Is Coconut Milk Good For Diabetes? [Expert Opinion 2022]

Dealing with diabetes is challenging. There are a lot of factors like food, physical activities, and medication that you need to keep an eye on. And eating only the right food is perhaps the toughest one.

There can be many favorite options for you, but you need to keep your consumption under control. Coconut is one of them. It may come with numerous health benefits for others. But is coconut milk good for diabetes?

Coconut milk is not a good option for diabetes for its high glycemic index (GI), around 97. Due to low glycemic loading (GL), coconut milk will take a long time to raise your blood sugar level. But eventually, the level will rise. You can try low GI alternatives like almond, soy, and skimmed milk.

Don’t get disheartened by the high glycemic index of coconut milk. There is a lot you can try that are made from coconut. Let me give you an authentic guided tour of coconut milk, alternatives, and tips for using it for diabetes.

Is Coconut Good for Diabetes Patients?

Coconut is a nutrient-rich fruit that comes with numerous health benefits. The high fiber content, saturated fat, minerals, and natural sweetness makes it a perfect choice for dealing with malnutrition and other health issues. 

However, the connection between coconut and diabetes is still not that straightforward. The fiber content makes it a favorable choice, whereas the high-fat content sheds some doubt.

The carbs in the overall coconut are a matter of concern when you are diabetic. So, if you are wondering about the connection between diabetes and coconut, I recommend focusing on all forms of consumable coconuts.

Is Coconut Milk Good For Diabetes?

is coconut milk good for diabetes

Coconut milk contains almost the same nutrients as coconut flesh. So considering this fact, fresh coconut milk (pressed from coconut meat) is fiber-rich. Dietary fibers, especially the soluble ones, help slow down sugar absorption and help keep the blood sugar levels under control.

But the high GI of the milk makes it a tough choice for diabetes patients. The high carb contents make it difficult for diabetics to consume sugar. So if you are concerned about does coconut milk spike insulin, my answer will be yes, it does.

Moreover, it contains plant sterols and calories from saturated fat. This helps to keep your cholesterol level low.

But don’t get confused with coconut milk which you generally find in the stores. They contain high calories and also added sugar. As this is the dilute version of coconut cream, can’s coconut milk can give you a sweet and creamy taste. This may also cause an imbalance in the blood sugar level of diabetics if they take this regularly.

Any conclusion? Not all can find fresh coconut milk. Again, those found in the stores are primarily sweet. So, what should a diabetic do?

Find unsweetened coconut milk!

NutrientsSweetened (Original)Unsweetened
Calories8045
Fat5g4.5
Saturated fat5g4g
Protein<1g0g
Sugar6g (added)0g
Calcium45% DV (added)45%

Coconut milk does not contain any natural sugar. So, intake of this will not spike your blood sugar. But as a precaution, it is better to take unsweetened coconut milk as it does not contain any added sugar. And unsweetened coconut milk glycemic index is much lower than the natural one.

In case you don’t have access to it and have the sweetened one, monitor your blood glucose regularly with a glucometer. This will help you find coconut milk’s effects on your blood glucose level.

Can Diabetics Drink Coconut Water?

Coconut water is a natural drink without any artificial sweeteners and preservatives. It is full of essential minerals like potassium and sodium, which maintains your electrolyte balance well and boosts your entire health.

But if you are a diabetic, is it safe? Yes, it is. The water contains only minerals and almost no sugar and carbs. So, if you are diabetic and love coconut water, go for it.

It might be beneficial for its high nutrient density:

Each cup contains:

  • Potassium: 600mg
  • Sodium: 252 mg
  • Magnesium: 60mg
  • Calcium: 57.6mg
  • Vitamin C: 5.8mg
  • Protein and fiber: 2.6g in 240g

It does not contain any refined sugar; instead, it’s naturally sweet. And has a glycemic load of 3, which does not spike your blood sugar level immediately. So, coconut water is considered better than an aerated drink. Moreover, magnesium present in it improves insulin sensitivity.

Diabetics are prone to poor blood circulation. Coconut milk widens the blood vessels and helps in improving blood circulation. This saves the diabetics from certain discomforts like blurred vision, numbness in the feet, and kidney failure. It also fights atherosclerosis.

Lastly, this keeps you energized throughout the day. It also helps in the proper metabolic functions by supporting the pH balance.

Drinking more than a specified amount may cause a massive increment in your blood sugar level. Moreover, diabetic patients are vulnerable to cardiovascular diseases. And coconut water is rich in potassium. Excess potassium is harmful to your heart.

Does Coconut Water Cause Sugar Spike?

One glass of coconut water per day without malai should be your limit.

If you stick to this routine, your sugar levels are not likely to spike. And the preferable time for having this is during half of the day/post workout. And also, having it on an empty stomach is more suitable.

However, if you have uncontrolled diabetes, you should check your blood sugar frequently. If it fluctuates, avoid having coconut water completely.

Coconut Flour for Diabetics

Compared to other flours like wheat and corn, coconut flour is better because it is low in carbohydrates. So, diabetics can prefer this over other flours due to its mild or no impact on blood glucose levels.

Coconut oil for Diabetics

Coconut oil contains MCTs, which are said to preserve your insulin sensitivity. But this was only suggested in an animal (rat) study. There is no substantial basis regarding coconut oil controlling your blood sugar level. It is also said to improve HDL levels while lowering the LDL level. But this has also got certain controversies.

Milk Substitutes for Diabetics

In different studies, it has been found that there is a correlation between milk intake and reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In today’s world, you have many milk options besides cow’s milk.

Nutrients (per cup)Almond milk (unsweetened)Soy milk (unsweetened)Oat milk (unsweetened)
Calories3979120
Carbohydrates1.52g4.01g16g
Protein1.55g7g3g
Fat2.88g4.01g5g
Fiber0.5 – 1g1g2g
Calcium516mg300g27% of the DV

Let’s look around their association with diabetes:

Almond Milk and Diabetes

You will find two sorts of almond milk in the stores: sweetened and unsweetened.

Diabetics – Be alert about what you choose! Unsweetened is the one for you.

Sugar-free almond milk contains less than 2% of carbs, whereas low-fat cow’s milk contains 5%. This makes it more preferable. Moreover, it has high protein and fat compared to carb content. As a result, it does not cause a spike in your sugar level. Hence, diabetics can easily have this without dilly dally.

Oat milk – Is it Preferable for Diabetics?

Though oat milk is available in both forms, keeping your blood sugar under consideration, unsweetened is the best one for diabetics.

Generally, this milk is high in carbohydrates and fiber but low in protein. Again, they are not as nutritious as the whole grain because they are made by straining oats.

But thinking about diabetics, almond and soy milk are much better options for them as they provide fewer carbs and more nutrients like vitamin E.

Soy Milk – Should Diabetics Go For It?

Diabetic nephropathy is one of the main issues causing disability and death amongst diabetic patients. The primary reason behind it is glomerulosclerosis which is linked to the high coagulating factors. Other relevant culprits working behind this are oxidative stress and inflammation.

A recent study has shown that soy products positively impacted inflammatory markers, coagulation, and oxidative stress indices. Liquid soy products like soy milk are low in phosphorus compared to cow’s milk and are absorbed more quickly than soy foods. Thus soy milk is preferable for patients with diabetes.

Moreover, it was seen that the serum D-dimer level decreases to a certain level after soy milk consumption. So, this is an excellent option for patients with DN. People having type 2 diabetes can also start consuming this as a part of their dietary plan instead of cow’s milk.

Here is All Answer: Is Soy Milk Good For Diabetes?

Forms of Coconut Diabetic Can Consume

There is numerous way a diabetic can consume coconut. However, you need to monitor the consumption level and frequency. As long as the intake is within the limit, there is no harm in getting all the goodness of this natural wonder.

Coconut meat
Image credit: pexels.com

Coconut meat

This is the white flesh inside the coconut.

Nutrients

1 cup shredded coconut meat contains:

  • Carbs: 10g
  • Calories: 283
  • Fat: 27g
  • Fiber: 7g
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Manganese, copper

Benefits

  • It might improve the health heart by boosting HDL.
  • It May help in reducing weight
  • Due to its high fiber content, it can aid in digestive health
  • Supports immunity.

Coconut milk

Thick coconut milk is made by squeezing the coconut flesh through cheesecloth after grating it to extract the liquid. Thin coconut milk is made by straining it for the second time after mixing it with warm water

Nutrients

1 cup of coconut milk (raw and canned) contains:

  • Carbs: 6.35 g
  • Calories: 445
  • Water: 164.71g
  • Protein: 5g
  • Fat: 48g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Vitamin B, C & E
  • Magnesium, calcium, Potassium, copper

Benefits

  • It helps in weight reduction
  • Decreases cholesterol level
  • It supports hair growth and restores damaged hair.

Coconut oil

Made by pressing fresh or dried coconut meat (corpa).

Nutrients

1 tbs of coconut oil:

  • 0 g of protein
  • 121 calories
  • 13.5 fat (11.2 is saturated)
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • Has vitamin E

Benefits

It might benefit you by:

  • Increasing HDL.
  • Controlling blood sugar by decreasing insulin resistance.
  • Reducing stress.
  • Providing shiny hair and healthy skin.
  • Improving satiety.

Coconut water

The clear liquid from the young green coconuts is termed coconut water.

Nutrients

  • Rich in electrolytes.
  • Very low calories
  • Negligible fat content

Benefits

  • Able to settle nausea and vomiting.
  • Works as a hangover remedy.

Coconut flour

It is a soft, gluten-free, natural grain derivative of dried coconut meat.

Nutrients

  • Rich in dietary fiber.
  • Good source of protein
  • Rich in manganese.
  • Low in carbohydrate

Benefits

  • It helps in reducing the risk of developing heart disease.
  • It has less effect on the blood glucose level. So preferable for diabetes.
  • A classic option for people with celiac disease.
  • Essential for cell growth and repair.
  • Supports bone health
  • Powerful antioxidant

FAQ

Does coconut milk raise blood sugar?

Yes. Coconut milk can raise blood sugar if you consume more than the permissible limit. The high GI of coconut milk makes it a dangerous choice for diabetics. Although it will take a long time to spike the blood sugar, there will be an eventual rise.

Can a diabetic consume coconut milk?

A diabetic can consume coconut milk while being cautious about the sugar and carb content of the milk. Too much of it can spike the blood sugar level in a short time. So, it is recommended for diabetics not to take one cup of milk per day.

Is coconut good for a diabetic?

Coconut itself is good for diabetic patients. They are filled with carbs, natural sugar, minerals, and protein. Regular consumption of coconut in the form of water, milk, flour, or oil will be beneficial for any diabetic patient.

Is coconut high in sugar?

Coconut contains a considerable amount of sugar. However, they are natural and do not have the same harming effect as cane sugar. So, a controlled amount of sweetness of the coconut is of no harm to any diabetic.

Conclusion

Though diabetes curtails many food items from your diet, coconut milk is not one of them. Coconut itself is a very healthy fruit. And so are the products made from it. But you must be aware of the added sugar in processed coconut products.

Other than coconut milk, there are a lot of other milk options open for you even when you have diabetes. The nutrients available in milk are pretty much helpful for everyone. But amidst everything, one thing you need to keep in mind is checking your blood sugar daily.

After starting any new milk type, you must monitor your blood sugar after having it. If it fluctuates, it is better to avoid that milk.

I hope today’s article will give you a clear idea about different coconut products and the other milk options available for diabetics and help you fight against your diabetes in a healthy, happy way.

Zahin Ibnat

Zahin Ibnat

I'm a medical student from Bangladesh. Along the path of my life, medical science has always entranced and enticed me through it's continuous advancement. I believe being health conscious and having a wholesome lifestyle should be our utmost priority. Being a medical student, I like to share my opinions and views on different aspects of medical science in order to enlighten people with knowledge and to motivate them to become aware of their own health condition. We all need to remember that health comes first! So, I hope that my work will help out and benefit people and assist them to remain hale and hearty in their daily life. Zahin Ibnat MBBS (3rd year) Armed Forces Medical College, Bangladesh

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