What Is The Difference Between Canned Coconut Milk, Carton-Type, And Coconut Water? Is There One I Should Be Using?

With so many different types of coconut liquid out there, it can be hard to discern the differences and which one is the appropriate one to use. For the PEERtrainer 14-Day Fresh Start Cleanse, we recommend using coconut milk from a carton! This type of coconut milk can be found in the refrigerated section of your grocery store next to the other  milks.

Coconut milk from a can is highly-dense in calories and great to add to soups and curries which call for coconut milk, but it much too thick and caloric to use in the shakes! Coconut milk from a carton, on the other hand, starts out as the same stuff as in the can, but has extra water added to thin it out, as well as some vitamins and minerals and a thickener like carrageenan or guar gum. One cup of canned coconut milk has 450 calories; one cup of carton coconut milk (unsweetened) has 45 calories, only a tenth of the amount!

Coconut water is a completely different substance. While coconut milk comes from the mature coconuts, coconut water comes from the immature green coconuts, and has a very different nutritional profile. Coconut water has virtually no fat and is high in sugar instead. It is good as a refreshing treat, especially fresh from a coconut on a beach, but is not a good substitute for use with shakes!

In short, unsweetened carton-type coconut milk, such as that offered by So Delicious, is the ideal coconut product to use for your daily shakes–it is high in medium chain fatty acids, giving your body a wonderful source of energy, and is low in sugar. Be sure to check your local grocery store’s refrigerator case for it!

Posted by , Clinical Nutrition Writer


2 thoughts on “What Is The Difference Between Canned Coconut Milk, Carton-Type, And Coconut Water? Is There One I Should Be Using?

  1. So- delicious has a new coconut/almond milk on the market. With the added protein, is this a bettet option for the 14 day cleanse or in shakes?

    • One of the biggest reasons we use coconut milk during the cleanse is so that you can take advantage of the high content of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) that coconut milk has. MCFAs are readily burned by the body for energy instead of storage making them great to add to a shake for sustained energy! The new “Almond Plus” products from So Delicious look like a quality item, but since you are already getting significant amounts of pea/rice protein from the shakes, continuing to stick with the unsweetened coconut milk and its MCFAs is the better option for now!