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What's the difference between coconut milk and coconut water?

Coconut palm (Coconut nucifera L.) is a tropical tree that produces a variety of food and beverage products, including coconut water, oil, milk, and cream.

Leche de coco Biococo
Leche de coco Biococo

However, you may be wondering what distinguishes coconut's major beverages.

This article discusses the distinctions between coconut water and coconut milk, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of consuming either.

Two distinct beverages

The coconut fruit is made up of 38% shell, 10% water, and 52% coconut flesh, which is also known as coconut meat (1Trusted Source).

Both coconut water and coconut milk are derived from the edible endosperm tissue of the fruit (2Trusted Source).

They are, however, two quite different coconut byproducts.

The coconut water

Coconut water is a delicious, transparent fluid that can be consumed directly from young green coconuts.

It is found naturally within the fruit and is known as liquid endosperm (2Trusted Source).

When juvenile coconuts grow, the coconut water hardens to become coconut meat, which is known as the solid endosperm (2Trusted Source).

However, because the maturation process does not fill the entire coconut cavity with flesh, mature coconuts may still contain some coconut water.

Coconut water is a delicious beverage known for its health benefits.

Agua de coco Biococo
Agua de coco Biococo

Coconut cream

Unlike water, coconut milk is a byproduct of the coconut processing industry.

It's created by shredding mature, brown coconut flesh and boiling it in hot water. After that, the slurry is filtered to remove any solid remains.

The amount of water needed to make the milk impacts whether it is thick or thin (2Trusted Source).

Thin coconut milk is commonly used as a substitute for cow's milk. Thick coconut milk, on the other hand, is commonly used to thicken sauces or traditional recipes in many Indian and Southeast Asian foods.

Leche de coco Biococo
Leche de coco Biococo


Coconut water and coconut milk are two distinct coconut beverages. The water is naturally found within the fruit. The milk, on the other hand, is a processed byproduct generated from coconut meat.

Various nutritional profiles

Coconut water and milk have differing nutritional profiles because they are two unique coconut beverages.

Here's a comparison of 1 cup (240 mL) coconut water and milk (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source):

Coconut water

Coconut milk




























Vitamin c






As you can see, they have substantial variances, beginning with their calorie content.

Coconut water is a low-calorie drink, however coconut milk has a high calorie count — around a 12 fold increase.

In terms of content, it's no surprise that coconut water includes 94% water and carbs, with almost no fat or protein.

On the contrary, coconut milk contains less water — around 50% — and fat is its primary nutrition (2Trusted Source).

They do, however, share some vitamin and mineral characteristics, while coconut milk has more folate and manganese and coconut water contains more sodium.

Agua de coco Biococo
Agua de coco Biococo


The nutritional profiles of coconut water and coconut milk are quite different. Coconut water contains predominantly carbohydrates and water, whereas coconut milk contains mostly fat. Nonetheless, both are high in vitamins and minerals.

The benefits and drawbacks of drinking coconut water and milk

Coconut water and milk have numerous health benefits. However, depending on your dietary objectives and demands, you may choose one over the other.

Agua de coco Biococo
Agua de coco Biococo


Coconut water has grown in popularity among physically active people due to its capacity to replenish electrolytes lost during exercise, such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium (2Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).

In addition, studies in diabetic rats suggests that coconut water may help lower oxidative stress, blood sugar levels, and A1c hemoglobin, a measure of your blood sugar during the previous three months (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

More research in rats suggests that coconut water may benefit heart health by lowering blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).

Human study is still needed to corroborate these assertions.

While 89% of the fat in coconut milk comes from saturated fats, studies suggest that it has no negative effect on blood lipid profiles (4Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).

This is because it contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which may help with weight and fat loss (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).

Agua y Leche de coco Biococo
Agua y Leche de coco Biococo


The potassium content of coconut water may help patients with high blood pressure lower their blood pressure. Those with kidney problems, on the other hand, should limit their intake (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).

Because of the kidney's inability to eliminate potassium, decreased renal function frequently results in hyperkalemia – high blood potassium levels. As a result, taking too much of this mineral may have negative consequences (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).

However, while the MCT content of coconut milk may help with weight loss, it is still a high-calorie beverage. As a result, limit your consumption to keep your "calories in versus calories out" equation under check.

Furthermore, because coconut milk is a high FODMAP drink, some experts advise limiting your intake if you have a FODMAP intolerance or are on a low FODMAP diet (18Trusted Source, 19).

Others, however, consider it a low FODMAP food. As a result, you should analyze your own tolerance to it to determine whether you should limit your intake or avoid it entirely (20Trusted Source).

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-, and polyols, which are a type of carbohydrate that can produce abdominal symptoms such as bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation in some people (21Trusted Source).

Furthermore, while coconut allergies are uncommon, they are becoming more common in the United States. If you are sensitive to coconuts, you should avoid consuming coconut water and milk (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).

Finally, whether you drink packaged coconut water or coconut milk, always read the label and avoid products with added sugars.

Sugary drinks have been related to an increased risk of diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes (24Trusted Source).

Agua y Leche de coco Biococo
Agua y Leche de coco Biococo


Coconut water and milk both have numerous health advantages. People with kidney illness should avoid coconut water, whereas those with FODMAP intolerance should avoid coconut milk. Those who are allergic to coconut should avoid both.

Agua y Leche de coco Biococo
Agua y Leche de coco Biococo

In conclusion

Because they are both popular coconut beverages, coconut water and milk are sometimes mistaken.

They are, however, two separate drinks because coconut water occurs naturally within the fruit while coconut milk is a manufactured beverage. They also have distinct nutritional profiles and culinary applications.

Although both have several health benefits, those with kidney illness should avoid drinking coconut water, while people with FODMAP intolerance should limit their use of coconut milk based on their sensitivities.

To reap the benefits of coconut water or coconut milk, avoid those with added sugars.

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