The Difference Between Coconut Milk and Coconut Water

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What’s the difference between coconut milk and coconut water? If you’re asking this question, you’re not alone. Many people are curious about this topic too.

Did you know that the coconut is called the tree of life? Do you know why? Because it produces many food and drink products like milk, cream, water, and oil.

In addition, almost every part of the coconut tree can be used for different purposes. Sounds crazy, right?

With the increasing popularity of coconuts, it is clear that they are having a heyday. However, shopping can be confusing with so many different coconut products now available, from milk and water to cream and oil.

To help you with this matter, we will discuss the difference between coconut milk and coconut water.


What Is Coconut Milk?

Coconut milk is not sourced directly from coconuts. It’s processed coconut meat that has been filtered, liquefied, and then diluted with water. The consistency depends on the amount of water added to create the milk.

Coconut milk is an emulsion of 2 liquids: coconut water and coconut cream. Click To Tweet

 You know that can of coconut milk you just bought for your Thai Curry? The cream will rise to the top, and water will be at the bottom. 

Typically, coconut milk is high in calories. A considerable proportion of the calories can be derived from fat.


Types Of Coconut Milk

When you buy coconut milk, there are a few different options to choose from.

  • Carton / refrigerated coconut milk
  • Canned coconut milk
  • Powdered coconut milk

Although they are all technically coconut milk, there are differences in how they are made. Their nutritional content may also vary.

Here is a comparison of various coconut products:

Canned Coconut Milk

  • Some canned coconut milk brands only contain natural ingredients like coconut and water. They don’t have any added processed sugar or preservatives. It tastes genuine and authentic. 
  • Culinary uses: Cooking with canned coconut milk is a good idea because it’s so thick. Generally, when you see recipes that call for “coconut milk,” they’re referring to the kind in cans.

Carton / Refrigerated Coconut Milk

  • Carton / refrigerated coconut milk has more synthetic vitamins, processed sugar, and preservatives compared to canned coconut milk. The flavor is not as strong as the canned variety because of the preservatives and higher water content. It’s less creamy and lower in fat. It is sometimes used as an alternative to regular milk when cooking.
  • Culinary uses: You can use it for anything you usually do with canned coconut milk. It works best in smoothies, cereals, and coffee creamer recipes.

Powdered  Coconut Milk

  • Coconut milk can also be in powdered form. Powdered coconut milk is made from dried and pulverized coconut meat mixed with casein, milk, and preservatives. Powdered coconut milk is easy to mix with water, and its consistency depends on how much liquid it gets.
  • Culinary uses: Powdered coconut milk is an excellent alternative to canned and boxed versions. You can also use it as an ingredient in your baked goods or smoothies.


Coconut Milk Pros and Cons

difference between coconut milk and coconut water


  • Contains antioxidants
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Reduces joint pain and inflammation
  • It helps prevent heart disease


  • High saturated fat content
  • Can result in high cholesterol
  • May cause allergies
  • May cause fructose malabsorption
  • It contains Guar Gum which may cause digestive problems


What Is Coconut Water?

Coconut water is the liquid you get from young and green coconut fruit. Unlike coconut milk which has a creamy taste, coconut water has a nutty and refreshing flavor. Coconut fruits used for coconut water are generally harvested at 6 to 9 months.

Coconut water has fewer calories, sodium, and more potassium than coconut milk. It contains easily digestible carbohydrates, sugar, and electrolytes.


Coconut Water vs Coconut Milk: Which is Healthier?

These products are used for different purposes, so it isn’t easy to compare them. But if you compare their nutrition information, you’ll notice a big difference in calorie and fat content.

Coconut water and coconut milk are great, but they have different nutritional profiles. 

One cup of coconut water (240 ml) has 46 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbohydrates, and 6 grams of sugar.

On the other hand, one cup of coconut milk (240 ml) has 552 calories, 57 grams of fat, 5.5 grams of protein, 13 grams of carbohydrates, and 8 grams of sugar.


How Does Coconut Milk Compare to Other Types of Milk?

Refrigerated coconut milk is plant-based milk with roughly the same amount of saturated fat as regular milk. But it has lower protein and no calcium.

One of the reasons why coconut milk is popular is because it is vegan, creamy, mildly sweet, and lactose-free.

So for those vegans who are tired of almond milk and want a more delicious, sweeter substitute to try out instead, this might be the answer.

There is evidence that MCT fats may help with weight loss and metabolism. Another study found that MCTs help suppresses appetite and decrease calorie intake by more than other types of fats.


Can You Use Coconut Water as a Substitute for Coconut Milk?

In most cases, no.

People often confuse coconut water with coconut milk because they are made from coconuts. However, these two products have very different purposes in cooking – while the former has a light flavor without much consistency, the latter has more of an impact on taste with its creamy texture.

If you have to make a recipe with coconut milk but only have coconut water on hand, you can use 1 cup of coconut water and heavy cream to replace 1 cup of coconut milk.


Coconut Water Pros and Cons

difference between coconut milk and coconut water


  • Good source of vitamins and other nutrients
  • Good source of potassium
  • Has antioxidant properties
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Blood pressure benefits


  • Ups your calories
  • Not suitable for those with allergies
  • Can cause electrolyte imbalance
  • Has diuretic properties
  • Can lower blood pressure
  • Can increase blood sugar

Coconut water and coconut milk are two great alternatives to dairy.

Coconut is one of the few plant-based sources that provide us with natural sugars, which can be helpful for people who want to go vegan. Click To Tweet

Now that you know the difference between coconut milk and coconut water, which product are you planning to buy when you head to the supermarket?

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