be altered in any way and made vegetarian and vegan. Feel free to serve it over chicken, shrimp, or veggies.

Piña Colada

pina colada

Yes, coconut milk can even be used in delicious, boozy drinks. If you like piña coladas, you'll love this recipe for the perfect pina colada. All you will need is a blender, ice, rum, pineapple juice, and coconut milk. One sip and you'll swear you're on a tropical island.

Coconut Ice Cream

ice cream inside a coconut

Make your own vegan ice cream alternative using coconut milk. Unlike other milk alternatives, the fat content in coconut milk makes it perfect for ice cream. To add, you don't even need a churn to make creamy coconut ice cream.

Recipes Using Coconut Water

Strawberry Coconut Lemonade

strawberry lemonade

Cool off with a glass of hydrating and refreshing strawberry coconut water lemonade. Unlike plain strawberry lemonade, coconut water adds a nutritious twist. It's perfect for a hot summer day or after a light workout.

Coconut Water Vinaigrette

kale salad

Instead of reaching for a regular, store-bought salad dressing, drizzle some coconut water vinaigrette over your leafy greens. All you'll need is 1/4 cup coconut water, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice. Easy, right?

Coconut Water Smoothie

fruit smoothie

The easiest way to drink more coconut water is by mixing it into a delicious fruit smoothie. Instead of using dairy and vegan milk, replace it with coconut water. Doing this adds to the nutritional benefits to a traditional smoothie.

Watermelon And Coconut Ice Pops

watermelon popsicles

Recharge and cool down with a watermelon ice pop made with coconut water. Both the watermelon and coconut water help to replace fluids lost through sweating, making them a yummy way to stay hydrated.

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