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Coconut Milk vs. Almond Milk

Coconut Milk vs. Almond Milk

This question has been rolling around in my head for a while now… Which is better: coconut milk or almond milk?  

From a taste standpoint, I enjoy drinking both.  Coconut milk feels more hydrating and refreshing to me, but I love the rich flavor of almond milk.

From a health standpoint, I have come to the conclusion that coconut milk is better for my health.  Have you heard of the N-3/N-6 ratio (better known as Omega-3/Omega-6 ratio)?  Both Omega-3 AND Omega-6 are necessary for good health, but they should be balanced.  (For a more scientific explanation, check out this post on Robb Wolf’s website.)  To quote Robb Wolf, “With the adoption of grain feeding our cattle and the use of seed and vegetable oils heavy in the short omega 6 fat (linoleic acid) we have witnessed a dramatic shift away from the essential fatty acid profile we’d expect to see from an ancestral diet of ~1-1 or 2-1 N-6/N-3 to more than 10-1. The health implications of this shift have not been great. The N-6 family tends to produce “pro-inflammatory” cellular signaling, while the N-3 family tends to produce “anti-inflammatory” signaling.  This is a simplification, but it get’s the idea across. More accurately, with excessive N-6 we see cellular signaling profiles that tend to promote pathology including cancer, autoimmunity and glucose dysregulation. I see this more like a band or orchestra playing out of tune than too much of one thing vs another thing, but the fact remains: folks likely get too much of the short form of N-6 fats.

So basically, we get MORE than enough N-6 fats in our diets.  That is why many of us supplement with fish oil (high in N-3 fats) to counter-balance… imbalance results in inflammation, as mentioned above.

Because nuts are high in N-6 fats, they should be a limited part of our diet.  In fact, the folks at Whole9 suggest that a serving of nuts should be limited to one closed handful.

Coconut milk should also be limited (read: you shouldn’t drink a can at a time), but not as limited, and only because it will fill you up quickly, leaving little room for all the meats and veggies that should surround it!

Therefore, because I am more concerned with my n-3/n-6 ratio than I am about my fat intake, I generally choose coconut milk over almond milk.  I already enjoy some nuts as regular snacks, and I like to use almond meal for several baked items, so if I can avoid MORE almonds in the form of milk, I will!

While we’re on the subject, let’s consider your purposes for using either milk.

*If you are just drinking either as a regular beverage, you are better off with water, unless you are trying to gain or maintain weight.  Both are easy to overdo because they are liquids.

*In coffee, either will work.  I prefer full-fat coconut milk in my coffee.  The creamy chunks melt into the dark elixir, and make a delicious treat.  Sprinkle some cinnamon on top, and you’ve got it made!

*For baking, I have found that most paleo recipes requiring milk do call for coconut milk.  But a glass of almond milk with my favorite chocolate chip cookies is AMAZING!

 

Forms Available:

I buy several forms of coconut milk

1. The full-fat version comes in a can.  Be sure to choose one with no added ingredients (except guar gum, which acts as a stabilizer, and is even “okayed” by Whole9).  The cream usually rises to the top, so you will have to stir it really well before pouring.  For storage, pour the remaining milk into a glass jar and refrigerate.

2. The lite version is just watered down a little.  I keep a few cans on hand for smoothies.  You can simply add extra water to your bottle/mason jar of full-fat coconut milk if you prefer to water it down yourself.

For more info on coconut milk, click here.

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There are also a few different forms of Almond Milk.

1. The best way to obtain almond milk is to make your own.  Simply soak 2 cups of almonds in water overnight, strain them, and then blend thoroughly with 2 cups of water.  Once the mixture is completely liquified, pour it through a very thin strainer (like the one pictured above).  I actually purchased a $2 paint strainer from Lowes Hardware, and it works beautifully.  Store in the refrigerator for one week.

2. You can also find almond milk in cartons with brands like “Almond Breeze” or “Silk.”  These do contain some preservatives, and you should look for the UNSWEETENED version to avoid added sugar.

 

Hope this helps you!

One Response to “Coconut Milk vs. Almond Milk”

  1. Thia says:

    You can make coconut milk at home too, and avoid the BPA from the can lining. :-) Here is a how-to video, from Tropical Traditions:
    http://www.freecoconutrecipes.com/index.cfm/2009/12/11/homemade-coconut-milk

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