With its creamy texture and natural sweetness, coconut milk tastes like it should be bad for you. And yet, it’s anything but that. Coconut milk, also known as nariyal ka doodh in Hindi, is often considered a ‘miracle liquid’ as “it may help protect the body from infections,” says Dr. Rahul Nagar, Dermatologist, Max Hospitals. And did you know: Coconut milk isn’t actually “milk” at all? It is a liquid that is naturally found inside mature coconuts, stored within the coconut ‘meat’. When you crack open a fresh coconut, the liquid that leaks out is coconut water. But when you blend the coconut ‘meat’ and strain it, the result is a thicker coconut ‘milk’. So, what’s the difference? As a coconut matures, more of the water inside is replaced with coconut meat. So mature coconuts tend to be better producers of coconut milk, while younger coconuts are the best producers of coconut water. Coconut water is higher in sugar and certain electrolytes, while “coconut milk is higher in healthy saturated fatty acids”, says Dr. Mukta Vasishta, H.O.D. Nutrition and Dietetics, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. It can be consumed as is or as a substitute formilk. Dr. Mukta adds, “Coconut milk is highly recommended for patients who are lactose intolerant. And contrary to popular belief, coconut milk helps increase HDL levels (good cholesterol) and decrease LDL levels (bad cholesterol). It also improves blood pressure, and helps prevent cardiac arrhythmia due to its potassium content.
Coconut milk is packed with vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6 as well as iron, selenium,sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Dr. Rahul Nagar, Max Hospitals says, “Coconut milk contains good concentration of lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid (MCFA) which gets converted to monolaurin in the body, a compound with antiviral andantibacterial properties”.
“Lauric acid is also found in mother’s milk and is known to promote brain development, bone health and immunity”, says Dr. Mukta Vasishta. Just like Dick Gregory rightly put, “Coconut milk is the only thing on this planet that comes identically to mother’s milk”.
We’ve listed 10 amazing coconut milk benefits for hair, face and skin.
Coconut Milk for Hair
1. Restores Dry, Damaged Hair
Dr. Rahul Nagar, says, “Because of its excellent moisturising properties, coconut milk can be used as a scalp tonic for dry, itchy and irritated scalp. A gentle massage for 5 minutes with home-made coconut milk followed by a hot towel can have a good nourishing effect”. This is particularly beneficial for restoring dry, damaged and brittle hair, as well as split ends.
2. Promotes Hair Growth
Coconut milk contains all the essential nutrients required for healthy hair, boosting your hair follicles and promoting hair growth. Apply coconut milk on your hair and massage for 3 to 5 minutes. Shampoo as usual, after 20 minutes.
3. Conditions Hair
You can either wash your hair with equal amounts of coconut milk and shampoo, or use coconut milk as a leave-in conditioner. This adds volume to your hair, makes it less greasy and promotes longer, thicker hair (with that shine you’ve always wanted).
Coconut Milk for Face
4. Makeup Remover
To remove your makeup, add 2 parts of olive oil to 1 part coconut milk on a cotton pad. This not only cleanses your face, but nourishes your skin deeply at the same time as well. Note: Rub gently.
5. Prevents Acne
Dr. Rahul Nagar, Max Hospitals says, “For people with oily and acne prone skin, coconut milk can be used as a cleanser due to its antibacterial properties. The fats in coconut milk do not clog pores, thereby preventing acne”.
6. Facial Scrub
“Coconut milk can also be used as a face scrub for gentle exfoliation. All you need to do is soak oats in coconut milk for 10 minutes”, adds Dr. Rahul.
7. Prevents Premature Ageing
Coconut milk has high levels of Vitamin C which helps maintain elasticity and flexibility of skin. It is also rich in copper, and prevents wrinkles, sagging skin and age spots. You can soak 6-7 almonds overnight, and peel their skins off in the morning, grind into a smooth paste and add 5-6 drops of coconut milk. Mix well and apply this paste on your face for 15 minutes, and wash it off with cold water.
Coconut Milk for Skin
8. Treats Sunburns
According to Dr. Rahul, “Application of coconut milk over sunburnt skin aids in rapid healing because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It helps by cooling the skin and reducing pain, swelling and redness”.
9. Moisturises The Skin
We’ve all heard of taking a milk bath, right? Well, it’s time to use coconut milk instead. It is a great moisturiser due its soothing properties. You can rub coconut milk on your skin directly for 20-30 minutes to combat dryness and promote healthy glowing skin. You can even add 1 cup of rose petals, ½ cup of rose water and 1 cup of coconut milk to lukewarm water in a tub. Soaking in this bath for about 15 minutes will help restore moisture in dry skin. Also, you can grind 1/2 cup of old fashioned oatmeal and mix it with 1-2 cups of coconut milk and 1 tablespoon of honey. It works wonders!
10. Treats Skin Ailments
“Gentle application of coconut milk provides an excellent moisturizing effect in dry skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis”, says Dr. Rahul. The natural fatty acids in coconut milk help treat dry and irritated skin and remove harmful bacteria.