A lot of people are aware that there is a lot of fat in coconuts and they wonder what's about coconut milk and cholesterol. If it comes to the cholesterol amount in coconut milk it's definitely equal to 0 (since cholesterol can be present only in food of animal origination). The common knowledge is that fats (especially saturated) influences the cholesterol level in blood.

Coconut Milk and CholesterolCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/floridecires/

Some basics

Everyone knows about cholesterol – it's countable, so it's easy to measure whether one has the right amount of it in blood. The negative effects on circulatory system are also obvious. It is rather an unknown fact that there are two main types of cholesterol - high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). For brevity let's just call them good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL), because only LDL is responsible for negative effects on one's health.


Fat in coconut milk

The amount of fat in a coconut milk depends greatly on the product itself. If it is raw canned coconut milk the amount of fats in it should be around 50g per 240g[914] serving and about 90% of them are saturated fats. If we're talking about comestible coconut milk produced by brands like So-Delicious the amount of fat per 240g serving is about 5g, almost only saturated fats[915]. As you can see the difference is huge. I also want to remind you that in the same serving size the cow's milk provides you with about 8g of fats from which 5g are saturated (I'm talking of course about whole milk). If you are afraid of consuming to much of the mentioned fat – cutting off raw canned coconut milk would be a good idea.

Saturated fat in coconut milk

In general saturated fats are considered as the bad ones. They are regarded as the fats responsible for increasing cholesterol level, especially bad one (LDL). If we would dig a little deeper in the saturated fats world we would find that there are different kinds of saturated fats. Coconut saturated fat molecules are made up of short and medium chain fatty acids. That kind of fat chains are mostly used as energy source and therefore they are not being stored in the body[916]. These are great news for any coconut fan.


The influence of saturated fat in coconut milk on cholesterol level

As I've mentioned in the beginning of this article saturated fats are considered to increase the bad cholesterol level. Of course that's not good. There are also some studies concerning Thais health. Coconut products (coconuts themselves, milks, oils) are extremely popular (because they are cheap and common) in Thailand and neighboring countries and the negative effect on inhabitants isn't clear. That is because the most important thing about good and bad cholesterol is their proportions, not the amounts themselves. And because fat in coconut oil increases also HDL levels therefore the negative effects are decreasing almost to zero[917].

Coconut Milk and Cholesterol(73142)Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ebarney/

Wrap up

Some people are generally sensitive if they see or hear that a product contains a lot of fats, especially saturated ones. The real thread is trans fat[918] and it's the substance you should avoid. Trans fat is decreasing the amount of HDL (good cholesterol) and increasing the amount of LDL so it's the worst possible effect on cholesterol level that can be achieved. However if you still decide that all products with high amounts of saturated fats (like canned coconut milk) are really bad for you, so you should abstain yourself from raw canned coconut milk. Comestible products like So-Delicious coconut milk and its equivalents contain the amount of saturated fat similar to cow's milk so they should be ok for you.