3 reasons why coconut milk may not be your friend

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Coconut milk is often a staple fat source for those following a Paleo diet. From a nutritional perspective, it’s an excellent choice. It’s high in saturated fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are both easily burned as fuel by the body. MCTs are particularly beneficial in that they don’t require bile acids for digestion, and they’re directly shunted to the liver via the portal vein.

Coconut milk and fruit can be a great snack for Paleo folks, and coconut milk smoothies make a great Paleo breakfast choice – especially in the summer.

So what could be wrong with coconut milk? Here are three things to consider.

Bisphenol-A

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical that has been used in consumer goods since the 50s. It’s found in reusable drink containers, DVDs, cell phones, eyeglass lenses, automobile parts and sports equipment. While the research on BPA is still mixed (some studies indicating harm and others not), given the uncertainty I think it makes sense to avoid it whenever possible.

BPA is used in the lining of certain canned foods. BPA especially leaches into canned foods that are acidic, salty or fatty, such as coconut milk, tomatoes, soup, and vegetables. Is BPA exposure common? You bet. This CDC report found BPA in the urine of 93% of adults. Perhaps most troubling is that companies like Nestle, Similac, Enfamil and PBM all use BPA in the linings of metal cans holding baby formula. This is scary in light of a recent study which found an association between neurobehavioral problems in infants and high levels of BPA in their mothers.

So what’s the solution here? In short, if you want to be on the safe side and reduce your exposure to BPA, you have to reduce your consumption of canned foods (including coconut milk) as much as possible. I made this recommendation in 9 Steps for Perfect Health-#3: Eat Real Food. A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that families who ate fresh food for three days with no canned food, and using only glass storage containers, experienced a 60% reduction of BPA in their urine. The reductions were even higher (75%) for those with the highest BPA levels at the beginning of the study.

The good news, however, is that there are at least two brands of coconut milk that don’t have BPA in them. One is Native Forest, which you can purchase on Amazon if it’s not available at your local store. The other is Arroy-D, which is a brand imported from Thailand. You can get it here (but you have to scroll down and order the version that comes in cartons, not the cans at the top). I’m a little suspicious of Arroy-D, though, because one Thai reader mentioned that it does contain other ingredients aside from coconut milk. I don’t read Thai, so I can’t confirm this. If anyone out there can, please leave a comment below.

Coconut milk can also be made quite easily at home, with coconut flakes, a blender and cheesecloth. Here’s a video to show you how (get a load of the soundtrack). I find that blanching the coconut flakes prior to blending improves the results.

Guar gum

The other potential problem with canned coconut milk is guar gum. Guar gum is a galactomannan, which is a polysaccharide consisting of a mannose backbone with a galactose side group. It’s primarily the endosperm of guar beans.

Beans and legumes have a variety of compounds in them that make them difficult to digest, especially for people with digestive problems (1 in 3 Americans, from the latest statistics). In my clinical experience, many patients with gut issues improve when they remove guar gum from their diet—including canned coconut milk.

Unlike BPA, there’s no evidence that guar gum may cause serious harm. So, if you’re able to tolerate guar gum, there’s no reason to avoid it. If guar gum does give you digestive trouble, Native Forest has just released a new version of its product that doesn’t contain it, and Arroy-D also does not have it. The other option, of course, is making coconut milk at home.

Fructose malabsorption

Fructose malabsorption (FM) is a digestive disorder characterized by impaired transport of fructose across the small intestine. This results in increased levels of undigested fructose in the gut, which in turn causes overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. Undigested fructose also reduces the absorption of water into the intestine.

The clinical effects of FM include: intestinal dysbiosis, changes in motility, promotion of mucosal biofilm, and decreased levels of tryptophan, folates and zinc in the blood. Symptoms produced include bloating, gas, pain, constipation or diarrhea, vomiting and fatigue (to name a few). Recent research has also tied fructose malabsorption to depression.

Lest you think this isn’t a common problem, studies have shown that up to 40% of people in Western countries suffer from fructose malabsorption.

Even in healthy people without fructose malabsorption, however, only about 20-25g of fructose can be properly absorbed at one sitting. Glucose assists in transport of fructose across the intestine, so in general foods with equal amounts of glucose and fructose will be better absorbed than foods with excess amounts of fructose (in relation to glucose).

While fructose malabsorption can cause symptoms in anyone, those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are particularly affected. While the prevalence of FM is the same in healthy populations and those with IBS & IBD, the experience of FM appears to be more intense in the latter group. This is probably due to the increased visceral sensitivity common in IBS and IBD patients.

In fact, one of the most promising clinical approaches to treating IBS & IBD right now is something called the FODMAP diet. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides And Polyols. These include:

  • fructose (fruits, honey, HFCS)
  • fructans (wheat, onions)
  • lactose (milk sugar)
  • polyols (sugar alcohols like sorbitol, xylitol & mannitol, along with fruits like apples, pears and plums)
  • galactooligosaccharides (legumes & beans, brussel sprouts, onions)
  • other sweeteners like polydextrose and isomalt

Studies have found that restricting FODMAPs can significantly improve the symptoms associated with IBS, IBD and fructose malabsorption.

What does this have to do with coconut milk, you ask? According to Drs. Gibson & Barrett, experts in fructose malabsorption, coconut milk is is a FODMAP and should be avoided by people with digestive conditions like IBS & IBD.

According to NutritionData.com, coconut milk has very little sugar of any kind – including fructose. Nevertheless, I do have patients that cannot even tolerate homemade coconut milk (which has no guar gum in it), even though they are fine with coconut oil. I assume that they are reacting to the fructose in the coconut milk – but I can’t be sure.

Recommendations

Let’s bring this together into recommendations for three different groups of people:

  • Women who are trying to get pregnant, pregnant or breastfeeding, children and other vulnerable populations (chronically ill): should avoid canned coconut milk products except for those that are BPA-free, like Native Forest and Arroy-D. Note: Native Forest is organic, but Arroy-D is not.
  • People with digestive problems (IBS, IBD, GERD, etc.): may want to avoid coconut products entirely, except for coconut oil
  • Healthy people: may be fine with canned coconut milk, provided they don’t react to the guar gum, and provided they’re willing to take the side of industry scientists that claim BPA doesn’t cause harm in humans

Want organic coconut milk – but without the BPA and guar gum?

As of the time of this writing there is no widely available commercial brand of coconut milk that is organic and free of BPA and guar gum. The good news, however, is that with a little extra effort you can easily make this at home yourself.

  • Purchase coconut cream (Let’s Do Organic and Artisana are good choices) and blend with water to make coconut milk.
  • Purchase shredded coconut (again, Let’s Do Organic is a good choice), and follow the instructions below for making homemade coconut milk.

Homemade coconut milk instructions

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Heat water until hot (but not boiling).
  • Add shredded coconut and water to blender (preferably a Vitamix!) If all of the water won’t fit, you can add it in two batches.
  • Blend on high for several minutes until thick and creamy.
  • Pour through a colander to filter out the coconut pulp, then squeeze through a cheese cloth
    or nut milk bag to filter the smaller pieces of coconut.
  • If you separated the water into two batches, put the strained coconut back into the blender with the second batch of water.
  • Drink immediately or store in the fridge. Fresh coconut milk should be used within 3-4 days of making it for the best flavor and texture.

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Comments Join the Conversation

    • Chris Kresser says

      Apparently you didn’t read the article. The last section explains why even homemade coconut milk can cause problems for people.

        • Croswind says

          for >>1 in 3 people, which is a lot. I am one and can attest to what Chris said. I have improved by removing canned coconut milk AND most container dairy free milks because most of them have CARAGEENAN and Gums. Look up Carageenan article by Ray Peat and see how damaging to the gut it is.

          • ric says

            yes, and the same 1 in 3 people are going to get problem from a whole lot of other natural foods too. the truth be known that such digestive problems are caused not from the natural foods, but through years of continued ingestion of processed foods and/or foods for which our digestive systems are not evolved to consume- the reaction to these natural foods that are suppose to be part of the human diet are will in the majority of cases be a symptom.

            • Al says

              Aha!! I have refrained from commenting on these postings, but Ric has stated something I have suspected from the begining. After years of subjecting a digestive system to crap, anything that would cleanse or mitigate inflamation may have an initial adverse reaction. It is then easy to think that that new thing you ingested is the culprit. Best example is when people suddenly for the first time ever increase their fibre comsuption. This fibre would unleash a ton of toxins making people very ill which would cause people to think that fibre is bad. It’s like asbestos removal; it’s fine until you attempt to remove it. It is further complicated if commercial coconut milks have stuff it shouldn’t have and that may actually be aggrivating the situation. Not an easy diagnosis for doctors and the best tool is knowlwdge to empower people to diagnose themselves accurately.

              • Dana says

                No, your gut reacts badly to the introduction of more fiber because you’re not used to having it in your gut. And it’s probably mostly insoluble fiber which can actually damage the gut lining–so if you have to do this, get as much of your fiber soluble as possible. If you have any questions about what a food contains, the USDA nutrition database breaks down the fiber content of foods by type of fiber. So just look it up.

                • Susan says

                  No, gut reaction and damage to gut lining, with the introduction of more insoluble fiber, is caused from not drinking enough fluids. I have worked with diets of the elderly (90-102 years in age) for many years, and ALL of them never experienced any constipation or intestinal or gut disturbances when given a very high insoluble fiber diet (30-45 grams daily) WITH plenty of fluids. Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables are important as well. Health overall also improved greatly. In the case of diverticulitis, the only way it clears up is to not have any insoluble fiber in the diet for a few weeks…UNTIL it clears up, and then the ONLY way it will not recur, is to introduce slowly a diet high in insoluble fiber WITH lots of fluids. NO white/processed grains. Most 100% whole grain bread has very little whole grains in it with white/processed grains mostly added along with it. Insoluble fiber comes from many sources, not just whole grains. On the other hand, insoluble fiber is for carrying cholesterol out from the body. This has worked in 100% of all cases.

                • Ally says

                  You are right, I brutally decided to become a vegetarian despite my love of meat and dairy. I wanted to be healthy to say goodbye to my acne, to my constant fatigue, to my dull complexion. I stopped eating animal protein all together, and it was 50% of my daily diet ! I replaced it with whole raw carrots and fresh spinach and fruits and salad etc…within one week I developed a bad case of bowel obstruction, I thought it was appendicitis, and it could have turned that way. I fasted for 3 days, only water and honey and finally, managed to have a bowel movement. Now I eat brown/white rice every time I eat veggies and I also snack on gluten free bread.

              • Linda says

                When someone switches over from a “processed food” diet to a natural diet of whole foods, the body doesn’t recognize the natural food. You may experience stomach upset or other symptoms while the body adjusts to the change. It will pass. Detox is a good thing to do under a health professional’s guidance, or use clay to safely detox before switching. (www.aboutclay.com)

        • Michelle says

          This is so disheartening. I have had GERD since last year and have had to restrict my diet for that. I’ve also gut out gluten and reduced rice consumption (due to arsenic levels), so my diet is restricted even further. Coconut cream, flakes, coconut water and coconut milk (I use another BPA-free brand you didn’t mention) have become staples in my current diet and now I find I can’t have those either? Good Lord, what is left for me to eat?! :(

      • Meredith says

        I was also disapointed as I only drink So Delicious.
        The article makes it sound like those are the only non canned coconut milks.
        Thanks for the info you did provide, but inwas looking for more, like Emilee, and I did indeed read the entire article.

        • Paula says

          So Delicious Coconut “Milk” is not just the coconut extracted milk; it is a “beverage”. Read the ingredients.

        • swissik says

          Equally as good as So Delicious is the Trader Joe brand, and less expensive. The article is disappointing though.

      • Paul says

        Seriously? That’s the best you got? BPA, fructose, and guar gum? I’ll show you why your article sucks.
        BPA- buy coconut milk in widely available cartons
        Fructose- not a problem if you are tolerant
        Guar gum- totally harmless

        What’s next? An article on the dangers of distilled water?

        • Chris Kresser says

          The vast majority of people buy coconut oil in cans. Many people have IBS or other gut issues, which are worsened by fructose intolerance. Guar gum also causes digestive distress in a substantial number of my patients with gut issues. The point of this article is to bring attention to these concerns, not to condemn coconut milk itself.

          • Sabrina says

            If the article isn’t meant to condemn coconut milk itself, why is it named, “3 reasons why coconut milk may not be your friend?” I definitely felt misled after reading the article. There are many, many products that come in cans and contain fructose.

            • says

              I think the title was perfect.

              “3 reasons why coconut milk MAY not be your friend?”

              Dictionary.com;
              May
              1. (used to express possibility): It may rain.

              You are confusing “may” with “is” or some other word implying something definite.

            • Chris Redmond says

              Maybe I’m missing something here?

              To me the article basically states coconut Milk is good for most people, but canned coconut milk (and canned foods/drinks in general) should be avoided in favour of cartoned milk.

              If the article was meant to condemn coconut milk, why on earth would links to retailers of coconut milk be provided along with a recipe for readers to make their own?

              Sabrina I really do think you are way off the mark in assuming a negative portrayal of coconut milk in this article, and I for one will be either buying or making my own coconut Milk on the strength of the information given by Chris here.

            • Corey says

              Judging an article by its title, rather than its content, is the proof of illiteracy in people. Try reading first, rather than assuming blindly like an idiot people.

          • Betsy says

            Hello, I agree with the information provided and thought it was well written. The people responding by attacking you makes it seem like they are emotionally disturbed after all the article is about coconut milk and your experience with it in your practice and how it MAY disturb some people. People here are responding as if you said something bad about their mom. I have been drinking a lot of canned coconut milk in shakes lately, it’s sooooo delicious, but I have started to have stomach issues. Thank god for this article because now I can eliminate it from my diet for a while and see if it is the culprit. If it is this article will have saved me an expensive trip to the doctors & LAN work. As I don’t have insurance. People calm down if the information doesn’t suit you it doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable to someone else and there is no reason to negatively attack someone who’s goal has good intentions which is to help others.

            • g gonzalez says

              Betsy:
              “there is no reason to negatively attack someone who’s goal has good intentions which is to help others”… but you just called all who responded differently than you “emotionally disturbed”. Isn’t that an attack??
              I don’t see how emotions come into play about this either…
              This article is informational, but misleading due to a poor choice of a title and that’s where most of the fuss is coming from. That’s all.

          • Sue says

            I am testimony to the effects of coconut milk and IBS. I bought cartons and started to feel grumbly tum and then diohrea. I checked about coconut milk and found it was no good for IBS sufferers. I was using it in hot drinks and on cereals. :(

          • Kat says

            I know this comment was posted almost a year ago, but I do have to agree with what Sabrina wrote. This post and title are misleading. As we are trying to navigate through all of the Do’s and (soo many) Don’ts of the Paleo life style, it is very disheartening to read post where the intention is not clear. If the first impression you want to give people is a negative one (like using a title that “condemns” coconut milk) then no one will appreciate the message or information you are trying to convey.
            Even though I am little confused on FODMAP, I think the information was useful and I will start making my own coconut milk rather than buy canned.
            Hope this helped

            • Julia says

              The title is “misleading” because it’s actually a copywriting trick. Copywriters are taught to snag a reader’s attention by creating attention-getting headlines. Seems like it worked :-).

              • Smith says

                Agree with Julia, the title seemed to be a bait to get you to read thinking what is bad in coconut milk. Didn’t appreciate that. But article is informative otherwise.

                And saying the fructose in it is not tolerated by people with gut problem coupled with the title makes it look like coconut milk, even home made may not be good in general. Such generalization is not fair. If we apply same logic and generalize we can use lactose intolerance by some as the reason for generalizing ‘ why Milk may not be your friend’.

                It is true that if you go word by word and argue the title uses ‘may’ and not ‘is’, so grammatically such a generalization is not put forward, but the tone of the article and the first impression on reading the title misleads one or puts the thrust on coconut milk rather that some things to consider when consuming Coconut Milk. I would have considered a more appropriate title would have been ‘ Things to consider while consuming Coconut Milk’

              • says

                I’m glad you mentioned the need for attention-grabbing headlines. Sometimes things just need to stand out in the inbox, away from all of the other clutter – or articles just don’t get read. But there’s a difference between attention-grabbing and misleading. I don’t think this article misleads!

                My partner and I have been piecing together this information ourselves, but the information has been acquired from different sources and I haven’t read a post before that combines all these threads. Thanks to Chris for doing the research and presenting this information in this format. I am very sad that coconut is not my friend!! Partner gets on extremely well with coconut milk but sadly I get cramps and bloating. I don’t get on well with FODMAPs. Very frustrating as coconut is a great ingredient in smoothies. Have tried BPA-free Arroy-D for the reasons mentioned above but it just does not agree with me … Apologies for all of the rude readers who simply criticise without reading and understanding the content!

            • Gabriel says

              If you have digestive disorders or are guar gum intolerant, the title of the article is perfect for you. I can’t believe people are complaining about the title.

          • patty says

            I was told that ALL processed (not from actual coconut) products are of no nutritional benefit since they are pasturized hence removing vital nutrients. Even the ones that add vitamins back in are not adding in electolytes etc.. I do like the idea of making it from fresh coconut chips.

          • bikeamtn says

            Wow; you got your work cut out for you sir – that or the banter results form a nation’s battle with ADD.

            • Robert says

              I wondered the same with boxed Organic Almond Milk. When I tried it in my cappuccino it tasted like cardboard. Then I read the ingredients on the carton – WOW! Btw, Carageenan is a known carciogenic. I started making Almond Milk in my Vita-Mix – OMG what a difference! I will start doing the same with Coconut Milk.

          • Maria says

            Why does guar gum cause digestive issues? We have gluten dairy and egg allergies so gluten free baking is difficult because without gluten or eggs to “glue” it together it usually falls apart. I was using guar gum which I purchased at a health food store to substitute. I have no idea if we are having a reaction. Are there other ingredients in place of it that someone can recommend?

        • Al says

          I have to agree. The header of the article sounds ominous, specially for those who depend on coconut to manage their digestive conditions.
          If canned coconut milk is the issue then write an article about canned stuff, not coconut.. dughhh

          • Chris Kresser says

            Did you read the article? One of the main points is that coconut milk causes digestive problems for people, especially when it has guar gum.

            • Liz says

              Hi Chris

              I’m just wondering if by the same rationale that coconut aminos would present a problem?
              I found it, love it, but just a couple days ago started getting some major digestive upset a few hours after consumption. This has happened twice now. Maybe coincidence?

              • Liz says

                Hi Chris,

                I’ve asked the same question twice, and lack of response indicates to me that you either don’t know or don’t care. As far as me being on the fence as hiring you as a consultant, I have to now say: why bother?

                • Chris Kresser says

                  Liz: I get about 50-75+ comments on my blog and about 40+ questions sent to me via email every day, in addition to my the work I do for my radio show, special reports, Facebook page posts, and tweets – all offered free of charge. There’s no way I can get to every question or comment posted. I’d have no time for my family, taking care of myself or doing the work I love that also happens to support me financially (working with patients) so I can provide all of this for free. Admittedly, which questions get answered is somewhat arbitrary, and depends mostly on when I am able to login and scan the comments and how much time I have to respond. I also try to answer a wide range of questions rather than focus on one person or one thread.

                  In any event, to answer your question, coconut aminos won’t have the same issues listed here because they are amino acids (protein), do not contain guar gum and are not generally sold in cans that would have BPA.

                • Amazed by the Rudeness! says

                  Hey Liz

                  Chris has very kindly responded to your insolent comment and you have not even bothered to respond with a simple thanks. This indicates that you either don’t know or don’t care.

                  Thanks for all that you do Chris!

            • patty says

              yea, but then you said ALL coconut (homemade or not) is bad for GERD and IBS.
              so canned or not, we should not use ANY coconut foods ????

              • trina says

                I think the point is to test it and see how you personally do on it. Because it “may” give you problems. I do okay with coconut oil and water but not as well with the milk or flesh.

            • Jon says

              Oh my goodness… ‘people’ have lost their reading comprehension abilities. The title and content of the article are perfectly fine. Chris, great article.

              • Molly says

                Agreed Jon (March 28) and down below to Jewels (July 31).

                Chris, very informative and very detailed article. It was exactly what I was looking for. :) and the fact that you provide this information for free is very nice.

            • Jewels says

              The article was just fine. You gave many reasons why coconut milk may not be good fro SOME people. Never once in the article, nor the title, did you condemn coconut milk all across the board or make a generalized comment that it is bad for everyone.

              Your article was full of the various reasons it could be friend or foe. If a person can tolerate coconut milk but buy it with these additives or bad cans, it is not really your friend. If you can’t tolerate it doesn’t matter how it is made it is a foe. You were extremely thorough and accurate.

              I think the people taking the article to the negative extreme are; 1 – putting words in your mouth, 2 – making total assumptions. They read it a certain way and assume everyone else is going to read it that way as well. They are the ones taking the article out of context. It is like they are looking for someone to banter and argue with.

              You were very clear Chris that it may be harmful to some people. You pointed out which brands and containers and varieties one can use (concentrate), and which are best to buy. You explained how to make it from scratch in case people can’t buy the safer canned ones.

              Those posters were being very ridiculous. It MAY not be your friend……. or it MAY be your friend people.

              I think they are taking it way too serious, like on an emotionally involved level. Weird!

            • jules says

              I Have a comment and question for Chris
              I have started making coconut milk smoothies for breakfast as part of a move towards paleo eating and have noticed a grippy, grumbly pain in my gut about 20 mins after drinking which gradually disappears an hr or 2 later. I didn’t link the symptoms to possibly the coconut milk but now it makes sense due to the timing of the episodes. Can I replace the tinned milk (which says is pure and organic! – no mention of guar gum) with coconut cream (which I can buy in a cardboard container) and coconut water (also available in cartons)?

              • Robin says

                Hi Jules.
                Sorry about your tummy issues with the canned coconut milk. If your coconut milk is, indeed, guar gum free, then you are probably having an issue with the fructose in the coconut, or just the coconut itself. If that is the case, then switching to a coconut cream and water combo will probably not help at all.
                What other ingredients go into your smoothie? Could one of those possibly be the culprit? Have you tried eliminating one ingredient at a time and noting the results?
                Maybe you could try Kefir, instead. That could actually help with a grumbly tummy.
                Good luck!

        • TyAnne says

          Oh, brother! Excellent article if you read and comprehend. It helped me a lot because I want to have a healthy gut. If I buy coconut milk, I will not buy canned. However, since coconut milk is a FODMAP, I may avoid it.

          Don’t shoot the messenger.

          • says

            I think some people don’t understand the definition of the word “may.” I don’t think your title was misleading or fear-inducing or whatever else people are complaining about. It simply draws attention to potential problems with something that is otherwise a nutritious food.

            I’m curious how much fructose is actually in coconut milk. On the nutrition labels it shows the sugar content as only 1 gram per serving.

            • Crystal says

              Why are people being so rude and jugmental on here? I thought it was a good article. I have gut issues and it’s good to know these things. I’m sure if you met the doctor in person you wouldn’t be speaking to him this way.

              • Ez says

                People jumping the gun are not getting the gist of the article. If the author has some great info, take that out of it, but to get stuck on themes and semantics….jeeez!

                A note. For some folks this food may exacerbate the condition of diarrhea. But, if you’re like ME, and have IBS with severe constipation, coconut oil and fat is considered a remedy. Enough said.

              • STEPHANIE says

                I was going to say the same thing. Give the guy a break!! Hes a doctor that is giving free advice…This is something he does on the side to help people and you are going to sit and complain because his header was misleading???? Who cares???? Wow!You act like you never make a mistake!

              • Stephanie B says

                People are upset because the contents of the article was different from its packaging. Some may find this article useful if they drink canned coconut milk or have digestive problems. For the other half who drink from a carton and are fairly healthy, it would have been useful if it were more like a LiveStrong article containing nutrition facts about coconut milk, which is what we expected out of the title.

                If I met him in person it would most likely be doctor to patient. Personally, I think it would be highly unprofessional for a doctor to mislead patients first hand by making them think they shouldn’t drink coconut milk.
                If he were to walk around the hospital saying “There are 3 good reasons why coconut milk is bad for you” , people would instantly believe him because he is a doctor, they wouldn’t doubt that he has 3 good reasons for why it is bad for them. That’s because doctors know the science of the body and we need their help to keep our bodies healthy. It is their job to help people.
                Reeling someone in with a title like ’3 reasons why coconut milk may not be your friend’ is a sleazy trick people use to get more views. Which is why its link was on the top of the first page in Goggle when I searched ‘What is coconut milk made of?’.
                It appears as if he is just trying to help by stating some widely unknown facts about canned coconut milk, and how coconut milk is just one of the food items you should avoid if you have digestive problems. Yes, this information is not going to hurt me to know, even if its useless for me since I’ve never even heard of canned coconut milk and I am young and healthy with no digestive issues so far. Yes, this information probably helped some people. Yes, he is a doctor during his work hours (I assume). Common sense says, doctors who are writing articles to help people will write with truth. They will keep things strictly professional, clear, factual, and organized. A doctor who’s writing to help people, will title his article very appropriately as to guide people in the right direction like a professional with years of education would do. That is their job.
                Having a catchy title to draw the audience in may be a golden rule of good writing but there are two extremely different reasons for writing, one being for entertainment and the other for education. Its a plus to have entertaining education, sure, but its meant to make learning fun and exciting for people, not to trick you into reading something.

                So with that in mind I want to say first that the readers of this article are almost all adults seeking nutritional facts about something we consume ourselves or know of someone who does. If a poll were taken on the reason why people read this article, I’m sure the number one reason would be because they wanted to know what they are putting in their body. Not because it had a playful title. Not because they have digestive problems. Not because they wanted to know specifically about what they put in canned coconut milk that makes it unhealthy.
                We do not need a badly chosen, playful, title about 3 reasons a drink you like may not be your friend. We aren’t children and we aren’t looking to be entertained. This isn’t a tabloid magazine we are looking at, we aren’t looking to be thrown some random information like in a gossip column.
                People seeking to learn scientific facts are looking for specific, organized, information. Which is why some of us were annoyed by this article. If every link I clicked on to educate myself about coconut milk lead to misleading articles like this which did nothing for me but take about 5 minutes of my time to shove useless information into my head, I would never learn about how it effects me which is why I clicked the link.

                So even though its harmless, I learned a few random things, and he appears to be helping like a doctor does, this article still sucks. He’s obviously an intelligent man. He could have easily changed the title to ‘Watch out coconut milk lovers’ or ‘Coconut Milk: 3 Things You Didn’t Know’. He would still get views.

                Overall its just sloppy and misleading and there’s nothing wrong with people expressing how they feel about that. Its better that the writer know what they can do to improve. He may be arguing that he’s done nothing wrong, but a person who truly means right will be honest with themselves.

                • Shawn says

                  Stephanie,
                  You, and the others are too emotionally attached to this to be objective. As most of the people have pointed out, the title was clear and in no way misleading. I have never tried coconut milk but because I am trying to learn the ins and outs of the Paleo way of life, I was very interested in what this article had to say. I have the feeling most of those who objected to the title and/or the article have not read many articles written by Chris. He always provides clear concise information that is not tainted by the hysteria encountered in so many places on the Internet. I was in disbelief when I read the first complaint and bemused when more followed. The people posting these negative comments have one thing in common. They are inordinately emotionally attached to the subject. I suggest that these folks would benefit greatly from a bit of empathy in their emotions. We all have better things to do than engage in accosting someone who’s intentions are obviously the best. I, and many others, value every word Chris takes his time to share. I don’t always find every word to be relevant to my situation, but neither should anyone else.
                  Cheers!!

          • Linda Lee says

            Loved this article. My hubby was at the grocery trying to pick out the healthiest coconut milk ( wanted to try it since I’ve heard good health benefits exist from the use of coconut milk. So I did a search to let him know which brand to get…and thank goodness I landed on your site! Your information is excellent-of course I am a RN and understood every word you shared -an RN with IBS and other gut related issues…so I called hubby right back upon completing this read and said don’t buy any of it yet. I think it is a most informative read. Thank you for sharing your expertise. I am a writer too…and find the best way to deal with catty responses is to treat them with benign neglect. That said…you have no need to dignify haughty comments with any response at all. You are the expert and those of us who understand the functions of the body understand your perspective completely.

            Thank you for sharing your expertise.

          • Marsh says

            Coconut in all forms are safe on a Low FOPMAP diet. This comes from Kate Scarlata who is an expert on the Low FODMAP diet. It was tested in Australia where the cutting edge research is being done. That’s not to say some people may have individual issues with it.

          • michelle noe says

            Dear Chris, Thanks for the great articles, I really appreciate the care and expertise you put into your work. Would like to add a bit of info; the reason for the lining on the cans is because they found that lead from the seam of the can was leaching into acidic foods. So a can without the lining might not be the best choice for health. I know that this problem is extreme with high acid foods such as tomato products, but might also be a problem with fatty foods as well.

            • Sarah Orr says

              My God! I would have read the article, bookmarked under it under health and fitness and moved on. As I read the comments; in some instances they prove to be useful. I began thinking to myself, “People need to really get a grasp on what is important in life.” Admonishing a man who is offering us information for free, that we might not have known is a futile waste of time. You would think he was aiding in the development of the Iran nuclear arms program for goodness sake. My father was recently killed in a motorcycles accident. I literally was watching tv and got a call at 9:11 p.m. on a Tues. evening and in 2 sec. your life changes. Concern yourself with those realities of life not this petty nonsense. I don’t bring my dad up for any exploitive measures simply to make a point. Stop being an argumentative and miserable bunch. Take life with a grain of salt, go for a run with your dog, listen to your favorite song and dance or really live life on the edge and open up a can of coconut milk and get on with it.

              • Taryn says

                Sarah — THANK YOU for this reply!

                And Chris Kesser, thank you for offering millions of people free health information instead of aiding in the development of nuclear arms! The title of your article was carefully-worded — please keep up your work.

              • Stephanie B says

                On one hand I agree but your argument is kind of silly since you are also taking part in the discussion you find so ridiculous. I think you have the right idea though.

                People seem to waste time and energy on things that don’t matter to us or to anyone. If it is a waste of time and energy to you, then that is all it can be. You cannot judge what others are passionate about to be wasteful for them or anyone else.

                I’ve argued in this article, youtube, and other places on the internet. I’m not miserable at all. I enjoy a good debate if its something I truly believe in. I don’t get angry, its not a fight to me. Even when people say nasty things to me, I continue to debate without feeling offended.

                Recently, I replied to a comment on Youtube which stated that graphics don’t make a game good. I stated that in my opinion, having graphics that I can enjoy makes up a large portion of what makes a game fun for me. I also stated that many people who play video games feel the same way.
                A month or so passed and I noticed in my email that tons of people replied to my comment. They flagged my comment until it was removed from youtube. I was called a troll, slut, whore, fake gamer girl who just wants attention, that I don’t deserve to be called a gamer. None of the comments bothered me. They were expressing their passion for video games in an extreme way, they were enraged with me.
                I replied to each person calmly. Telling them it was just a personal opinion and I didn’t mean to offend anybody. And to each person who insulted me, I said that it doesn’t matter who they think I am or if they like me because I know I’m a kind, loving, talented, intelligent, and beautiful person, who works hard to be the best I can. And to the young man who called me a slut right off the bat, I told him that insults like that don’t work on grown women, and that anyone who is quick to call someone they don’t know a slut over something like that, must feel disconnected from everyone around them.

                I didn’t say that to insult him, and I didn’t write back to each person who expressed anger toward me out of my own frustration. I did it because I want to help people.

                You mentioned that your father passed, and how hard it was for you. I can’t imagine losing my dad, he held onto my sister and I through very hard times, and I was always close to him growing up.
                Everything changed because you finally understood the value of life.. right?
                Or was it more like you already understood, but you were a bit lost without realizing it?
                Making the wrong turns unintentionally. Making mistakes without even realizing it. Until you lost a loved one. That’s when you remembered who you really are. Which direction is the right one. But you will still make mistakes. Each time you do, you realize it faster than before when you were lost. You feel stronger inside than before.

                I know that its true that you knew deep down who you were. You’ve always known that you are truly a good person. You’ve always known that you deserve happiness and freedom. All of the times you struggled in life, when you felt alone, misunderstood. You struggled the most, felt the most alone, and misunderstood, when you would look at who you are inside and wonder why you deserve to struggle. And sometimes, you would think about how much better you are than to let people or life walk all over you, and you would become strong for a moment. Until another steep hill stood in your path.

                I know this is true because we are all the same. We were all children once, all we wanted was to be loved and accepted. Almost all of us go through the same past. Lack of love and acceptance as a kid is usually where it starts. Then we go on into a life where materialistic things are what make us feel confident on the outside. But we never forget what we truly desire. Love.

                We all go through hard times and sometimes it gets harder to handle as we get older. People who are lost do destructive things. A lot of it is unintentional. Changing our appearance with surgery and cosmetics. Lying. Going behind peoples backs. Judging one another. Disconnecting.

                I think that most people go through that. Which is why I don’t allow myself to measure my hardships to be less or more than anyone else’s. Even though I’ve been through times I can’t believe I survived. I believe that just like our life in these bodies, our souls need to experience death and birth. There cannot be life without death, or birth.

                It may not look like it at first, but we struggle the most with ourselves. When we become lost and are in complete denial of it, there is no death or birth of our souls. Our lives then, are lived through our physical selves. But no matter how hard we try to give life meaning through our physical selves, with money, clothes, cars, anything materialistic, we still feel unsatisfied. People sometimes don’t even see how unhappy they are. They feel unhappy without those items, they feel hateful towards others, they need new stuff to stay satisfied with life.

                Nowadays people get stuck in that phase where we feel alive through materialistic things and stay that way for the rest of our lives. Where we judge everyone and they judge us.

                When you lost your father, your soul experienced death. You felt like you were dying inside at first, but here is why it changed your life in the end.

                Love.

                I believe that when we pass away, love is all we leave behind for the people we became close to. That our bodies die but our souls which are built upon love, break apart and give pieces of strength to our loved ones.

                Love exists in death and birth. That is why you don’t feel alive inside when you don’t have love. Love gives us life. Love is what our souls are made of. Your loss brought you back to life through love.

                People who are disconnected push pain away pretending they are happy and don’t care. They know deep down that they aren’t happy though. So how do these people take their lives back? Without losing someone close?
                That is what I had to figure out on my own.

                I found that a lost person cannot be found until they see they are lost. In order for us to see we are lost, we need to remember who we are and the importance that love holds inside of us. We need to love ourselves, be ourselves, accept ourselves. Sometimes all it takes for someone lost to see that they are, is for someone to come along and remind them. Show them that they are wrong.

                The only way to do that is by always giving people respect and staying calm as much as possible. When you are kind always to people, or show them respect even when they don’t show it to you, that moment will stick with them. They will wonder why you would do something like that for them even after they treated you horribly. They will remember how it felt to be respected. Its like showing them acceptance they never had from anyone else. Like you understand which is why you don’t try to hurt them back.

                Maybe it sounds like it will never work to some people. But people need to remember that we are all the same. Love is powerful and if you love yourself and others, you can live happily.

                I can converse with people and disagree without getting upset because I do know whats important in life.

                (Rant rant rant, but seriously there’s nothing I can be more passionate about than love)

        • Mark Zahn says

          Actually, drinking distilled water will remove minerals from your body. Distilled water is so pure, it will pull minerals out of things it contacts – rocks, living cells, etc. Drinking it infrequently probably won’t make a difference; the minerals can be replaced from other food and drink. But, if distilled water was the only water you drank…bad idea.

          • Louisa Ballew says

            Oh! Mark, not only did this make me laugh that you would choose to make this point it truly shocks me….Now I will definitely keep paying more for the bottled drinking water from Hawaii that has minerals in it!!!!

          • Betsy says

            Ha ha! Yes I agree. Extremely bad for health to drink distiller water as the main source of drinking water on a daily basis. Maybe ok if you add minerals back but seems like a lot of hassle unless you know exactly how much minerals to put in to make the water “live” again. Distilled water has been referred to dead water because everything is “processed” out of it and it supposedly changes the structure of the water making it hard for it to actually hydrate the body when it’s consumed.

          • sue says

            I was going to make a legitimate comment about coconut milk and how I like it, and how I’m going to consider making it for myself to avoid the BPAs, but now I’m super concerned that my beta fish is upstairs getting the life sucked out of him as he floats around in distilled water!

            • Lorie Brady says

              Sue,

              You just made me laugh out loud for the first time today. No offense to the fish. I hope he is doing fine.

        • Kevin says

          Paul,

          You may want to ingest BPAs, preservatives, and guar gum along with your pink slim and genetically modified and hydrogenated food stuffs. That is fine, but for people with health and digestive issues you may not be familiar with these items are known to cause problems. The issue is why these things are not labelled so we can all make a choice on which product to purchase. Use your imagination and think of the possibility were someone with an illness might have no problem using 100% natural or homemade coconut milk but have severe allergic reactions or other acute responses to something with potassium metabisulphide, guar gum, or other unlisted ingredients.

        • Gayle says

          Actually, a lot of us buy organic coconuts and make our own milk and cream ’cause we know better than to buy anything in a can.

        • Croswind says

          Paul, look up CARAGEENAN by Ray Peat, which IS a problem to the human gut long term and produces Tumors. It’s in 99% of all dairy free milks, dairy free cheeses and even some dairy products now as a thickener.

          “In the 1940s, carrageenan, a polysaccharide made from a type of seaweed, was recognized as a dangerous allergen. Since then it has become a standard laboratory material to use to produce in-flammatory tumors (granulomas), immunodeficiency, arthritis, and other in-flammations. It has also become an increasingly common material in the food industry. Articles are often written to praise its usefulness and to claim that it doesn’t produce cancer in healthy animals. Its presence in food, like that of the polyester imitation fat, microcrystalline cellulose, and many other polymers used to stabilize emulsions or to increase smoothness, is often justified by the doctrine that these molecules are too large to be absorbed. There are two points that are deliberately ignored by the food-safety regulators, 1) these materials can interact dangerously with intestinal bacteria, and 2) they can be absorbed, in the process called “persorption.” — Ray Peat, Ph.D

        • Sam says

          Actually i heard about distilled water having a ph of 5 when left out in the open. Thats why you shouldnt drink distilled, i agree with your post tho.

        • Eleanor says

          Guar gum is not totally harmless. Many people have difficulty breaking it down. I have to avoid it along with Carageenan.

        • Martin says

          Paul, just a few questions for you, Do you have patients like the article writer? Do they come to you complaining of problems after they consume coconut milk and the three ingredients mentioned here? Do they experience problems when those items are removed from the diet? If you answer no to any of those questions, then you are not qualified to criticize the article at all. Please get a degree and start helping patients. Those of us with gut issues are very grateful for articles like this because it alerts us of things to watch out for that we might not be aware of. Medical doctors just give us two alternatives: drugs or intestine removal. I prefer the diet and lifestyle approach and I consider this article a must read for us, victimized by the pharmaceutical and food industries and the medical profession.

        • Mary says

          The argument is not about what causes the problem, just what exacerbates the symptoms. What worsens them. And you can get yeast overgrowth from eating a no sugar good diet too. Often it is the fruit sugar and milk sugar and not washing fruit before you cut into it can expose you. So if you are eating ground fruit out of your yard over and over in a moist, warm geography, you can have a problem. Antibiotics can set you up for it also. It is probably more likely if you eat crap, but it can happen if you aren’t also.
          Get your ego out of it. And…not everyone is like you. You might not know everything.

        • einstein says

          Yes,you can make all those decisions once you are informed. The article is informative. What you do with what you learned is up to you. Balking at free advice? Not nice, not nice.

        • Lindell says

          Many cartons are plastic lined these days too. I remember when milk cartons were caoted in some sort of wax. I actually remember when milk came in glass to front doorstep…..i used to go and lick the cream from the lids before anyone got to it.

          Also, have heard that distilled water isnt the best as it is no longer living and has been stripped of nutrients. Some people add these back in, but its rather hard to add life unless parts of your filtration system runs it through living things….plants planted in sandy soil and the like.

      • Kay says

        This is for those of you, like me, who may read this article 1.5 years or more after it was written.

        I ordered a case of Natural Value Natural coconut milk, from Amazon.
        Ingredients: Coconut extract, water. That’s it!
        Also BPA-Free cans!
        No preservatives. A family company.

        You can’t ask for more…well some of the people who left bizarre messages below, would… but shouldn’t. :)

        It’s awesome stuff. BTW it DOES have 7g of carbs in 4oz…so if you have a sugar issue…uh heads up.

      • says

        I love your site but I have to say you’ve got this one wrong. Yes, coconut milk used to be considered a FODMAP, but recent research by Sue Shepherd, the leading researcher in the area of fructose malabsorption, has now declared coconut milk safe for people with fructose malabsorption. They suggest that the high fat content may perhaps be the reason that some people can’t handle it.

        I was diagnosed with fructose malabsorption 2 years ago and am part of a group on Facebook where we share all our experiences and symptoms. Many people in the group have found that their absolutely fine with coconut milk since adding it back into the diet.

        I’m lucky enough to live in Melbourne, Australia where the majority of research into fructose malabsorption takes place, so I’m lucky enough to receive very up to date information regarding safe and unsafe foods. There are constant changes being made.

        • Chris Kresser says

          Research is all well and good, and of course I rely on it. But I also rely on my clinical experience, and many people with FODMAP intolerance do not do well with coconut milk, regardless of what the studies say. That is why I always suggest personal experimentation rather than relying on what studies or experts say on subjects like this. Your body is the final arbiter.

      • Guðrún BJörg Sveinsdóttir says

        For me it’s the sulfites.. coconut is naturally high in sulfites sadly.. cannot even have it straight from the fruit..

      • Stephanie B says

        Honestly, there are very few foods that are 100% healthy for us. There are health hazards everywhere people. I agree with her comment, the article was disappointing and makes coconut milk itself look bad. The first 2 facts for why its “so bad” state that you can avoid those health hazards simply by either buying one of the two brands of more organic coconut milk or by making it at home.

        The third reason may seem like a good one but there are no supporting facts in that section to prove that you will get Fructose Malabsorption from drinking coconut milk. People who already have this issue or are at risk should stay away from things with high fructose obviously. I would think that to take in too much fructose from coconut milk in order for it to irritate a normal, healthy, person, you’d have to drink quite a bit, quickly. I don’t know about you but I don’t chug a big glass of coconut milk when I treat myself to some. Large amounts of almost every food can have risk factors. Which is why you don’t have coconut milk for every meal, drink some water.

        I could write an article just like this one talking about how its not be the best idea to shop at the grocery store. I could say that its a health hazard to buy and be around manufactured, chemical packed, grocery items. I could also say that you have the chance of getting some sort of infection from the people germs or whatever that you’re being covered in when you are there.

        This article would have been more educational and useful if it had listed pro’s as well as cons. What I learned is that the 3 reasons its not good for you is because 1) Manufactured products contain dangerous chemicals that you shouldn’t consume. 2) Manufactured products contain substances that you shouldn’t consume. And 3) Consuming large amounts of fructose can cause health issues and should be avoided by people with digestive conditions like IBS.

        So, all in all I learned that manufactured/canned coconut milk is not good for my health and if I have digestive problems I shouldn’t drink coconut milk.

        Also, Chris, the last section does explain that coconut milk in general “CAN cause problems for people” doesn’t it. Just like you said. Can cause problems doesn’t mean it will. BUT, look how many times the article mentions canned milk and how bad it is. This article is mainly about health risks of canned coconut milk, not homemade. Which is why they gave a recipe for homemade coconut milk at the very end. Therefore her comment was correct in saying that it appears to make coconut milk in general look bad when really its processed/canned coconut milk that is the issue. The article says it all.

      • sefora says

        I love tour blog! Thank you só much for all information. But i have a huge doubt: i kive in brazil in a big land fulo of cocconuts trees. Everyday I pick up a cocunut for my breakfast and also when the whether is roo hot. Could it also be harmful or your mean only coconuts on cans/ packs?

      • Patricia allen says

        I love coconut milk i always make my own i buy the coconut at joes market it i great it wake the milk and drink i also make coconut oil love it .

    • candace says

      I agree with emily. i thought there wa going to be more evidence that coconut milk was worse for ppl than anything else-not the can, or based on disorders. ppl are so worried about their diets that i feel many exploit that fear for clicks on their website. you can find someone who cannot tolerate anything-but seriously most ppl get far more sugar from things other than cocnut milk!!! geez.

      • says

        Candace, for some people with digestive problems, as mentioned in the article, even the small amount of sugars in coconut milk can cause problems. This is useful knowledge as sometimes we assume things are ‘safe’ and it can make it hard to identify what is causing upsets. If you’re generally healthy you don’t need to worry about it, but as someone with a raft of food sensitivities, this is a useful insight.

        • Oh Come On says

          Is it a mystery that coconut milk has a little bit of sugars in it? Was this a hidden fact covered up by The Coconut Powers That Be?

          I agree with other commenters that this article draws you in with a seeming warning about coconut milk itself and then veers off wildly into complaining about packaging and disorders that do not affect the majority of people.

          It’s not the coconut milk that is bad, per se, but that it falls within the insanely large group of foods that has (at least) a tiny bit of sugar. Heavens, no!

          • Chris Kresser says

            Sorry, but you’re wrong. These issues I mention in the article affect the vast majority of people who consume coconut milk products. I’d say 99% of people that consume coconut milk buy it in cans that have BPA in them. You’re saying this isn’t relevant? That’s crazy. And IBS, which is strongly associated with fructose malabsorption, is extremely common – with recent estimates suggesting up to 1 in 3 people in the U.S. suffer from it. It’s the 2nd leading cause of people missing work, behind the common cold. BPA is a neurotoxin that affects anyone and everyone that is exposed to it. So, these are issues that everyone drinking coconut milk in cans should be aware of.

            I clearly state in the article that the problem isn’t with coconut milk, but in the way it’s processed and stored. I also made it clear that for people without the health issues, BPA-free canned coconut milk may not be an issue. This is all right there in the article.

            • Megan says

              Chris,
              Thanks for all you do! I can’t believe all the negativity from this post – Wow! I just have to say I love your site and all the great info you provide. I don’t know how you keep up with all of it (and then have to deal with negative comments on top of it).
              Have a great day!
              Megan

              • Katy says

                Amen! I found this article by googling fodmap + coconut, and found the information extremely helpful. The negativity here is sickening.

            • CJG says

              The lion’s share of the relevant warning in this article is about the cans coconut milk is packaged in. It would have been VERY easy, and far less misleading, for the article to have been titled “3 Reasons Why (Canned) Coconut Milk May Not be Your Friend”. Considering there is a significant proportion of the public who are suspicious or uninformed about less conventional foods (at least to the US palate) and many people who initially look into coconut milk as a good “alternative” food are put off by the high percentage of “saturated” fat it appears to have, the title of this article is unnecessarily defamatory. When people see “may” they don’t necessarily think, generally, “may” in the sense of under certain conditions (per the article); many people who only see the headline will interpret the “may” as in the inconclusive news-speak sense of “some studies claim coconut milk is harmful”. And they will be less curious, not more curious, about a potentially healthful alternative in their diet–as well as all alternative foods. Its obvious by the number of vexed comments to the title that it is potentially misleading. And when one writes, what counts is not what you intend…but what is communicated. Rather than risk turning already unnecessarily skeptical people off a product that might benefit them because -like so many of us- they never got past the headline, why not give them a fair shake :-) rather than risk defaming a healthful product. It would probably be better if more people did in fact consume coconut milk (in a carton which is easy enough to come by). But the headline of this article is much more likely to turn health novices off a potential health food, than it is to inform them…because for all the readers that clicked through to the article, there is a-whole-order-of-magnitude greater number of internet surfers who only see the headline, and whose curiosity about this health food, and health foods in general, will be dampened, not rewarded. If the author’s aim is indeed to provide a public service, its worth being sensitive to the well known, and near-universal fact of publishing that many more people see the title of your article, or the cover of your book, than get to its last three paragraphs. I suspect, though, that the author had succumb to a yet more universal fact of publishing: a startling title drives more traffic than does a literal one (even if it is at the expense of the negative impressions of all those people who never clicked through).

              Yes, thanks for the quality of the information in the article. But, (it’s) no thanks to the title.

              • Michael says

                I’m pretty sure most of the people who read this site are not going to have a knee jerk reaction to an article like this. The fact that people are reading it makes them in some way different to the majority who, if they care at all, source their nutrition advice from mainstream media.

                • Crystal says

                  Agreed! I have IBD and this article makes COMPLETE sense in that context. Of course, I’m more educated on nutrition than most because I have studied it for hours due to my condition.

                  Chris- this is an excellent article and the title is NOT misleading if you are a student of nutrition and the gut brain link.

              • Simon says

                CJG – Totally agree with your comments.
                I am also concerned that many folks don’t seem to know that the Aussie researchers at Monash Uni in Melbourne, who have done the leading research in FODMAPs, have taken coconut products OFF the FODMAPs danger list. Its a concern because I personally have found coconut oil an extremely beneficial supplement to the FODMAPs diet, in eliminating severe long term IBS.
                To my fellow IBS sufferers – do the FODMAPS diet – add in 4 tablespoons of cold-pressed coconut oil and reap the benefits !

                • trina says

                  The FODMAPs wouldn’t be in the oil to begin with – the question is whether they are in the flesh and the milk products. It’s the same situation with ghee vs milk/cream.

            • patty says

              what everyone is missing is that coconut milk is worthless since it is pasturized just like regular milk. if you drink RAW (milks) most people can tolerate them and not show sensitivities.

              • Dana says

                There’s no reason to pasteurize coconut milk since it’s canned anyway. There is probably some heating involved during that process because coconut milk is not acidic enough to kill any germs in the can. But I’m not clear on the process so I can’t say for sure. I read one account at Yahoo Answers stating that the cans themselves are steam-sterilized prior to the canning process, and another account elsewhere stating that coconut milk is sterile in the first place. I don’t know how reliable any of that is, and I bet you don’t either.

                But raw dairy milk can often kill its own germs if it’s fresh enough, and coconut milk never has that ability, since the former still contains white blood cells (as does human milk) and the latter never does. So if you want to trust an industrial coconut milk without any heat treatment at all, first off good luck finding one, and second off I wish you luck, you’re going to need it.

            • Stephanie B says

              Okay, so 1 in 3 people in the U.S. suffer from IBS/Fructose Malabsorption. Canned coconut milk should be avoided for that reason. And 99% of people that consume coconut milk buy it in cans (not sure where you got that). That’s great that you are bringing awareness to the risks of canned coconut milk.
              So when you meet people who have IBS or other digestive problems, I’m sure you list some foods they need to avoid right? So… what is the percentage of people with digestive issues who also drink coconut milk? I bet its a lot lower than 1 in 3.
              Here is why people are making a fuss over your article. The title is “3 reasons why coconut milk may not be your friend”. The title is what draws people in, they want to read why coconut milk may be bad for them. Yes you clearly stated that canned coconut milk is really what we should steer clear of but the article’s title is the summary of the subject. The title says to us, “hey, here are 3 reasons why you shouldn’t drink coconut milk.” period. It doesn’t say anything about canned anything.
              Its like going into a room full of people who love apples and telling them that apples are bad for them. When they ask why, you go on a rant about how 99% of people who eat apples, eat the ones which were chemically enhanced and sprayed with pesticide. This room full of people who love apples are going to think “oh, so its not the apples that are bad for me, its the chemicals the manufacturers cover them with”. The argument that you entered with is not supported by your facts. Its like you started a debate about how all of one category is bad, with an explanation of how it isn’t really bad.
              Another reason people got worked up is because this issue some of us have with the article is going straight over your head. You are repeating what you stated in the article. You say that its all true and that you aren’t wrong. The issue people have has nothing to do with whether your facts about canned coconut milk and digestive issues are right or wrong. The issue is the title of the article. Your article appears to be wrong to people because whats written in it does not support the title. Even if it was unintentional on your part, those 3 reasons for why coconut milk is bad, are wrong.

              The way it looks = Coconut Milk = Bad
              The way it is = Canned Coconut Milk = Bad

              example of how it looks
              Your Mother is mean vs. your mother grounded you for getting an F because you could do better than that.

              Hey sounds a lot like
              Coconut Milk is bad for you vs. canned coconut milk has unhealthy additives in it and you could choose healthier than that.

              Does it makes sense now why people are disagreeing with your article?

              Here’s a fact. 99% of people who read and comment on health related articles are not going to be complete idiots and have pretty good points when they decide to voice disagreement on these forums/articles.

              • Shawn says

                I don’t even need to go back and read the article to tell you what 3 things about Coconut Milk may make it less than friendly, and two of them have nothing to do with cans.
                1. BPA
                2. Guar Gum
                3. Fructose malabsorption
                Chris generously supplies the reader with all the material to make an informed decision on each of these possible problems. That is what brought you here, isn’t it?

            • John Do says

              Id like to point out that you are correct on the BPA aspect. I’ll be honest, everything I look like a coconut milk container in stores, the first thing I think about is the plastic and materials being used to bottle the coconut milk. However, coconut itself is extremely healthy whether eating its pulp, eating the oil or having it as milk. As for you talking about the coconut milk process, I can understand that. The process of coconut milk in general can be questioning when it is bottled in those little plastic brand containers..

        • TyAnne says

          I agree. I guess he could have put “Why coconut milk may not be good for if you have blah, blah, blah and if it is contained in blah, blah , blah, because of blah, blah” for a long title. Then ppl won’t have to read and maybe learn stuff… whatever.

    • tim says

      Thank you for the info as I just had serious gas and bowl reactions to the So Delicious Ice Cream. It was the third time, the first two I was sceptical but this time is the charm I was wondering the chicory root extract in there tto Could that be a problem as I was so bad I almost went to the ER or do you think it was the guar gum?

    • says

      Thanks for open discussion for this topic.
      I do have question: how about Natural coconut milk in tetra packaging.

      I personally use this brand and satisfied with the product so far. I saw on the nutrition fact is contains 90% of Natural coconut extract for milk and 99.92% coconut extract.

      http://www.eaglewingsfoods.com/Products.php
      http://eaglewingsfoods.blogspot.com/2012/02/uht-natural-coconut-milk.html

      I believe the real issue the CAN packaging that contain certain chemicals that can be not good for human body system.

      cheers.

    • Kathy says

      I wanted to respond to this because it gave me answers I really needed. I started drinking Silk pure coconut milk ( I love this stuff ) and about a week ago, I started also drinking the Silk pure almond ( again, I love this stuff ) HOWEVER, for about a week now I have been extremely bloated, intense pain in my upper abdomin clear through to my back. Feels like someone pushed there fist in the front and ALMOST OUT MY BACK and still trying. The pain is horrible and now I know why. I’m a vegetarian and I don’t drink milk either or eggs, so I tried Silk because it’s not milk. I also have IBS and a 50% blocked celiac artery. I thought I was having a heart attack BUT I realize that this started after I bought alot of the Silk coconut and almond and that’s basically what I’ve been drinking. It does do what this article says and the other cartons I have will be given to my friend because I guess my body just can’t handle it :( and the silk is not canned… but still had a negative effect on me. I guess now it’s back to having cereral again with kool aid or power aid ( don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.. LOL ) If your having problems maybe you should look into this further as I did and then put it into play and see for yourself. If your having problems, stop taking it and see if your problem goes away ( boy am I praying mine does ). Thank you letting me share my experience with you :)

      • Lee says

        Hi, thanks Chris for informing us about these things to consider for planning our individualised health care.
        I recently heard Sally Fallon from WAPF state that coconut also has salicylates which can negatively affect those sensitive to them. Hope that helps others too.

      • Tia Z says

        Kathy, I had a problem with the SILK brand. I believe somewhere it states it has to do with the way they process it… I don’t think it’s GLUTEN FREE. Also, have you tried to cut out SOY? I am allergic to soy & let me tell you, the symptoms you describe are what I experience if I have been ‘poisoned’ with soy. Much luck to you. It’s not fun when you have to be so careful with everything you eat & drink because of the repercussions of so many foods & drinks.

        • swissik says

          I only consume what grows in the ground, on bushes and on trees, preferably fresh picked, milled (such as oats or millet) or dehydrated. No dairy, no soy, no eggs, no sugar products except some honey. Eat nothing with a face on it. Life is much simpler that way, and it is good on the pocketbook.

    • Susan says

      yea…. I noticed the so delicious coconut milk ice cream gives me extreme amount of gas and discomfort ugh… it has agave, chicory root, carob and guar gum… you would think they would make it for people who digestive issues but I guess not :(

    • Spencer Thomas says

      I found this to be good article on coconut milk. I am very partial to it, and initially thought this article would bash it. But my cynicism towards it did not turn out to be warranted. The article was merely presenting a few potential concerns towards coconut milk, none of which I have to worry about – except perhaps the BPA concerns. I think it will be worthwhile to try to avoid BPA in the coconut milk, so I will definitely take some of the steps recommended in order to lower my exposure. Altogether I thought the article was well presented, and I appreciate its presentation.

    • craig hardie says

      you can also scrape coconut form the shell after you break it open….they sell the scrapers at asian groceries…you sit on it as you rasp the flesh of the coconut in the half shell and the residue falls in a bowl at your feet…you then squeeze it out and you have fresh coconut milk….no chemicals except whats in the coconut…

    • says

      First of all: coconut milk is coconut fat dissolved in water. Just look at anything in nature, and you will see, this will seperate in just a few hours. Therefore in ALL coconut milk in cans, tetra of bottle, emulsifiers and stabilisers are needed, declared on the label of “‘forgotten”, see http://www.tropifood.net/coconut%20milk.html
      In many canned coconut milk from Thailand BPA is already no longer used for the last decade, and in all my lab test reports NOT measured ( = under the detection limits of 1.5 microgram per ltr)

    • AZ&CAsue says

      I found some canned coconut milk at Cost Plus that lists only coconut and water as the ingredients. It is really pretty thick. That’s how I like it. We don’t use it like a milk. I would like to find some that isn’t in a can. Does anyone have suggestions as to really thick, creamy “milk” that is basically like a pudding?

      Thanks!

      Sue

      • April says

        Refrigerate it and scoop out the cream, then use the remaining liquid for a smoothie or something. The cream is definitely thick!

    • dee says

      Natural Value has no guar gum or bpa. Please check the can. Guar gum is a bean as you said but it is also a laxative. It infuriates me that the so called health food industry adds it to so many things. Is there anyone we can trust anymore? NO

    • Kaylie says

      Well, he clearly states whats bad within processed coconut milk, nothing more than how it comes to you in a can or package. And then, he goes into detail about how to make your own coconut milk.. I don’t think you read this article, if you had, you would of seen the recipe at the bottom of the page.

    • Nicole says

      I do not think the article suggests that coconut milk is all bad. In fact, he writes instructions for how to make your own coconut milk towards the end of the article. Instead, he lists reasons why coconut milk might be upsetting your digestive tract. I am thankful for the article, as I just consumed some coconut milk and my gut was immediately upset. Now, I have several things to look for when I purchase coconut milk or any other product from the grocery store. I also am now aware that black beans and apples can also irritate IBS. I am going to try using coconut milk again, as I am aware the body can react funny to a new food item, but this time, I am going to try to make it on my own. Thanks Doc!

    • dkaj says

      Emilee,
      I don’t understand why you would slam Chris on trying to educate others on this topic. He is very correct on the fact that coconut milk can cause GI distress in people with IBS, IBD, and fructose malabsorption. For all these groups, there are 2 variables to consider. One, is the fructose content of the coconut and the second is the fat content. Coconut milk is very high in fat, and even though it is the healthy fat we want, for many people with GI issues, high fat can be a trigger also. Thus, before you go slamming Chris, do some more research on the subject. Yes, coconut milk is very very healthy, just like many foods are healthy, but for people with compromised GI systems, healthy does not always mean that a person will be able to tolerate a food and digest it without causes havoc. And, if they can’t digest it properly, then it will cause other problems throughout their bodies. On another note, Thanks Chris for educating the public on this issue. My 8 y/o dd suffers from FM, and it is absolutely horrible to see her crying in pain when foods don’t agree with her. She prays to God to help her through these times when we have accidental exposures. Many times she is scared she is going to die. It’s not fun, and many doctors aren’t even aware of this condition.

    • Kate says

      I think the point here is great! The article really points out some real flaws with coconut milk, whether you like it or not. It’s not fair to criticize it just because you prefer coconut milk.
      Thanks for the information!

    • jeroen says

      I really like the fresh young coconut. But I am afraid if the palmtrees don’t grow locally as in my country. All the goodness is imported. There’s the catch: all imported tropical goods and foods are gassed (!) before entering europe. This is obliged by law to prevent the spread of tropical bugs. There are different methods: one is vacuuming and all unwanted organic bugs and eggs will explode. However bromine is also used for furniture and mattresses etc..
      Thats not funny if the coconut is bromine gassed you’ re fucked.

  1. Emilee says

    According to NutritionData.com, coconut milk has VERY LITTLE sugar of any kind – including fructose. Nevertheless, I do have patients that cannot even tolerate homemade coconut milk (which has no guar gum in it), even though they are fine with coconut oil. I ASSUME that they are reacting to the fructose in the coconut milk – but I can’t be sure.

    Sorry but I just don’t see enough data or evidence here to make that conclusion/ASsumption.

    • Dana says

      Emilee, God forbid that I should tell anyone not to be opinionated on someone else’s blog, since I am myself from time to time and I’d be a hypocrite–but you are just being rude. I see plenty of loopholes here for someone who wants to continue consuming coconut milk and it’s not like Chris has a gun to your or anyone else’s head. Go take a cold shower and soak your head a while, you’ll feel better.

        • Brad says

          There was absolutely nothing wrong with Emilee’s posts if you were rating them for high levels of snarkiness. Extra points for sneaking in sarcastic commentary through clever use of capital letters.

          I don’t see a lot of critical thinking in many of these comments, but I do see a lot of criticism.

          I gained useful perspectives from this article and found the title catchy and not misleading. And even if you’re incredibly smart and know more about something than most of the human race, sometimes you need a little reminder.

          Thanks for putting this information out there, Chris.

    • Chris Kresser says

      I don’t need any more evidence than this: certain patients feel bad after eating coconut milk (even homemade), and then feel better when they remove it. Period. That’s enough for them, and it’s enough for me. Science isn’t perfect, so sometimes we can only speculate on the mechanisms. Your reaction is strange. I can only assume you sell coconut milk or have some other ulterior motive. Otherwise, there’s absolutely no reason to respond the way you are.

      • Emilee says

        Dana, exactly it is hypocritical so take your own advice. The problem is I see so many “well meaning” natural foods/health blogs which I follow many are so quick to jump and say, this is BAD don’t eat/drink it etc…and coconut is an amazing food source. it just think the article sets a bad tone and people are quick to forward on these messages and then the message gets more exaggerated each time…all based on a small assumption. Lots of healthy foods make otherwise healthy people ill and they can’t tolerate it, or they need some gut healing to be able to tolerate it. If coconut milk makes someone feel bad they can stop drinking it, that doesn’t mean coconut milk is bad and needs to be warned against. Sorry if I was a little overzealous I had come across several articles like this on other topics and “news” type sites, it sets a bad example in the natural food/health community that as soon as we see one little iota that something could be “bothersome” to some people it’s “bad” gotta get a warning out or else.

        And nope I don’t sell a thing. just dont’ understand all the fearmongering going on within the natural community lately.

        • Emilee says

          I completely agree about CANNED coconut milk…

          For example those same people with the fructose intolerance, certainly can’t eat honey then because it’s got about 4times the amount of fructose…so is Honey a danger? Would you warn the dangers of honey? No because it most likely benefits more people than not and is an amazing healing food.

        • Chris Kresser says

          Emilee,

          The title of the article is “3 reasons why coconut milk may not be your friend”. I am a health care practitioner. My job is to help sick people get well. These articles aren’t written for the “healthy general population” – for the most part. They’re written for people that are either struggling with some health problem, or want to optimize their health to the greatest extent possible.

          Please don’t put words into my mouth. I didn’t say coconut milk is bad, nor did I say people should stop drinking it. Your job, like anyone else’s, is to THINK. I outlined the reasons why coconut milk MAY be a problem. Nowhere did I make a single absolute statement about coconut milk.

          • Todd says

            Hi Chris. In this response to Emilee you go back and forth between coconut oil and milk. I’m assuming you meant milk. Not trying to nitpick but it seems like people want to explode on this post, so I thought I’d mention it!

      • Sandra Brigham says

        Well, thanks to Dr. Kresser again for me. He first wrote about methyl B12 being more easily absorbed than cyano and after three yrs of neuropathy in my left leg, it is now gone since starting methyl 13 days ago.

        As for coconut milk, I got an upper GI bleed (with GERD symptoms) 3 or 4 mths into going Paleo and no explanation for it. Ironically, about the same time I heard Dr. Kresser say on a podcast that some people can’t tolerate guar in coconut milk. I had been drinking a lot of it. I cut out the coconut milk, increased my whipping cream, and all GERD symtoms (belching, excruciating pain in chest and left arm numbness/tingling, pain in the sternum, etc.) went away! So, if Dr. Kresser had not said so, I would have undergone an unnecessary endoscopy. Dr. ruled out a couple other things on exam and blood tests. But they also wanted to put me on PPIs which I didn’t do. Kresser’s not fear mongering. He’s enducating us for free.

        By the way, where’s your PAYPAL button Dr. Kresser? I’d like to donate some of my savings to you!

        • says

          In response to Sandra. What a brilliant comment. A true example of someone taking their health in to their own hands and not waiting for a doctor to come up with a solution, by doctor I mean your typically GP with too many patients to have the time to care. Dr. Kresser definitely deserves donations, where is that paypal button.

        • Cheryl Shaw says

          you go girl! i personally liked the article. its good to understand as much as we can about everything that we consume. this info was very useful for me, as I am currently exploring new eating habits for my family and I to PREVENT health problems (of which I fortunately don’t have), so I personally have concluded that too much of anything is not good for you…

      • Jean says

        “I don’t need any more evidence than this: certain patients feel bad after eating coconut milk (even homemade), and then feel better when they remove it. Period. That’s enough for them, and it’s enough for me.”

        This is a breath of fresh air! I had IBS for 20 years pre-paleo, and I would often tell various medical professionals that a particular food caused me a particular problem, to be told, “there’s no scientific evidence for that.” Gaah! I would then have to resist the urge to shake them and scream, “the rapid onset of explosive diarrhoea is all the evidence I need!” Your patients must love having a doctor who actually listens to them.

        I’ve just discovered your site, and I’d like to say thanks, I’m really enjoying reading it. :)

        • Louisa Ballew says

          jean…..I will have to clap clap clap! I was just wanting a safe coffee creamer and all articles led to coconut milk until this….Your delightful visual has made me drink my coffee mate sugar free hazelnut with a whole new enjoyment this Sunday Morning! I swear I laughed HARD for 5 straight minutes, No-Way will I take the chance of this comical visual becoming my reality! Lordy No!

          You have a great day, I have you to thank for a real good start to mine!
          Louisa

      • Kathy says

        Read my response above and please tell me how long does it take to stop the bloating and especially the pain in my abdomin after I stop drinking it? Is there anyting I can do to help it along? Thank you in advance :)

    • Chuck says

      Emilee I cannot tolerate coconut milk at all – and I love it – however, I do tolerate heavy cream just fine – Guar Gum and all (I do try to avoid GG as much as possible on general principles, but it’s hard when you are out and about)

    • Hank Hamm says

      I use this Turtle Mountain in a carton as well marketed as So Delicious. I get it at our local IGA here in Canada and it comes from Eugene, OR. Not sure why so many Americans would drink it from cans since the product must be widely available in the U.S.

      (Canda prohibits the use of plastics containing BPA in baby bottle liners, and all baby foods. Maybe someday we’ll get around to the adults)

    • Becka says

      I buy Aroy-D at the local Asian grocery store. There are many different kinds of Aryo-D. There is milk, cream, etc. There is the one I use (for Thai Curry) which states “for cooking,” its ingredients are “60% coconut extract, water.” I assume this differs from the one that states “for desserts.”
      Personally, I’m not giving up my curry and the Aroy-D is delicious and inexpensive.

  2. mary ann says

    I make fresh coconut milk in the vitamix. I use a wooden bench-type tool I bought at an Asian grocery store that allows you to sit on it and use a small blade to scrape out the coconut. Not sure what it is called, but they use them in the Pacific Islands.

    Also, I know boxed coconut milk has bad additives, but do the box linings have BPA?

  3. Douglas Ritz says

    Oh yes! The world is a highly contaminated environment. With arsenic in chicken, mercury in seafood, dioxin in milk and now, BPA in coconut milk. With 9 billion inhabitants what more can one say.

    My grandfather always said: Don’t shit in your own nest.

    Unfortunately, that is exactly what we have done.

    Bon Appétit!

    • zal says

      very unfortunate of course.
      and where all this shit has originated ? of course from USA.
      If not, these chemicals would have never spread around the world.
      It’s the american greedy companies like Monsanto and hundreds of others, if not thousands, who have created these chemicals in food, in crops, in plastics, in car dashboards…even in the air. Everything with one thing in mind:: to make more more more money.
      It’s a capitalistic system. The only thing these corporations care is money, nothing else.
      And mafia like Monsanto keeps acting like a Nazi Machine, using every possible tool to force farmers around the world to grow GMO crops, and this is all for money. But Monsanto is not only GMO. They started with Agent Orange stuff that was dropped on Vietnam during the vietnam war, making millions and millions of people in Vietnam sick and causing cancer. And of course thousands of americans got affected as well to suffer years after the war has ended.
      I don’t think there is other more evil company than Monsanto. Monsanto was a “pioneer” in spreading deseases around the world thru pesticides, herbicides…etc. And they keep spreading it.

      This is from: http://www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto/agentorange032102.cfm

      ” From 1962 to 1970, the US military sprayed 72 million liters of
      herbicides, mostly Agent Orange, in Vietnam. Over one million
      Vietnamese were exposed to the spraying, as well as over 100,000
      Americans and allied troops. Dr. James Clary, a scientist at the
      Chemical Weapons Branch, Eglin Air Force Base, who designed the
      herbicide spray tank and wrote a 1979 report on Operation Ranch Hand
      (the name of the spraying program), told Senator Daschle in 1988,

      “When we (military scientists) initiated the herbicide program in the
      1960s, we were aware of the potential for damage due to dioxin
      contamination in the herbicide. We were even aware that the ‘military’
      formulation had a higher dioxin concentration than the ‘civilian’
      version due to the lower cost and speed of manufacture. However,
      because the material was to be used on the ‘enemy,’ none of us were
      overly concerned. We never considered a scenario in which our own
      personnel would become contaminated with the herbicide.”

      • Joe Saponic says

        You are condemning a nation [or by implication it’s white European portion] for the actions of an untouchable elite. It’s unfortunate we cannot separate dietary Puritanism from left-wing politics, for I suspect that many here consume coconut in part – whether they care to admit it or not – because it is a tropical food and therefore ‘ethnic’ in some sense. Combine white self-loathing with the encouragement it affords the inverted snobbery and sense of entitlement of minorities and, in addition to the stern pieties of lectures like this one, we find that what permits identification of an obscure Asian food technology [thanks for the pronunciation guide Jose] but probably couldn’t tell us the 32nd President of the USA becomes a guiding principle of culture. I am not American. I am an Englishman. Leave America alone. Hasn’t corporate food has been poisoning the U.S.A. no less enthusiastically than other regions of the earth for many decades? It is no fault of the American people if under-development and political corruption abroad allows commerce to go about its business less furtively, with fewer restrictions. Conspiracy theorists claim the elite wants a significantly reduced population across the globe. Adulterating our food and, when we get sick, handing us over to the Big Pharma to pick over our bones in the sure and certain hope that what they prescribe will never make us better might be one way of going about it, in which case your focus, however emotionally satisfying, is altogether too narrow.

        • Elenor says

          +11111 Joe Saponic!

          And please remember that the main driver (originally; maybe not so much now) of the experimentation and work to grow more food (that led, alas, to Monsanto) was the desire on the part of those (mainly) white-European-Americans to feed a starving majority non-white-European-American world population! Ever heard of the “Green Revolution”? That was when mainly American ingenuity led to massive increases in (granted, unhealthy — but they didn’t know that then) food, mainly grain, production. While I’m all for leashing Monsanto with extreme prejudice, will you also count those (countless) millions who would have *starved* if not for the food bounty provided by America and Americans?!

          NO ONE is wholly evil, Zal. Not even the America you apparently hate so much!

  4. says

    The problem with BPA is not so much that it is estrogenic (it has a rather low estrogenic effect), but that it interferes with the thyroid hormones (just compare the chemical/structural formula of BPA to T3/T4).
    See here: http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/reprint/87/11/5185.pdf

    And by far the biggest troublemaker with regards to BPA are really the receipts. I think you would need to *eat* dozens of plastic bottles, to get the same exposure to BPA as with a single touch of a BPA covered receipt.
    http://coolinginflammation.blogspot.com/2008/10/toxins-bpa-estrogens.html
    http://coolinginflammation.blogspot.com/2009/12/bpa-in-thermal-printer-ink.html

    And I think the biggest problem with coconut milk are the other ingredients (all kinds of things to thicken or emulsify the product), whether declared or undeclared…

    • Chris Kresser says

      I completely agree that the BPA in receipts is a far greater problem. But this article was about coconut milk.

      Re: estrogenic activity, the papers I’ve seen is that BPA binds more strongly to alternative estrogen receptors, and its physiological effects are thought to be mediated by these alternative pathways. This in turn triggers changes in hormone concentration, enzyme function, protein synthesis, and more.

      • Cameron says

        Hey Chris,

        Question, if I am only giving my daughter Coconut milk because she doesn’t like regular milk, should I be giving her a certain brand and unsweetened? I do use So Delicious Coconut milk out of the cartoon and it looks like it is fortifided with some stuff but overall seems like a healthy alternative to cows milk. Are there any side effects from her drinking this instead of cows milk? Also doesn’t look like there is added sugar but is that something they typically do, cause I wouldn’t want her having a ton of sugar.

        Thanks!
        Cameron

        • says

          The So Delicious brand of coconut milk has ingredients that I wouldn’t want to drink myself, especially carrageenan which has been implicated to be a carcinogen and cause digestive upset in several studies. It also has guar gum which Dr. Kresser explains above, and folic acid as opposed to folate, which has also been implicated with some problems.

          If your daughter doesn’t seem to be having any negative reaction to the coconut milk itself, I would switch to one of the brands or methods of obtaining coconut milk Dr. Kresser lists above, but I would not keep drinking the So Delicious brand.

          The other thing I would ask is WHY are you giving your daughter coconut milk? If she isn’t interested in milk, she can have her nutritional needs met elsewhere. Many of us use it as a replacement for cows milk because we miss the texture in things like smoothies, but if she isn’t interested in that then there might not be a reason to give it to her.

      • Martha Ray says

        I asked my local Whole Foods if BPA was in the receipts and they said No – just confirm that with your store. I think they must just be saving paper when they ask if you want your receipt- but not sure. I have a hard time not taking receipts just because of habit and needing to check pricing over. I am trying to ask all the vendors I use from banks to gas, so far most do not know what I am talking about- not a good sign.

        • says

          Would you really trust the companies to tell you the truth? I am refusing receipts now but another alternative might be to hold out a ziplock bag and let them drop them in there.

          Thank you for this article Chris. I had forgotten about BPA in cans. Yuck. I eat tuna and sardines and wonder in BPA is in these cans too, is it in all cans?

      • says

        Hello Chris,

        I find this somewhat interesting however, I always consumed coconut milk maybe since I was 7yrs old and now I am 28. I come from a puerto rican family and so we usually make and consume a lot of “limbers de coco” which is a frozen coconut beverage, similar to a pop sickle, but instead we call them limbers.Of course everyone prepares there own version of coconut limbers. Most of these limbers are prepared with loads of sugar which obviously kills the benefit. I still make them at home and I do buy a couple of cans at a Bravo (Hispanic market) because I just love them specially for the summer and because it is part of my culture. I am also a health cautious but I never experienced anything of a sort till date other than yes I believe I might be lactose tolerant, but the fact that I get some bloating after any type of milk, and not just the whole coconut milk itself. I also know a lot of people that try to avoid it because of the fat content and the cholesterol levels but I am very slender and including my other cousins that also is a coconut nut worshiper. lol. I also for some reason never trusted on any type of can foods, but to really try to find a good coconut milk can be a headache. I also have the habit of drinking it with Bacardi rum which is similar to white Russian, it is very delicious my god, but of course not healthy maybe because of the alcohol. I only have it like once in a while and I look younger normally like 12yrs of age. That should mean that there is something good going on, I mean if I am in great shape right? I also believe that it is the way you train your body & soul into exposing everyday things in life and understanding it.

        • says

          I also would like to know some of your opinion about what I just mentioned “the limbers’ frozen coconut milk and I forgot to mention that it is inside a plastic cup which probably would lead to some leads. I just would love to learn some more and since I eat this like everyday. I prepare the milk with brown splenda sugar, cinnamon, vanilla abstract and real chunks of coconut which a break on the floor. I mix all the ingredients together and pure them into the small plastic cups and up on the freezer. I take like two or three everyday. Thanks for the article! ;)

  5. says

    I thought it was a good article Chris. The BPA is the most concerning issue to me as I am otherwise healthy and have put down cans of coconut milk at a sitting with seemingly no issues. However, my main sources of coconut oil WERE chefs choice, Thai Kitchen Organic, and whole foods’ 365 organic coconut milk. How are you sure about the BPA content of coconut milks. No companies list it on their labels. I ordered the BPA free kind but it is more expensive of course.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Canned coconut milk is one of the highest sources of BPA in canned food (along with canned tomatoes). However, as Tony pointed out, that pales in comparison to BPA exposure from cash register receipts. It’s hard to know whether the BPA you get from canned coconut milk has a significant health impact, but the study I linked to in the article does suggest that eliminating canned foods and using only glass for food storage decreased BPA levels by 60-75% in the study cohort. That clearly indicates that canned food is capable of raising BPA levels.

        • Michael Koren says

          Aroy-D All Natural Coconut Milk is now in a box – this may have been mentioned elsewhere – and they are publicizing the problem with BPA in cans and their paper boxes are free of it. They also removed the Guar Gum that is in their cans from it – the ingrediants are : Ingredients: coconut milk 55%, water, potassium metabisulfite (as perservative). Unsweetened.

    • Lee says

      As far as i know the BPA is VISIBLE in the can, it is a white plastic looking coating inside the can. If your can insides just looks metallic it shoud be fine. BTW, never scrape out the contents of a BPA lined can!

      • Croswind says

        our pet food cans ARE lined with BPA, admitted from our pet food company (Wellness) but they are not white. They are metallic. So, being white is not always true.

      • michelle noe says

        I think any plastic looking lining has BPA. The purpose of the lining is to protect the consumer from exposure to lead in the solder of the seam of the can. Plastic: bad, Lead: bad. Real food, for most people, good.

  6. ReneeAnn says

    A bit of an aside, but you did bring up “BPA especially leaches into canned foods that are acidic, salty or fatty,…” Is this a problem with tuna? If so, would you point me to a post on that? Great post!

  7. says

    I used to have some major issues with coconut milk. When I would eat it, it would be like the food in my stomach was unable to digest properly and would just sit there. I had bad burping and bloating. I suspect I had gastroparesis. Either way, I am healthier now and digest it fine. I’m glad to hear that the brand at my grocery store, Native Forest, is BPA-free, but I usually buy creamed coconut and dilute it to make milk since it’s the same price for a can of creamed coconut. I’d suggest people who have trouble with it might want to mix it with broth.

    • Sandra Brigham says

      “I used to have some major issues with coconut milk. When I would eat it, it would be like the food in my stomach was unable to digest properly and would just sit there. I had bad burping and bloating.”

      Melissa, exactly how I felt, physically and rationally! More than half the time you can’t even burp and the pain is incredible. I’d have the first bite of a meal and the indigestion and lack of burping would start, even some immediate regurgitation. Abandoned the coconut milk, and all this stopped.

  8. says

    I just purchased some coconut cream from tropicaltraditions.com. It hasn’t arrived yet, but it comes in a glass jar and I read that you can take a few tablespoons and mix it with water and viola. Coconut milk.

  9. says

    Thank you Chris
    This explains some things I’ve dealt with relative to a particular client of mine consuming grass fed animal proteins, wild salmon, some leafy greens AND coconut milk.

    She actually began to feel better once eliminating fruit so I’m going to share this with her.

    I believe Whole Foods is working to use a no BPA can in their 365 brand.

    • Sandra Brigham says

      Then I’d have to do a challenge, as I love WF organic coconut milk. Maybe like Melissa, I need to let my gut heal first. I was so no-fat, low-fat for so long that I wouldn’t doubt my gall bladder wasn’t secreting much. They should take out the guar while they’re at it.

  10. Rodney says

    I have a few more somewhat random BPA related questions.

    1. I use 1-2 cans of tomatoes a week. Are there BPA-free brands, or bottled tomatoes available, or do I need to learn to can my own each fall? Hmm…not a bad idea, actually!

    2. Does BPA on receipts get absorbed through skin, or does it need to be ingested?

    3. Would hand washing upon returning from shopping do enough and occur soon enough to minimize BPA exposure?

    4. Does anyone have a link that lists BPA content of a wide variety of foods and other sources?

    I have mild hypothyroid symptoms and am always looking for ways to reduce exposure to environmental things that might be contributing to this. Thanks again for a thought provoking post!

    • Chris Kresser says

      1. The only one I know of is Eden Foods, which makes a glass jar tomato product. But I haven’t been able to find it locally.
      2. It gets on the hands, then the hands touch the eyes, mouth, nose etc. and it gets absorbed that way.
      3. Better not to touch the receipt at all. You are likely to touch some part of your face between the store and when you get home. But if not, probably.
      4. Here’s an article with some good links: https://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/waiter-theres-bpa-in-my-soup/#more-4108

      One of the main things BPA does is suppress thyroid function, so yes, it’s a good idea for you to reduce it as much as possible.

      • Rodney says

        Thanks for the speedy reply. I researched a bit too and here’s what I found.

        Bionaturae has tomatoes and tomato paste in glass jars. It does travel from Italy, and shipping to your house isn’t the most eco friendly, but it is an option. I found a seller that has free shipping to make the cost manageable, but I am hesitant to post links on your blog. Canning lids have BPA since they are metal. Workarounds exist, but I haven’t looked into that yet.

        Receipts printed on thermal paper will leave a slightly darker scratch mark if you scratch it with a coin. This is one lottery ticket you DON’T want to be a “winner.”

        Using alcohol based hand gels to wash your hands actually increases BPA absorption, so use soap and water.

        Thanks again for the tips!

        • ReneeAnn says

          I keep a stainless steel bottle of water to drink in a cooler in my car and a hand towel nearby. When I come out of the store, I wash my hands with the water and dry briskly with the towel. Then I use soap and water when I get home and put that bottle in the dirty dish pile. I started this routine with the swine flu scare, but I like feeling clean and it’s easy so I still do it. Maybe that helps a bit with the receipts. I never use the hand gels because of the obnoxious fragrance.

      • says

        http://www.greenpolkadotbox.com/invite/11774/
        This site, the Green PolkaDot Box will opening next Wed. offering both Eden brand And Native Forest brand canned goods as well as lots of other high quality natural food for home delivery anywhere in the US. Their prices are way cheaper than they are at my local grocer, or even than in a buying club I already belong to. I can’t wait! Members can also earn discounts for spreading the word. check it out.

    • Sandra Brigham says

      Freeze your tomatoes vs. canning. Much easier! We harvest, cook our sauces and freeze for the winter. We gave up canning many, many years ago. Sterilizing jars was such a drag.

    • Angela P says

      I use Pomi tomatoes, which come in a carton. They are tasty, and best of all the diced tomatoes are literally just diced tomatoes. The carton is 28 oz, which makes it an almost perfect substitute for the large cans of tomatoes. My Whole Foods carries them on the very bottom shelf of the canned tomatoes. I think you can also order them online.

    • Danielle Mörlund says

      Muir Glen Organics is transitioning to a new BPA free liner for their canned tomato products, if they haven’t already done so.

      Quote from Website:

      “Muir Glen has been working diligently with our can suppliers to develop and test alternative linings that do not use BPA, and we have successfully identified and tested an alternative that has proven safe and viable in our processing of tomatoes. We are transitioning to cans with liners that do not use BPA as we are canning this year’s tomato harvest.”

  11. Sarah says

    Awesome post as always. Thanks Chris. To those people who feel the need to complain – these articles are available to everyone for FREE. You have your own brain to decide for yourself if you agree with it or not. I think it’s terrible when people who spend time and effort writing articles or posting things on youtube, get people being rude. Please think about a more constructive use of your time!

    • TyAnne says

      I think it’s ok if one doesn’t agree or is skeptical, but, maybe asking an intelligent question or stating one’s position is ok, but to critique or belittle the blogger’s position is arrogant and rude in my opinion. I disagree with many doctors and bloggers but I just do not go to their blog, especially if I strongly oppose their position or their style. Why spoil for others who enjoy that particular blog? idk…jmo

  12. Tracy E says

    Thanks as always for the informative article. I’m new to eating a much more pure and healthy diet. Unlike one of the posters here, I don’t see this as an article against coconut milk. I see it as information on why (as I’ve always believed) everything that’s supposed to be good for you isn’t always – especially when the corporate food conglomerates get through with it. In this case, canned coconut milk is especially bad because of the BPA from the can, but there are things you should also consider if you have other health concerns. You continue to inform and provide options and I thank you for that.

  13. Emz says

    People with digestive problems (IBS, IBD, GERD, etc.): may want to avoid coconut products entirely, except for coconut oil

    Would coconut butter pose a problem for a Crohn’s sufferer?

    Thanks/Regards,

      • Emz says

        I’m very grateful for your thoughts Chris. I’m very hesitant/cautious to try new things just in case it brings about a flair up, which leaves my diet pretty spartan but such caution has kept me healthy and flair up free for over 2 years and avoided the surgeon’s knife in the process! Once again, thank you for your time.
        Emz

    • Sandra Brigham says

      Well, that’s the weird part – I never had reflux or GERD symptoms before Paleo, only while having coconut milk.

  14. says

    I bought the Aroy-D in cartons, and it’s wonderful. Truly the yummiest coconut milk I ever had. I don’t have it every day, but since I ditched milk, this makes great hot cocoa and cold beverages with that milky vibe.

    I used to be a canned foods junkie. No more. I’m ready to pass on most of my stuff to the food bank, cause we’re used to eating fresh now. Pretty much try to buy my oils and sauces in glass jars now, though I still have some “for emergency” canned stuff as I live in a hurricane zone.

    But definitely folks need to try the Aroy-D in the carton. No tinny taste, lovely coconut flavor….it’s all good.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Wings: you’re exactly right. I was going to include that, but the article was getting long as it is. Others may want to note that carageenan is also in all of the fake milks like almond, rice & soy.

      • gregory barton says

        Are we to assume that Arroy-D 100% coconut milk also contains carageenan although there is nothing on the label?

        • gregory barton says

          I think I can answer my own question:

          I just spoke to a person at Thai Agri Foods who assured me that Arroy-D 100% coconut milk is, in fact, 100% coconut milk. She denied that the product contains carageenan or any other additive.

  15. Richard B says

    Going paleo almost 2 years ago fixed 90% of the relatively mild but unpleasant chronic GI issues I’ve had my entire life, especially when I was vegetarian. However, I was still baffled by occasional flareups. My recent discovery of the FODMAP concept has been helping me nail down the remaining 10%. I had already figured out I had issues with soy, legumes, wheat, xylitol, and inulin, but FODMAP helped tie everything together. Sure enough, coconut milk and especially coconut water are problematic for me. Coconut ice cream (sweetened with high-fructose agave, no less) is one of the worst things I have ever found for my digestion, with the exception of textured soy protein. I’ll never make that mistake again! Sadly, I love all things coconut. :(

  16. Joe Guth says

    In response to Emilee’s comment above. That is exactly why Chris removed reader comments……
    Thanks again for the great article!

  17. Carroll says

    Hi Chris

    Re guar gum, does this mean that gluten free products could be a problem? How about Xanthum gum?

    • Chris Kresser says

      Sure does. A lot of gluten-free packaged products are full of junk. That’s why I’m always telling people to “eat real food”.

  18. Sarah Nickolet says

    Emilee….your comments are coming across as arrogant. There was no wrong information presented here.

    My daughter has Fructose Malabsorption. She cannot tolerate coconut milk at all. She cannot tolerate strawberries either. Some things cause instant symptoms with her and sometimes it takes a couple hours. The limit of fructose for most people is 25g-50g per sitting. My daughter reacts to one strawberry which contains about 239 mg of fructose. Coconut milk contains approximately 6 grams of carbohydrate per cup. There is more fructose than glucose for carbohydrate in these 6 grams of carbs. Therefore in the fructose sensitive individual…this equates to gas, bloating, diarrhea and Steatorrhea.

  19. Kirill says

    Chris, always wanted to ask this. Can guar gum(or the fructans, or BPA) be altered/reduced/destroyed by fermentation? I always ferment my coconut milk(some along with chocolate too, it’s divine!) to get rid of the phytates. Thanks for all the great info.

    • Chris Kresser says

      I would assume that fermentation may affect the fructans and guar gum (perhaps they are metabolized at least in part by the bacteria, since that is what happens in the gut), but I don’t think fermentation would affect the BPA. But I don’t have any data on this.

    • ReneeAnn says

      How do you ferment coconut milk? I suppose I could make coconut milk kefir out of it, is that what you do?

      • Kirill says

        Thanks for the reply, Chris.

        Yes, you either ferment by leaving it covered with a cloth for about 5 days(adding sugar/dextrose or honey for the bacteria to thrive on) or use a culture starter, like Body Ecology. I prefer their regular starter over the Kefir one because it has the L. Plantarum, which eats up the phytate and is dairy free: “may contain trace amounts”. But once you have made it once it’s easy to save a small part to add to the next batch and so on.

        • ReneeAnn says

          I use live kefir grains which you have to get from someone who has live grains, and I keep a small batch of milk kefer going for hubby who does well on it. That also keeps me in multiplying kefir grains. Then, for the the last two years I’ve used his leftover grains, rinsed well, to make non-diary kefir for me. I’ve tried several recipes, but my fall back is to dissolve refined sugar in water and then keep in it a jar in the frig to use as my kefir sugar liquid. I do set in on the shelf when I pour some over the kefir grains to ferment. I use sugar water because it’s lower in fructose than some other methods that I’ve tried and it is inexpensive. The bacteria eat up all the sugar, so I don’t think it matters that it’s refined. I spend my dollars on high quality meat, fermented cod liver oil and chlorella, so this is one area I try to save money. :)

          I rarely use coconut milk and have not noticed it bothering me as long as I make it fresh (from frozen coconut). If that ever bothers me, I’ll try the ferment if I need it for a recipe. Thanks! :)

          • ReneeAnn says

            By the way, if anyone tries the sugar water kefir, it doesn’t ferment well even if you make it very sugary unless you throw in a few raisins. I’m not sure why, but that does the trick. I guess that adds more fructose, but I think theoretically, if you ferment it long enough the sugars are eaten up by the bacteria anyway. I dissolve 2/3 cup sugar in 7 cups of water. I only make a small amount of kefir everyday, so I probably use 2/3 cup of sugar water and five raisins.

  20. gregory barton says

    Arroy-D coconut milk claims to be 100% coconut milk. On the box is written in large yellow script “กะทิ 100%”. กะทิ is the Thai word for coconut milk.

  21. Marina says

    Two things stand out- One, I really believe the article title should have had the word “Canned”, since
    much of the focus is on damage from can linings. Of course in general for all canned foods it is important to remind consumers there are dangers- given the make-up of the can.

    Second- we would be better off thinking about gut health in terms of balancing for healthy friendly bacteria in general. Of course I am aware that too much sugar/fructose could throw this balance off, but as a long term practitioner and teacher, I believe the focus should be on what “to do”, not solely on what “not to do”- in short, I do not think avoiding healthy brands of coconut milk, in judicious amounts within the diet, per-se is the solution, but rather rejuvenating the digestive system. And surely there will always be people who feel better avoiding one or another food- those who are paying attention, that is.

  22. John says

    I dig the info, but a lot of it feels recycled from Wikipedia. Not to mention it’s more qualitative than quantitative (i.e. ‘BPA is bad, avoid it’ – well, how much are we exposed to, how much of that is absorbed and at what levels is it harmful?).

    I hope this doesn’t scare people into avoiding canned coconut milk, when in reality they more significant issue is previously mentioned and well known food toxins. However, thanks for the help and I do feel this may help a small few who may be having trouble with coconut products.

      • Michael Koren says

        Look at the labels – I think you’ll see Carageenon and Guar Gum amongst other things. Yes Turtle Creek So Delicious.

  23. David says

    The FODMAP diet is really very interesting. Chris, does this modify anything about your enthusiasm for the GAPS/SCD diets? These diets are all about reducing the amount of di- and polysaccharides, and thus they allow fruit, honey, etc. But according to the FODMAP diet, wouldn’t these things be off limits due to their fructose and honey content? Would the GAPS diet be more effective if it removed fruit and honey altogether and even limited certain vegetables like brussel sprouts and onions? I know some people on the GAPS diet who eat a lot of apples. This seems like it might not be such a good idea after all.

    • Chris Kresser says

      No. They’re different approaches. They could be combined, of course, and some find it necessary to do that. What I’ve found with FODMAP is that usually people are sensitive to some but not all of them. For example, some might be sensitive to onions (fructans) but not dairy (lactose), or vice versa.

  24. Henry D says

    For someone dealing with a serious case of diverticulitis (where they soon might have to undergo surgery to remove part of their colon), would a FODMAP or GAPS protocol help? I’m sure Paleo would help on itself, but it seems like the person I’m referring will most likely need to consider other things. What about an autoimmune protocol? I’ve been following your blog and podcast for some time, but have yet to hear you touch on diverticulitis (I apologize if I missed it).

    Thanks

    Henry D

    • Kristen says

      I realize this response may be late for you, Henry, but hopefully it will be helpful for you or other readers.

      I also experienced severe diverticulitis (as result of a parasite infestation). I was able to re-balance my intestinal ecology and heal my intestinal lining by following the Guts and Glory program by Jordan Rubin and Joseph Brasco, MD (Restoring your Digestive Health). The first phase calms the overgrowth of pathogens while also allowing your gut to rest and heal. Then, healing continues as you rebuild the tissues and introduce healthy bacteria. Onions are the only FODMAP restriction included in Phase 1, and Phase 2 does include 30-hour home-cultured goat milk (OR probiotics, for those sensitive to all dairy).

      My understanding is that the fructose issue is separate from the diverticulitis but, as Chris mentions, the weakness of your intestines may exacerbate the fructose problem, if present. Here’s where you’ll have to know yourself and adjust the diet (or GAPS) to your own needs until healing has taken place.

      The combination of the Guts and Glory or GAPS plus the FODMAP diet would be considered a customized autoimmune protocol, as it would address your own particular causes for inflammation – poor gut integrity and gut ecology. Both the Guts and Glory and GAPS also emphasize low-carb (verses the SCD, which only emphasizes the type of carbs), to further reduce inflammation. Adding a high-quality Omega 3 supplement (and reducing Omega 6s), getting good sleep, and lowering stress also will help.

      The diets discussed already restrict most common allergens, but if you have any known personal allergens (food-related or otherwise), it would be wise to avoid these, too. Once healing has taken place (several months later), you could re-introduce certain items, one at a time, to discover whether an allergic response was related to your previous condition or whether it is something more permanent.

      IBD (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis), of course, is an inflammatory/autoimmune disorder of the gut. Surprisingly, the Guts and Glory protocol still recommends certain probiotics as part of the recovery phase for IBD. Diverticulitis and fructose malabsorbtion in themselves are not auto-immune, so either way, probiotics should be beneficial, at least during gut restoration, in helping to heal the underlying problems contributing to systemic inflammation.

  25. Pakkie says

    Thanks for the insight, I’ve always love coconut milk. Am Asian and coconut is a must in our cooking but all canned ones including Arroy-D does not test like coconut, fortunately, I live in a town with lots of Asian grocery stores. I now buy shredded frozen coconut ( I used to buy the whole coconut, break it, and used a hand held grater but my hands get too tired) put in the blender with hot water then use cheese cloth to squeeze out the milk part.

  26. WRS says

    Thanks for the article. Do you have an opinion on “powdered” coconut milk / cream. I buy the “Chao Thai” brand and use it in my coffee and shakes. It come in a foil “wrapper”. I like using the powder much more than canned milk since the canned only lasts a couple days. Plus, the box of powder I buy runs around $3 and makes like 40 servings.

  27. Brad says

    For those following a GAPS diet to treat gut dysbiosis, do you recommend avoiding shreded coconut? Coconut manna/cream?

  28. Lynn says

    For those wanting to purchase Native Forest coconut milk at a better price than amazon, Azure Standard (a distribution company out of Oregon) sells it. You’ll need to get an account, find an open drop site, etc. but might be worth your while for this and other items as well. The case price (12 – 13.5 oz cans) from Azure is $24.10.

    • GreenEyedGirly says

      Actually, as of 7/12 the price is $24.84 for 12 of the 13.5 oz cans…and that drops to $21.11 if you choose “Subscribe & Save”.

  29. Michael Puravida says

    I have a history of IBS and GERD, both currently non-symptomatic, and I can’t tolerate any of the brands of commercial canned coconut milk I have tried. They trigger reflux symptoms for me.

    I have never made my own coconut milk (i.e., from dried coconut) but I am lucky to live in Hawaii where fresh coconuts are available year-round. I often make my own coconut cream, which is a thick puree of soft, fresh coconut meat, coconut water (the clear liquid inside the cavity of the coconut), and nothing else. This takes the place of canned coconut milk in most recipes, and has many unique uses of its own. Its texture and fat content depends on the maturity of the coconuts used, since younger coconuts yield a soft, fruity meat with little fat, and more mature coconuts yield a nutty meat with fat aplenty. There there are an infinitude of stages twixt fruit and nut. It’s wonderful to be able to enjoy all those different stages of the coco in different ways.

    Anyway, I have never had any problem with any preparation of fresh coconut. Canned coconut milk is made from dried, mature coconut. To me, it a processed, dead food, not a fresh, live one–but that is merely my own subjective appraisal, not a scientific analysis. Thanks, Chris, for this article–it adds to my understanding of the issue.

  30. Paige says

    I live in Thailand and use the aroy-D brand when I can’t get the fresh stuff. I trust the labeling to be correct that there are no preservatives but what you can’t see in the picture is that the box says that the coconut milk undergoes a UHT to increase the shelf life. What effect do you think UHT has on the coconut milk?

    • valerie says

      I rather late to this party, but I found this about uht: “Kevin – I researched the UHT process and found it involves heating the milk to 284 degrees for 10 seconds.” http://www.robbwolf.com/2011/08/24/coco-what/

      Perhaps Chris can give us his opionion of what the impact that would have on the sat fat in the coconut milk?

      I have been consuming canned coconut milk this past week in a big pot of soup I made. Perhaps this is what is causing me some bowel issues this week??

      I pretty convinced to start making it myself.

  31. Zsofia says

    I believe that Trader Joe’s canned goods are BPA free with the exception of their tomato products. They sell canned coconut milk but only the light one. However, the ingredients read only coconut milk.

  32. Stefanie says

    This article caught my eye, because after changing to a paleo/primal/perfect health diet about 2 months ago, I have noticed improvements in ALL aspects of my health (including cutting thyroid hormones for my Hashimoto’s in half). However, the one negative experience I’ve had is with acne, cystic painful lesions below the corners of my mouth. In the last couple of months I removed more items from my diet than I added, but I pinpointed 2 items that I have been consuming in moderate to significant amounts: coconut milk and sweet potatoes. I know that the right way to test sensitivity to these would have been to eliminate one at a time, but I was anxious to rid myself of the acne, so eliminated both coconut and sweet potatoes, with great improvement so far.

    Has anyone else had skin reactions to coconut? Or sweet potatoes?

    • Sandra Brigham says

      @Stefanie – Ha! Yes, I too broke out on my chin and to both sides of my mouth with the coconut milk! It’s unbelievable that it affected us the same way. I couldn’t figure out why everyone kept saying their complexion improved on Paleo and mine had gone from glorious to pebbly! Once I stopped the coconut milk, at Dr. Kresser’s podcast mention of guar gum and bloating, the eruptions went away. Sweet potatoes have not affected me this way. I wonder if it’s the guar gum? I’ve eaten “real” coconut all my life with no problems. Went raw foodie a few years ago and ate lots of it with never a problem. Hmmm. Very interesting.

      • Stefanie says

        Sandra, that is so interesting! Gives me hope that I can have my sweet potatoes back! : ) I’m going to give it a few weeks before trying. I’ve never noticed trouble with coconut before either, but then I’ve never consumed it on a daily basis before. I’ll have to try coconut without the guar gum and see what happens there.

        • marla says

          i’ve had that reaction with the painful acne/lesions on the corners of my mouth and both sides of my nose. i narrowed it down to starbucks. cannot drink it or even let my husband grind beans in our coffeemaker. i called them to ask if they put roasted chicory on their beans and they said no. i was suspecting roasted chicory as it is in many celestial seasonings teas and i’ve read that it can cause an allergic skin reaction: http://www.livestrong.com/article/457640-chicory-root-side-effects/ however, very interesting about the guar gum. i will have to do a trial and see if i react to that.

    • jen says

      I had this same reaction to a pretty severe degree! The skin on my lips was crocodile-like and the corners of my mouth were cracked and bleeding for months. It was miserable! Im not sure it was thr guar gum, though – I wondered about other preservative/stabilizer-type elements that might have caused it.

    • Monroe says

      Did you find it was canned coconut milk? I’ve been trying to figure out what has been going on with my skin for the past month and one thing I’ve been doing is drinking tea with canned coconut milk because I was told I’m allergic to dairy. My skin has never been this bad. I was just having a cup of tea now and thinking about the coconut milk and guar gum and started googling and it sounds like it might be the culprit.

  33. Rob says

    I use the unsweetened So Delicious coconut milk in a carton
    ingredients: organic coconut milk (water, organic coconut cream(, carrageenan, guar gum
    all ingredients non gmo and no sulfites

  34. Christy says

    I love the website and am very grateful for all the information you provide, but I, too, was surprised by the misleading tone of the article. While the title does not explicitly say that coconut milk is bad, it is a sensationalized alert that calls into question the safety of consuming coconut milk. While the last two points in the article are valid, the first actually has nothing to do with coconut milk not being your friend and everything to do with cans and BPA not being your friends. It is a logical fallacy I was surprised to find on a site that I usually feel is cogent and balanced.

    I purchase coconut milk in a carton and was dismayed when I began the article, only to find out it was about CANS and NOT about milk. As for the latter points, I understand that there are individuals who are negatively effected by coconut milk, and this might have been a very helpful article for them, but perhaps it would have been more straightforward to gear the article toward said people (e.g. Does Coconut Milk Disagree with You? Here’s Why. or something like that), and then title the sections clearly: one for those who don’t do well with guar gum (again, simply listing guar gum is a misappropriation of blame, since you cited that there shouldn’t be a problem with guar gum if one can tolerate it), and the other for those who have problems with fructose absorption.

    I can drink coconut milk without any negative effects, so the misleading tone of the article and the lack of appropriate organization made me feel like I had been tricked into spending time reading an article that was not relevant or particularly helpful for me. It also made me question how balanced information on the site actually is. I only write this because I genuinely do appreciate the information you provide and respect the way you handle issues, and because of that, I hold the site to high standards. Thank you for your hard work!

    • Croswind says

      ADDITIVES in the coconut milk CANS and CARTONS also cause problems. GUAR GUM and CARAGEENAN….. LOOK THEM UP BY Ray Peat, Ph.D or better yet, read this:

      “In the 1940s, carrageenan, a polysaccharide made from a type of seaweed, was recognized as a dangerous allergen. Since then it has become a standard laboratory material to use to produce in-flammatory tumors (granulomas), immunodeficiency, arthritis, and other in-flammations. It has also become an increasingly common material in the food industry. Articles are often written to praise its usefulness and to claim that it doesn’t produce cancer in healthy animals. Its presence in food, like that of the polyester imitation fat, microcrystalline cellulose, and many other polymers used to stabilize emulsions or to increase smoothness, is often justified by the doctrine that these molecules are too large to be absorbed. There are two points that are deliberately ignored by the food-safety regulators, 1) these materials can interact dangerously with intestinal bacteria, and 2) they can be absorbed, in the process called “persorption.” — Ray Peat, Ph.D

  35. Sue says

    How do you not touch the receipt – How about wearing gloves?? Imagine the looks I would get wearing gloves! I always touch and look at receipt as the supermarket usually makes some error with price.

    Is Xanthan gum okay – any issues with it?

  36. Sandra Brigham says

    @Sue – Too funny. My thoughts exactly! I had the exact same line of thought. So when I shopped at WF Monday and she handed me the receipt, I managed to hold the blank side against my fingers and folded it in half and stuffed it in my purse! Of course, come bill time the next day, I forgot and handled it and all the others due for entry!

  37. Isabelle says

    Thanks Chris for this article. I’ve noticed that each time I eat something with coconut milk (at least canned),I don’t feel good and have digestive issues. It’s helpful to read I’m not the only one and to understand a bit more about potential causes. It’s too bad as I love adding coconut milk in recipes, but I think it doesn’t do well with me (at least the canned one).

  38. says

    I have had stomach problems with coconut milk in the past. I believe it was when I combined whey protein powder with coconut milk. I now don’t consume much coconut milk or whey protein powder. I think it might be the guar gum for me.

    I LOVE shredded coconut, coconut flakes, coconut butter and of course coconut oil. I still do coconut milk on occasion.

  39. Mike says

    Chris, In the Recommendations section you say “avoid canned coconut milk products except for those that are BPA-free, like Native Forest and Arroy-D”

    Is Native Forest BPA-free? I can’t find anything on their website that says so … I emailed them (no response) and Natural Value. Gary Cohen, President of Natural Value, replied: “Yes, our coconut milk cans contain BPA….and contrary to what you may have read on the Internet, NOBODY is packing coconut milk in BPA free cans yet….we are working on that….”

    • Faith says

      Hey Mike! I have been in contact with Native Forest and Gary Cohen. Native Forest sent me a long email confirming that their cans are indeed BPA free. Gary told me the same thing he told you and did seem a bit angry when I told him what NF said. He didn’t believe me and wanted me to send him the email from NF. I would hope that NF is telling the truth. :)

  40. Amanda says

    Hi Chris,

    My coconut oil is made by centrifuging coconut milk. Is that ok? Or should I be looking for a different type of coconut oil?

    Thank you!

    Amanda

  41. Andriana Lam says

    I found frozen coconut milk at the asian market and the only ingredient is coconut milk- no gums- it’s frozen in flat plastic bags- seems like a great alternative to the cans with bpa. Check the frozen section at some of the ethnic markets- especially asian markets. I’m in the east bay area as well.

  42. Andriana Lam says

    Woa this is crazy because for awhile I tried have coconut milk ice-creams, hemp ice-creams to try replacing dairy and both my husband and I really didn’t feel well after eating them- headaches and stomach hurt- I didn’t know why at the time but I bet it was the gums they add!

  43. Dr. Gabriella Kadar says

    Coconut contains lauric acid: an atypical antibiotic. There have been studies using coconut oil for atopic dermatitis and skin infections caused by MRSA. It works. Possibly consumption of coconut products may help with various gastric issues as well. The fatty acid chain is 8 to 14 carbon atoms long. It is short enough to permeate the outer wall of bacteria. The reason for using the term ‘atypical’ is because traditional antibiotics are only effective when bacteria are active metabolically. Bacteria routinely go through periods of quiescence or ‘hibernation’. The lauric acid fatty acids in coconut oil penetrate the cell walls regardless of whether the bacteria is active or ‘hibernating’.

    As a side note: I found the title of the article to be somewhat misleading. I read it in its entirety.

  44. Betsy says

    Hi. After reading your article, I thought to email the manufacturer of the coconut water that I buy to find out about BPA content. Here is the question and response given to me. I wrote to them again to ask what exactly did they mean about ‘detectable amounts’ as it was unclear to me if the cans are lined with BPA still despite her response. What do you think? I’m not sure~

    Product: All Natural Coconut Juice, natural isotonic beverage unsweetened 100% Juice no preservatives
    Brand/Manufacturer: amy&brian amyandbriannaturals.com
    Ingredients: young coconut juice
    a product of Thailand

    Q: I love your coconut drinks, I would like to know however if the can containing the juice is lined with Bisphenol-A (BPA). Please advise.

    A: We have chosen a liner that contains no detectable amounts of BPA in either the liquid or final form.

    Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

    Thanks,
    Rebecca Matthiesen
    Market Connections Group
    360-433-2325
    Fax 360-828-7851

    • Betsy says

      Here is the second reply from the manufacturer’s rep:

      Because our supplier does not claim that the liner is BPA free we cannot use that claim either. All we can state is what we know – that we have done multiple tests on both the liquid and dried forms without detecting ANY amount of BPA in either form. We began doing these test nearly 10 years ago, before most people knew what BPA was, so that we could offer the purest product possible. I hope this helps.

      Thanks,
      Rebecca Matthiesen
      Market Connections Group
      360-433-2325
      Fax 360-828-7851

  45. Betsy says

    Hi again,

    Another product I have been purchasing is Coconut Dream which contains Gellan Gum. Is this another thickener like Guar Gum?

    I have experienced bloating after consuming this and had wondered what was the cause. This product has other additives.

    I appreciate your feedback!

  46. Kelly says

    With all due respect, I would add a FOURTH reason that coconut milk, and especially coconut oil might not be good at all for some people…

    The high salicylate/phenol content. In those with anxiety issues, many of which can be a direct result of salicylates and/or phenols (as in many autism spectrum disorders), if one eats too many, or in some cases even low amounts of salicylate containing foods, they might experience a severe anxiety or agitation problems, along with other neurological issues.

    • Croswind says

      Thank you Kelly, coconut is high in sulfur too.some people are sensitive to sulfur and cannot eliminate sulfur from their body as quickly, especially people with MTHFR gene defect

  47. thinkingmom says

    OK – so I am at a loss. O after reading this and the article on nuts, I am feeling incredibly frustrated about what I CAN and SHOULD eat – no flour or sugar, no nut flours, no nuts (without going through a 2 day process), no coconut milk, no coconut flour, etc. My goodness, is it just meat and greens and eggs – or are we going to find something wrong with those too? (To much oxalic acid in spinach maybe!) Maybe I am just overwhelmed but what seems to be on one place to be “THINGS TO EAT” is on someone else’s “FOOD TO AVOID” list. Maybe you could put together a list of acceptable foods, it should take too long as I don’t think it will be a very long list. Sorry if this sounds rude – not trying to be – just feeling really discouraged…

    • Chris Kresser says

      I understand your frustration, but as I said in the article phytic acid doesn’t need to be eliminated completely. Most people will be fine eating a large handful of nuts every day – provided they’ve been properly prepared. Putting nuts in water, and then dehydrating them requires minimal effort, although it does take some time. I understand that spending time on food preparation isn’t popular these days, but if you’re interested in health and wellness that’s what’s required.

      I’ve never made any absolute statements like the ones you’re making “no coconut milk, no coconut flour, etc.”. I’ve simply pointed out that some people have trouble with canned coconut milk, and that many varieties of canned coconut milk have BPA – a known neurotoxin. I think you are overwhelmed, and that’s understandable – but there’s no reason to freak out. There’s still plenty to eat. My diet is extremely rich and varied.

      I think I’ll take you up on your suggestion to provide a foods to eat and avoid list. Stay tuned.

      • James says

        Hi Chris, I’d really appreciate that list of ‘foods to eat’ and ‘foods to avoid’ too. I’m afraid I’m in much the same boat as Thinkingmom. A single page image you can print out and stick on your fridge or something would be awesome. I know you did something similar in the ’9 steps to perfect health’ articles, but a little more detail on the food side would really be appreciated.

        Cheers for your blog.

        • Nicole says

          I appreciate this article Chris and also feel the frustration of thinking mom. I have psoriasis and because of that am supposed to avoid nightshades, eggs and dairy. Additionally I find the case for eating in a primal way compelling (as a self diagnosed carb addict and general overeater) so am trying to transition to that as well. I think myself and others cling to foods like coconut milk with all our might because we already feel as though we’ve given up so much. Of course you are just a messenger and it’s likely that many of us end up overdoing it on coconut or nuts, etc. because we have an underlying need to consume a lot in general. Anyway, I’m glad that you dont just tell people what they want to hear and emphasize that everyone has to be their own experimental subject.

  48. Sammie says

    To Thinkingmom,

    That is pretty much my diet right now, meats, eggs and greens. I do have autoimmune and gut issues and if I stray very far from that limited diet, I can feel it right away. But I feel so much better, sleep better, more energy, clear headed without the nuts, coconut milk, chocolate, etc., so I choose feeling better and healing my gut. I just went slowly with an elimination diet to find out what was causing me problems, ended up on a FODMAPS/paleo/yeast-free diet. I know it seems overwhelming at first, but keep at it because it is so worth it.

    Chris, I love your blog, thanks for all you do!

  49. Thaiguy says

    Everything today that is in a can has some poison, so my advise don,t eat a case of coconut milk at every meal.

  50. Talayna Testa says

    Hi Chris, I am new to your site and would like to know how I can read, “When your normal blood sugar isn’t normal” PART 2 Thanks a bunch, Talayna

  51. Cass says

    You say at the end of this article “People with digestive problems (IBS, IBD, GERD, etc. may want to avoid coconut products entirely, except for coconut oil”
    Does the “etc” include people with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance? As you may know, alot of people on Paleo do so because of food allergies ( I am allergic to dairy, grains, peanuts and of course gluten) but not tree nuts. I am assuming that a coconut is a tree nut. Lately I have been getting alot of uncharacteristic breakout type activity and I am wondering if I can’t process the protein in coconut (hence is true regarding legumes and casein for me and many others with Celiac) or if I am indulging too much and the fat content is messing up homeostasis or…what? Can you help?

    • says

      Here is an academic paper from a FODMAPS expert in Australia indicating that coconut milk is in fact HIGH in fructose, so perhaps there is an issue with the data from other sources. It may explain why some people are sensitive to coconut milk who also have issues with other fructose sources.

      http://sacfs.asn.au/download/SueShepherd_sarticle.pdf

      Reliable data about the chemical content (natural or otherwise) seems to be a big issue for those attempting to identify problem sources in their food. Oxalate content is another area where there are major discrepancies between sources.

      thanks for a wonderful blog Chris!

  52. Karen says

    I’ve been buying Aroy-D coconut milk in a green carton. 2 ingredients … coconut extract & water.
    I drink a fair amount of it in a day including it in many dishes and also in my coffee.
    I think I’m probably overdoing it. I also use coconut oil in my cooking and have just ordered coconut manna.
    I may look like a coconut in the near future. :)

  53. hollie says

    I swear. Coconuts are a functional food. Eat them FRESH. 30% of the world uses coconut in their daily diet and they are NOT fat. Sigh. Everyone has all of these food intolerences because they only eat crap store bought processed foods and a fresh coconut cleans them out by giving them the shits. Fresh coconuts are NOT bad for anyone!

    • Cass says

      I beg to differ~I dont eat processed foods, because I AM ALLERIC to them. If I am allergic to other nuts why NOT coconuts. *sigh* You fail.

      • holie says

        A person allergic to peanuts will likely not be allergic to coconut. Look into it possibly to see why people really are allergic to nuts sometime. If we went with your silly logic, someone allergic to apples would be allergic to all fruits. SIGH. ya big dummy.

    • Croswind says

      Coconuts ARE bad for someone if they have a Delayed IgG or Acute allergy IgA to them, especially if they are leaky gut. That needs to be healed first before adding any food intolerances back in the diet. Plus, some people cannot eliminate sulfur from the diet if they have MTHFR gene defects. Coconuts are high in sulfur.

  54. Maggie says

    I have diabetes and have just gotten out of the hospital after a bad bout of diverticulitis – I also have hypo-thyroid disorder and boy am I having a problem trying to figure out what to eat. Right now I am on a liquid diet and I bought coconut beverage unsweetened and it lists only coconut as it’s ingredients – however, I am also on Nexium, 40mg twice a day and as soon as I made a smoothie using the coconut beverage I had to take a nexium and the reflux misery still hasn’t passed. I did add protein powder to the milk and strawberries and a scoop of a calcium supplement – any thoughts as to why it triggered the reflux or am I just one of the people who should avoid coconut? If so what can I use as a base for my smoothies given that I can’t have many carbs or sugars? I really could use some good advice please. Maggie

    • Karen B. says

      All of those processed foods you’re ingesting probably caused the reflux. Try to stick to things not in a box, bag, carton or can. Meat, veg, fruit. I’ll bet your reflux is gone overnight. Mine was.

  55. Nick says

    I cringe at the thought of people consuming coconut milk like a normal drink. I grew up with a diet full of coconuts but never did I drink a glass full of coconut milk. We normally only use it for cooking and that quantity of coconut milk is enough to feed the whole family of four or six. For a single person, two or three tablespoon of it per meal should be enough or better yet, just eat a piece of coconut meat to get the benefits of the fiber as well. However, I don’t really eat the meat from mature coconuts, only from young coconuts which is softer and thinner. So take it easy with your coconut milk consumption. Don’t overfed yourself.

    • John says

      I have IBS and coconut milk causes major pains no matter how little I drink. Kind of sad considering how much I like it.

    • Gail says

      I don’t know if the boxes are BPA-free but there is so much junk via the ingredients: sugar, carrageenan and other not such great stuff.

  56. Mike Ellwood says

    On BPA in cash-register receipts:

    I haven’t seen anyone express any concern for the poor shop-assistants / supermarket cashiers, who have to handle till receipts all the time (not to mention cash which has passed through thousands of hands).
    [Apologies if anyone _has_ expressed concern! - Anyway, I'm sure you get my drift].

    It would be good if there were some sort of concerted attempt to bring the problem to the attention of the retail industry, and the cash-register industry. (And the trade unions).

    And the employees concerned probably need to be wearing some sort of appropriate gloves.
    (They don’t, typically, here in the UK. I don’t know what happens in the USA).

  57. says

    So is organic coconut milk that is in a box from the store not okay? Like Silk or So Delicious? How about Trader Joe’s coconut milk that comes in a box?

  58. Donelia says

    Question for Chris Kresser: I have diverticulitis. Why is it that when I eat my favorite dish, Pumpkin Curry, served at my favorite Thai restaurant and contains coconut milk, my stomach feels like I just gave it a soothing bath. It feels l just took some miracle elixir. I have no immediate reaction to this dish as I do with a lot of other foods I eat.

  59. Gina says

    I just ordered a case of the Native Forest brand from Amazon. SO glad they have BPA free cans! I was starting to get worried since I do make dishes with the coconut milk and my kids eat them and love it.

    Thank you!! This was a very informative article!

  60. Robin says

    Wow, I’m really surprised at how many negative comments this article got. Nowhere do I see Chris giving any advice that would be detrimental to someone’s health. He’s suggesting what you MAY want to watch out for if you have certain health issues. And after all, isn’t that what we’re all doing on the Internet, looking for help with our health issues that we aren’t finding through regular medicine? He’s not saying “Do this. It will definitely help.” He’s saying “If you’re having this problem, you may want to try this, or avoid that. This is what he’s found through helping his clients, and he’s offering the info to all of us. We can take it or leave it, try it, and if it helps, great, if it doesn’t, no harm done. I appreciate the advice.

  61. Paul says

    Superb site Chris what a wealth of knowledge from not only yourself but execellent comments thanks
    everyone.

    Recently looking into improving my healthy eating in general and added coconut milk in can to which
    I’ve had no trouble.However to be on the safe side after mentioned BPM I skip that. Makes alot of sense.

    Maybe simple solution would be eating a whole coconut. Although knowing where our food originally originates from is also opening up can of worms.

    cheers

  62. Cassandra says

    This makes so much sense to me. I didn’t understand why my stomach would hurt and I felt a little sick after eating coconut milk. How frustrating it must be to have to deal with so many argumentive people! thanks Doc!

  63. jb says

    I really think that you have concentrated to much on the ‘canned’ side of things here. You really do make it sound as though it’s the coconut milk itself that is mainly the cuplrit yet two out of your three reasons for this article place that blame squarely at the cans and not the product itself. Going on about BPA in relation to coconut milk is really the wrong way to ago about it. If you had written this article on coconut milk that comes in cartons then your ‘BPA in cans’ argument would be void and you would be left with one reason coconut milk could be bad for you. This being Guar Guam. Yes this can cause problems with people with IBS because it is a binding agent. However taken with lots of water it shouldn’t really be an issue at all.

    Of course however, if you have a GI obstruction then Guar Gum is bad as it can be with other similar ilnesses. This however is NOT a reason to say that coconut milk is bad for you, it’s better by far than cows milk in every way for vitamins and minerals and equal in other. It has more calories though which people trying to lose weight will not like but that is another issue.

    To quote you ‘I don’t need any more evidence than this: certain patients feel bad after eating coconut milk (even homemade), and then feel better when they remove it’

    Why do so many of your patients even drink coconut milk, this I find a strange statement.

    Finally, what would you siggest we drink for a our milk intake?

  64. jb says

    Just want to explain my final question a little more. Milk by nature is meant and only meant for infants, be they human or animal. It was not ever supposed to be consumed by adults neither human or animal, this is a fact of nature. Cows milk is the way it is, because that’s the way nature intended it. Not forgetting a cow has four stomachs to our one, milk is the way it is because those four stomachs are able to digest it correctly.

    So hence my question, as animal/human milk is only intended by nature for infants what milk are we supposed to consume? Soya? Well documented as having mainy unhealthy attributes. Rice milk? Lacking in almost everything which brings us to coconut milk.

    Now if nature intended animal/human milk for infants, what did it intend for coconuts? Were they just supposed to hang off the trees looking good? Surely, out of EVERY milk there is, this is the only natural ‘milk’ which nature intended for adults to drink, if we didn’t what use would it have? answer = it wouldn’t and its existance would be pointless for the most part. As nature is rarely pointless….

    Go on, think about it…

  65. YoungFreshCoconutLover says

    TWO DIFFERENT PRODUCTS!

    This discussion has become a bit confused, because we’re talking about two different products as if they were the same thing. Allow me to clarify.

    The original article was about traditional canned coconut milk, which is a thick, oily, creamy product intended for use in cooking, especially curries and other thick sauces. You’re not meant to drink this kind of coconut milk, and if you did, you would probably feel sick, as if you’d eaten a bar of butter. It usually comes in cans, which usually contain BPA. Since Chris’s original article is talking about this kind of coconut milk, it emphasizes the BPA aspect.

    The other product that is being referred to in these comments, but not explicitly in the original article, is the kind of drinkable coconut milk that usually comes in tetra-packs. Rather than thick and creamy, it is lighter, more like milk than cream. It is not “coconut milk” at all in the traditional sense, but merely a recent commercial innovation that has been created, and named, to compete with soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, and all the other “milk substitutes” that people who wish to avoid dairy use to satisfy their craving for dairy products, and products that behave like dairy in cooking and in coffee, etc. The tetra-paks do not, to my knowledge, containing BPA, so that is not an issue. However, as Chris’s article states, coconut meat may be a FODMAP, which means it may cause trouble for some, not all, people. Furthermore, many if not all of these drinkable coconut milks are heavily sweetened, and contain guar gum and carrageenan. Just as an example, here are the ingredients for “So Delicious Original Coconut Milk Beverage”:

    INGREDIENTS: Coconut Cream (Water, Coconut, Guar Gum), Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D-2, L-Selenomethionine (Selenium), Zinc Oxide, Folic Acid, Vitamin B-12.

    It occurs to me that this extensive and fascinating discussion would be much clearer and more meaningful if our commenters would recognize the distinction between these two very different products, and comment accordingly. Thanks!

    • jb says

      Kara dairy free coconut milk contains only naturally occuring sugar and NO guar gum.

      And actually contrary to what you say, it would be more clearful and meaningful if the original article was written better and entitled why ‘products in cans’ could be bad for you. Mentioning cocnut milk in the title was just plain stupid and misleading. Thanks!

    • charger says

      This message board is a case study in the lack of critical thinking skills within our society. It would be comical if there were some indication that it was all part of some elaborate, dark, inside joke. Alas, I doubt that it is.

  66. says

    Hi Chris,

    I very much enjoy your articles and investigations into food health. I suffered a health crisis in 2007 being diagnosed with ideopathic pancreatitis and was written off by the medical community. A very restricted diet and focused health plan brought me back to health; albeit after having lost 1/3 of my pancreas. I continue that journey of optimum health and qualitfy of life. I am very curious re: the fructose malabsorption, which seesm to fit with my health sequelae. Do you know how to diagnose fructose intolerance?

    Thanks, Jamie

  67. Liz says

    First, of all, thank you so very much Chris for such a wonderful site.

    What about coconut aminos? I’ve just discovered them as an alternate to soy sauce,
    and I just love it!

  68. Christine says

    How is it possible that so many people are so monumentally naive? Most people who are currently following a Paleo lifestyle are self taught from various website and books. And while those sources are a great place to start it’s Chris who is letting you know information that maybe you would need. I don’t remember reading anywhere in any book or blog about this info regarding coconut milk. Just because maybe these things don’t effect you doesn’t mean it’s information that shouldn’t be available. Stop being so judgmental, if the information works for you then implement it if it doesn’t then leave it alone.

    • jb says

      But he is referring to coconut milk used for cooking that comes in a can! It has nothing to do with the coconut milk we consume as a dairy alternative, that’s why were being judgmental, the article is flawed.

  69. Mollie says

    My husband and I both ate So-Delicious ice cream last night and both of us are still having severe stomache pains and wierd reactions. We don’t have any gut problems or food allergies. I got online to see if anyone had the same experience…looks like we are not the only ones!

  70. Karen B. says

    Thanks for this article. Fresh coconut and coconut water I’m fine with but canned coconut milk makes me feel awful. I cook with canned coconut milk occasionally because I love the taste and texture but I’m going to cut it out and go with fresh from now on.

  71. Vanessa V. says

    I bought So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage in a carton last night then stumbled on this article. As I don’t have any known GI problems and no apparent food allergies and having drunk/eaten coconut juice and meat as a kid, I thought I’d be fine. I drank 1/4 of a cup this morning to taste it then added a little to my coffee (trying to go dairy free to see if my acne improves) and developed pain and pressure in my upper GI. I ended up having to leave work and spent the day either throwing up or in bed! If it hadn’t been for this article who knows what I would have thought was going on. Thanks for the information Chris! Even a person who didn’t think they needed the info ended up needing the info. I’m not sure if it was the coconut milk itself or the carrageenan and guar gum, but at least now I know what to be wary of in the future. I’m Asian and my mom had an I told you so look on her face. lol I think certain coconut dishes give her stomach trouble too. I was mildly lactose intolerant in the past, although it went away for some reason, and this was so much worse. Ugh.

    If you have no problems drinking coconut milk, then I envy you since I like the taste, but this type of article is invaluable information to have and empowers the consumer. Plus, it’s the Internet so you just need to use your critical thinking skills. Thanks again, Chris!

      • Venny says

        Hi jb, I tried natural KARA coconut milk in tetra pack, I bought it in local market Sigonas farmers market, close to Standford shopping mall. It was great so far as part of my cooking ingredients. And when I looked into the nutrition facts, I am confident with this product. But please notice, this is for cooking and not for direct drinking. Thanks for mentioned it.

  72. Sara H. says

    I realize this is an old post but I see the topic continues so I thought I might add my 2 cents.
    canned coconut milk = stomach upset for me so I conclude it must be the guar gum.
    So I start making my own with shredded coconut that leads me to such severe cramps I’m laying on the couch moaning. Thought maybe it was too much pineapple so I try again with no pineapple 2 weeks later. The waves of cramps start but because I consumed much less I’m able to function.
    Shredded coconut also gives me severe cramps but I thought it was the fiber.
    Too much coconut oil gives me fungal infections since I am prone to them (see Paul Jaminet’s blog for that) I have to be very careful to keep my consumption low.
    So, I understand the enthusiasm for coconut products by people concerned with their health but it is obviously not beneficial for “everyone” like Chris said in his post. And believe me I am truly bummed especially since I am allergic to dairy. I definitely have a problem w/ fructose malabsorption I just never would have connected coconuts with fructose. Thanks Chris for your always informative posts!

  73. says

    Hi. I’ve been making almond milk yogurt and now coconut milk yogurt thanks to my new vitamix. Someone cautioned about the bacteria Burkholderia cocovenenans. Does this occur on dried coconut to ? should I boil to 180 ?

    Thanks !

  74. Al says

    Wow this is turning into a very interesting debate. I encourage all to continue to actively participate.
    I am a chef and primarily a home cook focused on back to basics. I say why rely on anything commercial?
    I had digestive issues for a few years much of it I was blaming it on yeast. That was a red herring. Then I blamed it on a lack of a particular enzime, I am not sure yet, may be another red herring. One thing I am sure of is that buying my coconuts at my local grocer for a couple of bucks, shell it to get the nut material, shred it with my hand grater, add hot water and strain it and voila!. Delicious and has addressed my issues. Very easy, cheap, and even fun. I don’t discard the leftover shreded coconut, I make cookies!! BONUS!! :)

  75. Lauren says

    hey chris!
    i really appreciated the article, and thanks to it, i’ll now try to source the organic BPA-free coconut cream to blend with water. don’t know why there are so many negative comments at the beginning of this thread. anyways–i have a kind of rookie question here, it sounds a little silly, but if coconut milk has barely any sugar, how is it so sweet? i’ve always assumed there must be some sugar component to it, as i could just eat it with a spoon for dessert!
    would love to hear back from you! thanks again.

  76. says

    Nice job on the article as always….

    You state: “Nevertheless, I do have patients that cannot even tolerate homemade coconut milk (which has no guar gum in it), even though they are fine with coconut oil. I assume that they are reacting to the fructose in the coconut milk – but I can’t be sure.”

    It can be the fructose, but I doubt it. There are a plethora of other antigens that can be causing an improper immune response or a loss of oral tolerance to the coconut. Anything can be an antigen causing a loss of oral tolerance. Coconut can cause Type III and maybe Type IV reactions, no common for Type I and not related to a tree nut. But also it can be a non-immunological cause in that say the fat is just difficult for some people to digest especially the meat and creams.

    George

  77. LinD says

    I enjoyed this article as it is timely after I noticed a steady increase in weight after adding canned CM. Recently, I used 1.5 cans of Thai Kitchen brand CM over two days. While I noticed a slight increase in the past when I made a delicious curry chicken dish, I thought maybe I used too much salt—maybe not! So, after omitting the CM for the last two days, I am down 1.8#. Does this mean I give up on CM? No, but I will seek CM without guar gum. If nothing else, then I will make it myself from some of the threads found here. Thank you so much, Mr. Kresser!

  78. Michelle says

    I for one am grateful for this article. Having been diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption Disorder a couple of weeks ago (following hydrogen testing). Coconut Milk is officially on the “eat safely” list provided by the dietitian when commencing my elimination diet. I was frustrated when experiencing symptoms immediately on consumption of homemade icecream (from coconut cream & lactose free milk). Today I was pregnant looking by the time I consumed a bowl of soup made with safe foods and coconut milk. This article has confirmed my suspician – as a FructMal coconut milk is not good for me; exactly why is irrelevant, as it clearly cannot remain on my personal “safe” list Thank you.

  79. TyAnne says

    These comments or I should these critical, rude comments are exactly why I don’t like joining blogs. I grew up believing that people should be able to speak and if you disagree you state your position without deliberately insulting the speaker or presenter. I disagree and am very opinionated but I do try not to be rude and nit pick the author’s writing style or his presentation. God forbid, it could be my own inability to comprehend the article and not the writer’s presentation. It seems as people forget or don’t care about being polite.

    I’ve gotten some very good information from Chris Kresser’s site. I appreciate that. If I ever disagree, I hope to state it in a way that’s not inflammatory or rude. But then, I’m a pretty happy person who believes in ‘live and let live’, ‘treat others the way you want to be treated’, ‘apologize when you should’, etc. So this criticism going on and on is unpleasant to me.

  80. jojo96701 says

    I recently had SO DELICIOUS Coconut Milk in a carton. That was my very first time drinking coconut milk out of a carton but later that evening I got a really bad cramping stomach pain and diarrhea. I have never had a problem with the canned coconut milk (the ones you find in the Asian section of the grocery store) when i use it for cooking. Could there be another ingredient in the coconut milk in the CARTON that is affecting me? I LOVE Coconut milk and would like to find one that I can tolerate. I also cook with Coconut OIL and seem to have no problem. That would be a bummer if COCONUT in general is causing the problem. I have never really suffered from IBS so not sure what is going on. I’ve been doing Paleo for 30 days now.

  81. Sheila says

    I found this article not fascinating but very helpful. I just read an article in “Eating Well” about the harmful BPA’s in microwaveable food containers, i.e. frozen meals, and was appalled. I had no idea that this was harmful to us or that it affected our hormones. Consumers today need to know what we are being served – right down to the last microbe. If it’s something that goes into our system and we’re paying for it (literally) we have a right to know as much as possible. Thanks for the highly informative article….

  82. Indy M. says

    I tried the Coconut Milk from Whole Foods(Thai Product, Organic); tasted OK, added to my Lamb gravy for pretty color and taste. But 30 minutes after Lunch the burping started, continued non-stop for 6 hours. What caused it, I am not sure! I have had Coconut Milk before in Thai dishes, do not recall the ballistic burps happening before. May be it is the Guar gum, not sure. Not buying that product again, will try Coconut Milk again, if I can find it without additives and in carton.

  83. Hancy says

    Hey Chris. Love your work. So is guar gum present in only canned coconut milk? Are the ones in cartons free of it?

  84. peter christian says

    Hi Chris,
    vary interesting stuff i am from the UK and the only Coconut Milk we have in our local store is Kara this
    comes in a Carton so i assume this is okay unlike the brands you mention above its not cheap though
    it retails at £1:34 i dont know what that comes to in Dollars

    thanks – Reagards – Peter

    • Jamie says

      Hello Peter

      I’m from the UK and I have found a tinned brand by Heera. It contains only coconut and water. No Guar gum at all. It’s what I use.

  85. Jamie says

    Chris has just given an informative article that allows people to go away and think about their own dietru choices.

    As someone who beleives in the libertarian notion of individual choice then everyone has the right to decide what they want to eat. And as a libertarian then that also means that I don’t beleive in people offending others who hold different views to them and also trying to force others to change their views.

    With that said it would be interesting to know if the trolls that seem to have posted vicious comments on here are vegans or not?

  86. says

    I find this article very negative. These three points are minor especially given I buy my coconut milk in a carton and other non-dairy milks have guar gum added. The fructose piece is interesting, but minor given the amount of sugar in coconut milk. More of a sentence than the half-page explanation you have going there.

    I consider this one of the many headline-grabbing BS articles flooding the net. Just another Dr. Mercola–sometimes the science is OK, but the approach drives people into a place of fear–not what is needed in today’s media-influenced, fear-based society.

    In fact coconut milk is terrific in many ways and vastly superior to soy and cow’s milk products. Way to turn people off of a good thing.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Because it’s not a good thing if it has BPA in it (the vast majority sold in cans do, and most people buy it in cans), or if the guar gum or fructose are causing significant digestive issues. Cow’s milk is a nutrient-dense, health promoting food as long as it’s well-tolerated, and especially if it’s fermented.

      • says

        Erm…no it’s not. It is completely unnatural to drink cow or goat’s milk. We are the only animal in the world to drink another animals milk (other than a snake), the vast majority of people don’t have the required digestive enzymes to process it (because it is completely unnatural) and its consumption is highly linked to diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, early-onset of puberty and a variety of cancers. Are you getting your information and your recommendations from the lobbyist-influenced FDA or from the peer-reviewed literature?

        See Dr. Linda Folden Palmer’s book “Baby Bond” for a highly cited chapter reviewing the literature on milk, formula and health.

        • Chris Kresser says

          That’s a tired argument with no scientific basis. Lactase persistance has reached 95+% in certain cultures, particularly in Northern Europeans and in other milk-drinking regions. The fact that cow’s milk isn’t a suitable formula for babies says nothing about whether it’s an acceptable food for adults.

          To suggest that I am influenced by the FDA indicates that you aren’t familiar with my work – at all. Show me a peer-reviewed study that demonstrates that milk does anything you suggested it does. Epidemiological studies don’t prove causation, but in fact many of them suggest that full-fat dairy has cardiovascular benefits and reduces the risk of T2DM. I don’t recommend pasteurized milk, but full-fat and fermented dairy are beneficial when well-tolerated.

          • says

            The ‘certain cultures’ you name are a very minute portion of humanity. In fact, 80% of Native Americans, 75% of African Americans, 100% of native Asians and Africans, and 50% of all Hispanics* cannot digest lactose.

            Here are a few studies describing impacts from dairy consumption. There are many, many more to be named.

            G. Dahlquist et al., “An increased level of antibodies to beta-lactoglobulin is a risk determinant for early-onset type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus independent of islet cell antibodies and early introduction of cow’s milk,” Diabetologia (Sweden) 35, no. 10 (Oct 1992): 980–4.

            R.M. Bostick et al., “Relation of calcium, vitamin D, and dairy food intake to ischemic heart disease mortality among postmenopausal women,” Am J Epidemiol 149, no. 2 (Jan 1999): 151-61

            C. La Vecchia et al., “Dairy products and the risk of prostatic cancer,” Oncology 48, no. 5 (1991): 406-10

            D. Ganmaa and A. Sato, “The possible role of female sex hormones in milk from pregnant cows in the development of breast, ovarian and corpus uteri cancers,” Med Hypotheses (Japan) 65, no. 6 (2005): 1028-37

            B.L. Riggs et al., “Dietary calcium intake and rates of bone loss in women,” J Clin Invest 80, no.4 (Oct 1987): 979–82.

            *reference or stats on lactose intolerance: N.S. Scrimshaw and E.B. Murray, “The acceptability of milk and milk products in populations with a high prevalence of lactose intolerance,” Am J Clin Nutr 48, no. 4, suppl. (Oct 1988): 1079–159.

            • Chris Kresser says

              Not one of those studies proves a causal relationship between dairy and those diseases. If we’re going to bring epidemiological/prospective studies into this, perhaps you should take a look at these:

              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22081692 (Dairy protects against heart disease)

              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21660519 (High intake of fermented milk may reduce the risk of CVD)

              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21348924 (Majority of studies reviewed suggest dairy lowers risk of metabolic syndrome)

              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21559046 (Dairy reduces risk of type 2 diabetes)

              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21447660 (Higher consumption of dairy associated with lower incidence of metabolic syndrome)

              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20610172 (Dairy provides protection against and amelioration of chronic diseases related to obesity. These include overweight, insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome/type 2 diabetes, hypertension/stroke, and cardiovascular disease.)

              And here is the most important study in relation to our discussion:

              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20397059

              I’ll quote directly from the abstract:

              The health effects of milk and dairy food consumption would best be determined in randomised controlled trials. No adequately powered trial has been reported and none is likely because of the numbers required. The best evidence comes, therefore, from prospective cohort studies with disease events and death as outcomes.

              In other words, as I’ve been saying, you can’t use epidemiological research to prove that dairy is harmful. Only RCTs can do that.

              But what do prospective cohort studies with disease events and death as outcomes (rather than speculation on harmful mechanisms with no real endpoints) have to say?

              The number of cohort studies which give evidence on individual dairy food items is very small, but, again, there is no convincing evidence of harm from consumption of the separate food items. In conclusion, there appears to be an enormous mis-match between the evidence from long-term prospective studies and perceptions of harm from the consumption of dairy food items.

              I’m afraid you’ll have a very hard time using scientific studies to prove that dairy is harmful. I have hundreds of patients. In almost all cases I put them on a 30-day Paleo elimination diet without dairy, and then have them add it back in (if they wish). That is how individual tolerance to dairy is determined. If someone tolerates it well, dairy is an extremely nutritious food, full of fat-soluble vitamins, CLA and saturated fats. If dairy is not tolerated, it can certainly cause health problems. But that does not make it a bad food choice for everyone.

  87. says

    Chris,

    Thank you so much for bringing to our attention this issue of BPA leeching into the foods that are fatty, acidic, or salty. After reading your post I’ve been much more cautious…

    I wanted to signal here that there is in the US a brand that offers ‘canned tomatoes’ in a special jar to avoid BPA leeching into the tomatoes! Here is the link:

    http://paleoresources.com/paleo-primal-resource/eden-organic

    Also, I wanted your advice on something related to your post: would you recommend to be low on canned sardines? I eat a lot of canned sardines in olive oil and I’m starting to wonder whether this is dangerous, as this is precisely a very fatty-and-salty food. What do you think?

    Thanks again for the invaluable information on your website :-)

  88. Christina says

    Just wanted to thank you for this article. I’m a B blood type. I avoided dairy for years until I found out that the antigen that creates the B blood type is actually Galactose (Glucose plus Lactose). I’m now looking for ways to get more Galactose and lactose into my diet. You provided several!

    People have made diet a point of contention that seems bound to replace race intolerance. I hope nutritionist learn that, although the body has been blessed with extreme flexibility, not everyone flourishes on the same foods. B’s NEED milk, O’s NEED meat, and A’s can get along with a carrot or two. :-) I wonder what other delectable differences are lurking in our bodies and blood!

  89. Katherine Nash says

    Guess I am extremely lucky. I live in Thailand on a remote Island where coconuts are a hazard because they fall out of trees and injure people. Coconut milk, oil , and water, is made locally and you can’t get it in cans even if you wanted to. I guess what I sacrifice in convenience I gain in health.. thanks for the article, it helps me to make informed choices!!! (oh and the only place that gives out printed receipts is 7/11, and no-one even takes those…) have a great day!!

  90. Alex says

    Hi, I thought you might be interested to know that latest testing from Australia’s Monash University shows that the level of sorbitol in coconut products, even shredded coconut is so low it should not be a problem for FODMAP sensitive people. Of course, there may be other things in the coconut that the people you are mention react to but it is helpful to know it is not the sorbitol or any other FODMAP. Personally, I have extremely bad FODMAP sensitivity but thrive on all pure coconut products. Throw a little sweetener in there like honey or raw agave and it is a whole other story…. Cheers, Alex

  91. SANDRA YAMIN says

    You can easily buy coconut milk in cartons or little glass containers in BRAZIL in any store. We have many recipes that include coconut milk since in Brazil there are so many coconut trees. “Muqueca” is a
    very traditional dish here made with fish and coconut milk. Delicious. And a very traditional dessert in “Manjar branco”. attn, Sandra.

  92. snj says

    I’m in sri lanka, for us coconut is a everyday food, because you can’t make sri lankan food without coconut milk, so me, my parents, my ancestors consumes coconut milk in all of our life, actually my parents and ancestors probably consumed it more than us, but yet I can’t see any bad symptoms…

  93. Oaken says

    I found that drinking coconut milk made me immediately gain weight. Coconut milk has 5 grams of fat (5 of which are saturated) and I was doing fine being off of milk. I was drinking nonfat milk and only stopped because of a mild dairy allergy. I found that even a serving or two of coconut milk a day not only stopped me from losing weight but made me feel bloated and by the end of the half gallon I could tell I was gaining weight. I would dilute the coconut milk if I was ever going to drink it again.

  94. lonni says

    apparently, some ppl just like to hec kle. actually, i found this article informative because a) it ale rted me to the fact that most canned “or ganic” brands aren’t BP A free (even tho i was already aware of the B PA in cans issue) and it gave me the couple brands that are b) it made me realize that even without B PA, i’m probably better of f mak ing my o wn, which is something i never really thought of. thank you for writing this!!!

      • SophieE says

        If one were to ferment the coconut milk(ie make a coconut milk yoghurt- I’ve done this in the past with aroy-d and it is delicious thickened with gelatin. It’s like a yogurt that barely tastes like coconut), would the whole FODMAPS deal be gone?

  95. N.E. says

    Thank you for your blog and all the work you do!

    I have Fructose Malabsorption, and coconut milk definitely causes trouble for me. (It was this page that first helped me put the pieces together after several disastrous Thai curries.)

    But apparently the newest research out of Australia now says that coconut milk is actually not a fodmap.
    Either there is some other FM-related mechanism at work, or it is a separate problem entirely. Either way, I avoid too much coconut milk these days because I know how it makes me feel.

    You might consider contacting the research team to confirm and update the info on this page accordingly. (Recap of twitter chat with Jaci Barrett, including mention that coconut milk is low fodmap: http://blog.katescarlata.com/fodmaps/fodmap-twitter-chat-recap-fodmapchat/)

  96. says

    Wow a lot of negative comments although it has confirmed what I hope wasn’t it; I switched over to Silk Coconut Milk about 3 weeks ago and then all of a sudden lots of stomach issues… gas, bloating, pain, constipation; I’ve been wondering what in earth is going on with my tummy and today as I served myself a glass, I realized this is the only new thing I have switched in my diet (I drink two protein shakes a day, I figured the coconut milk would be better for me, rather than skim milk); now I going to quick drinking and consuming coconut oil all together and in a month reintroduce only the oil (wondering about the plastic container it comes in, does that contain BPA)… Thanks for this information, definitively helped me.

  97. Michelle says

    I cannot drink coconut milk and I have IBS. I didn’t know why but now I do. It’s the guar gum and/or fructose. Too much fruit tears me up too. Thanks for the insight.

  98. Renate says

    To answer the question in the article about the Arroy-D brand. I use it, and the ingredients mentioned are coconut 60% and water, nothing else. If there are any additives they should be mentioned acoording European laws.

  99. Diana Van Pelt says

    I have one can of Native Forest coconut milk in my cupboard, and one on the sink empty. I’d bet money Chris, that the cans DO have BPA lining. Sure looks like it to me. -d

    • Karen says

      http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/7-companies-you-can-trust-to-use-bpa-free-cans.html

      If you do some research, Diana, you’ll find that Native Forest has a record of not using BPA as a liner. I’m not saying that whatever they’ve changed to is healthy but seriously? You can tell from looking at the open can on your (and my) counter top? Seriously, a quick search will show that they have been committed to this for quite some time. There are many sources, not just the one I posted. It simply was the first to pop up this time. I checked before I purchased.

      Chris, this is my first visit to your blog and honestly, probably the last. The sharks are snarky mean and they don’t contribute to any real discussion or add benefit. You wrote a good article that I found beneficial and informative and gave me some insight into why someone I love is reacting to a quality canned coconut milk. I thank you for that insight but if I want a feeding frenzy complete with rudeness, I can go to a family reunion………. I avoid them like the plague.

  100. Jeanne says

    Thank you Chris for your great site!

    I didn’t read all comments, so if you addressed this already, please disregard my question and i will just continue reading…

    I use the Coconut Dream brand coconut drink for my coconut milk and it comes in quart boxes–do these boxes have BPA’s?

    • Jeanne says

      …found my answer to a different product, the So Delicious brand (http://www.sodeliciousdairyfree.com/made-with-care ) has not BPA in the containers and the link here is where i found the info.

      Problem is, while looking for that answer, i found a whole different debate on problems with the artificial fatsoluable vitamins that are added to this product. Supposedly fat soluable vitamins are mirror image (chemically) to the real vitamins and that does worry me. Any thoughts?

  101. Laura says

    AROY-D coconut milk is NOT just coconut milk, even if the “made for export” labels make it look that way. i´ve seen the full ingredients list and as with nearly all coconut milks, it has E224 added…NOT GOOD!

  102. says

    Isn’t coconut cream the kind with a ton of sugar so just adding water to it would be defeating the purpose of being healthy. I found a brand in a can without additives even guar gum. It’s good. Also, I’ve never seen coconut cream in anything but a can. There is a coconut water and coconut milk that is sold in a carton that I’ve seen. The “milk” probably has the guar gum, but the water doesn’t and it’s in a carton. It’s pretty new and too expensive though :(

  103. Downunder says

    I am unable to eat dairy in any shape or form, but have luckily found organic coconut yoghurt that seems to agree with me. I get no digestive problems what so ever and the flavour is amazing, very addictive. Co-Yo is the brand name but unfortunately it is only available in Australia.

    You should also be aware that some of the symptoms can be caused by gluten which is added to many coconut milks, so unless gluten free, the likelyhood of gluten being present is high, which may cause some of the digestive problems as well.

    E224 also exists in wine, beer and many other products, so if you are fine with them, you shouldn’t have any problems with it in coconut milk. http://blog.caloricious.com/2011/05/20/potassium-metabisulfite-e224-the-antioxidant-used-to-preserve-beverages/

  104. Heather says

    Wow!!!! This article and all the comments were very helpful to me. I work out 6 days a week, and adhere to a very strict diet. Like another reader, I started gaining weight rapidly (10 pounds!!!!). I had major bloating, gas, and constipation; and when I look back, the ONLY addition I made to my diet was 1/4 cup coconut milk in my oatmeal preworkout. Believe me, People, I love the stuff too, but don’t hate the writer of the article bacause you don’t like what you may have to do, i.e., give it up!!!! Thanks again for the info.

  105. J says

    Mendonca makes a frozen coconut milk. People in hawaii prefer Mendonca over any coconut milk out there. It is not in a can but sealed in a plastic freezer bag.

  106. Karin says

    This may be a bit off-topic, but what about xanthan gum? It’s used in many gluten-free products and I use it for gluten-free baking to approximate the stickiness that gluten would normally bring to baked goods. According to Wikipedia “It is produced by the fermentation of glucose, sucrose, or lactose by the Xanthomonas campestris bacterium. After a fermentation period, the polysaccharide is precipitated from a growth medium with isopropyl alcohol, dried, and ground into a fine powder”.

    Considering that it’s a product of fermentation, but is still a polysaccharide, does it make it as problematic as guar gum for people with IBS/IBD? I have been struggling with IBS for a long time. I found Mark Sisson’s site a couple years ago and started the Primal Diet. When I finally realized that gluten was an issue and stopped eating gluten from its various sources it made a drastic improvement in my overall health. Sometimes, when eating gluten-free baked foods I still get similar problems as those associated with eating gluten – bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, etc. Any thoughts on the Xanthan gum? Thanks.

  107. Caitlin says

    Great article and a ridiculous amount of angry/negative people with not enough to do in their life. By the way, if the other two issues aren’t a problem for you there is one brand that sells coconut milk in a can that is BPA free. It is by Native Forest. I’ve always wondered about the Guar Gum but seem to do OK with coconut milk so I stick with my Native Forest brand or make my own. Thanks for all the great info!

  108. Angeline says

    I really appreciate this article. I seriously have no idea what I have, except that I’ve had digestive problems all my life and eliminating and reintroducing foods has led me to see a little progress trying to figure out what triggers this issues. Until recently could drink coconut milk fine until I eliminated it and re-introduced it. I didn’t know why but your article has kind of given me a clue. I has a suspicion that I may be FODMAP intolerant, so hopefully if I follow the dietary restricitions I’ll keep seeing progress. Thanks again!

  109. guest says

    Hi!

    I have a question…

    Thanks for this article… I did not know about this BPA thing….. I just saw Silk, the company that make soymilk…. now make coconut milk, its stored in these paper cartoons, is that ok?? That shouldn’t have any BPA, is that correct?

    Thanks in advance for any input.

  110. says

    So what about coconut milk that comes from a carton. Like the one from trader joe? What’s the deal with fructose? I notice on the carton it says 1g carbs. I’m doing heavy training and would fear if that 1g of fructose per serving is going to knock me out of ketosis……

  111. says

    What is paleo??? does it start with the invention of the tin can or tetra pak, or perhaps the vita-mix
    how can you call adding water to dessicated coconut fresh homemade coconut milk

    can you not buy a fresh coconut in America….grate it, squeeze it..enjoy it
    healthy Self

  112. Eleanor says

    Thank you for this article. I deduced that I have a problem with packaged coconut milk drink (in the paper carton) , and with coconut ice cream when it has CARAGEENAN in it, which greatly irritates my intestines and stomach. (I have never known such stomach pain)
    I have started to steer clear of tree gums as well. I am hoping to find a good source for fresh coconuts so I can make coconut milk myself.

  113. Josh says

    Going back to your discussion with theresa and dairy products / milk, in particular cows milk, i am against it, first of all milk contains lots of estrogens, secondly, the cows are injected with hormones to prolong production of milk, i dont know if you are aware of patrick holford but in his book one of the main reasons he doesnt reccommend cows milk is because of its calcium to magnesium ratio, which masically causes an imbalance, magnesium is proven to help prevent cancer. Yes milk has some benefits and prevents certain types of cancer but it also increases the risk for cancers like prostate and breast, your much better off getting calcium from green vegetables instead of milk, and it may be an age old saying but milk is for babies, what possesed humans to grab another animals breasts and drink the fluid it produces is beyond me! If people are desperate to drink milk it should be organic because at least those cows are not injected with hormones… This is still not ideal and dairy should be avoided alltogether. There are many products which have good and bad sides for e.g a glass of red wine, it has some protective properties but you can obtain those from other foods without the negatives, the same applies to milk, it is not made for us, it is made for a baby cow!

    • Jamie says

      Patrick Holford is a quack. Amongst others, he believes that everyone needs to take vitamins and minerals supplements for health (funny that cos he has his own supplement line), that whole grains are good for you (questionable), IgG food intolerance testing works and is legitimate and to paraphrase him the science he uses to support this claim “is to just trust him”.

      He also claims that high dose vitamin C cures H.I.V and people with H.I.V are better of taking high dose vitamin C and to ditch their anti-virol drugs. Again, no science behind this claim and the study he uses to support this claim is based on putting vitamin C on the HIV virus, in a lab, on a petri dish. But then he is selling his own supplements. Oh and scizophrenics can cure themselves by taking high dose Vitamin B3.

      This is not to have a go, it’s just this guys is a conman. My piece of advice, don’t listen to him.

      • Josh says

        Fair enough jamie Your entitiled to your own opinion but he actuallymcame out with his book the optimum nutrition bible years before the supplementmline came out… Im not saying i blindly agree with everything he says but there are alot of things that make sense, vitaminc for example is a very powerful thing and i do beliebe it should be combined with hiv medicines, also i do believe in todays modern society we do have to supplement because of the quality of food and there are so many anti-nutrients around us inc pollution bad foods and processed foods. A typical human today doesnt get what they need and even if they eat healthy the food they eat have alot less nutrients in them because of all the artificial fertilisers and chemicals that are used in todays farming. Organic is the way to go and on top of this avoiding plastics is also important, thats why this article interested me. Alot of the things ive just said are mentioned in patrick holfords book, im not trying to say he is the be all and end all of everything but there are certainly things in there that are correct and make sense! And one of them is the consumption of dairy!

  114. Jenny M. says

    Ha, don’t feed the trolls, Chris! What a bunch of weirdos, why don’t they go on Yahoo ‘health’ message boards and slam them, THOSE are the most misleading articles I’ve come across!

    Anyway, I was wondering what your take is on UHT (Ultra High Temperature) coconut cream, also it’s in something called a ‘tetrapak’ which looks like a juicebox. It is plastic lined, and does not say what type of plastic they use. Zico coconut water and the coconut cream (Kara) I had bought both use the same packaging. They don’t say to recycle it, there is only a drawing of a person throwing the container in the trash, which makes me suspicious of what type of plastic they use, since coconut is an oily food. I personally can’t stand any type of plastic, even the so-called ‘safe’ ones, I always had an aversion to them, ditto microwave ovens and cell phones.

  115. Lansing says

    For the love of god…just don’t eat the freakin coconut milk. Unless you crack the coconut and get it yourself; if it’s in a can or tetrapak it’s SH!T. Processed garbage. Get over it and eat REAL food.

  116. marit says

    Chris-
    My friend consults with you via phone counseling, and is very pleased. You came highly recommended and I have just now gotten to looking at your site. Have already sent some of your info on GERD to my parents, who are very interested in what you have to say. I liked this article. It would take more time than I have to read all the comments, but I just wanted to say thanks and keep up the great work. Looking forward to more science based nutrition info to come!
    Marit Harney, RD CPT

    • Defi says

      The title is misleading. Rather than “why coconut milk may not be your friend” it should read “why CANNED GOODS may not be your friend”. I have always bought my coconut milk in cartons, which are readily available. I fully expected to read why coconut milk is bad. What I got is what I already knew, canned goods are bad. Disappointing title, but I’m happy to know that drinking my coconut milk (from cartons) is perfectly safe.

  117. Baron says

    I stumbled on this doing other searches and thought I’d add in a bit more info.

    The thing with BPA and canned goods is that the industry has not pound a very good alternative to BPA the inner can lining that can hold up very well to thermal processing.

    I understand the contention with the use of BPA and current scientific research and their findings but the following white paper is a summery of the global studies on BPA written by the Grocery Manufacturers Association. This paper does support the claim of detrimental effect of BPA on the young/infant but not so much on adult populations.

    http://www.gmaonline.org/downloads/research-and-reports/SciPol_Bisphenol.pdf

    I know there is quite a bit out there on the subject, and I present this as no attempt to nay-say Mr. Kresser’s argument. I just present it as more info on the subject.

    Cheers

  118. says

    I have a friend that can eat fresh coconut, and it doesn’t bother him, but the processes sweet shredded coconut will cause him to turn very pale. I found this out when I made a homemade Coconut Custard Pie. What is the difference in the coconut?

  119. Anon says

    I do not understand why people cannot express differing opinions without being rude.

    Well done on the article Chris and keep doing what you are doing. At least you are trying to make a difference and be a source of information to others instead of doing nothing and criticising other’s efforts.

    Take what you can from the article, discard the bits that you do not agree with and move on. If you have a differing opinion or wish to provide correction, do so politely.

  120. jeremy says

    canned coconut milk sets my intestines on fire. however, coconut oil, coconut meat, and coconut milk in the carton are 100% fine. I wonder what the problem is.

  121. Dawn gonzales says

    I have a question about the Inner-eco product. Is this safe for people with digestive issues? I would think the probiotic aspect would be helpful, but it does have cocnut water. If not, what probiotic would you recommend? Thank you!

  122. Hilda Montano says

    Im getting tired of everything been considered bad these days. What is bad for all of us is the food industry. people have digestive problems because all the processed food they eat. I live in the Caribbean where we have been drinking coconut milk, coconut water, eating coconut meat, using coconut oil,using all of these in cooking for ages, without the population having any big health problems. It was nt until people began to use other oils, lots of fruit juice (even natural) and processed food that trouble began. So if you already have digestive or intestinal problems, there s a lot of things that are going to be bad for you. The article should had focus on these digestive troubles and include coconut in a long list of foods. To focus on coconut as something bad in general in the title is misleading. Make your own milk and oil from real dry coconuts and no problem.

  123. Amy says

    i can tolerate coconut oil in small doses, but coconut water, any brand or container it seems, nauseates me and I get a terrible headache, so intense that I can’t drive. I’ve tested this out many times, and it seems to be one of the few foods I just cannot tolerate, along with any and all rice, short or long grain, brown or white. Two foods that are supposed to be great anti-inflammatory foods, and I cannot tolerate either one.

    • PC says

      This could be because of the high potassium or electrolytes in cococnut water. I dont do too well with it either, but I do ok on coconut milk and oil.

  124. Eugene says

    Aw… I knew it. I bought home a can of fairtrade coconut-milk last week. Before I took a proteine whey shake with whole milk now and then. It got rid of my migraine attacks at night and made me sharp almost instantly. But I still got food cravings of the wrong kind (pasta and the like). So then I mixed a little cocnonut milk with the proteine shake I take. Thinking my body needs the fatty acids as well. BOOM! No more cravings. I almost forget that I didnt have dinner yet. No more hunger!

    But it did concern me that the milk came in a can. But for some reason I neglected that because I was happy I got a hold of some coconut-milk in the first place…

    And now I read this :\

  125. Michel says

    Hi , I knew the risk of cans with BPA lining and I try to avoid them as much as I can. Even my plastic containers have a sticker on them that says ” BPA Free” and are made in China. I understood that a part of the article is talking about the risk of Coconut milk that comes in BPA lining cans , what about the cans without lining ? because I just went to the kitchen and took I look to my coconut milk can in the fridge and it does not have a BPA lining on it, just metal. The brand of my coconut milk is ” THAI Kitchen” with Ingrediens: Coconut milk, water, guar gum. Thank you for answering me

  126. Elle W. says

    Chris, thanks for this article. I thought the title was straight forward and not at all misleading, the information you provided was also clear ans concise. I just made my first batch of coconut milk from the recipe you provided…so easy and nice to know that my diet gets cleaner and cleaner as I heed the advice of practitioners who rely on current evidence based data. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and helping people become healthier. Btw, I discovered you on Dave Asprey’s podcast (thought you would like to know one of the many way people find your blog). Cheers, Elle.

  127. Sharon S says

    Chris, WOW…I am amazed at all the controversy with such a simple article. Being celiac with IBS myself I appreciate having you put the info out there so simply. I am so sorry that so many people have the need to attack you. I just wanted to thank you for having a place I can send my patients to for straightforward info simply put without a lot of cultism involved. There is not such a thing as one diet. Would it be that simple.
    Thanx, Sharon.

  128. Talia says

    Great article. I am following Fodmaps due to IBS and find coconut milk a problem. Also want to avoid BPA of course and often find it on the linings of even organic tinned food. Awesome!

  129. Sarah says

    Thank you for the article. Would fermenting the coconut milk (homemade or otherwise) clear up the FODMAP issue? Thanks.

  130. Jane says

    Hi Chris
    My husband has been recently diagnosed with Crohns after losing 20kg in 6 weeks with terrible diarrhea and a bowel abscess and joint inflammation led to hospital, colonoscopies etc. We looked at his diet and cut out all sugar, most fruit all gluten and dairy. In four months he has nearly regained all his weight and can eat most things now except gluten and dairy and he still restricts fruit and sugar. He did a short, two week course of Prednisone in the beginning after diagnosis to control the arthritis and get him from rock bottom and hasn’t looked back since. He has just had another colonscopy after 3 months and although not completely healed, they are very happy with the healing that has taken place. His energy levels are still not back to normal but he can function fairly well again. My question is about coconut yoghurt. When he was very depleted he started eating lots of coconut yoghurt. Natural with live cultures. Honestly, it is too rich for me but he was eating about two cups full a day and doing really well with it. I’m sure it has helped him put on weight. Of course, this is made with coconut milk and he has IBD so should he not be eating this????
    In addition to this I was making him a lot of stocks and soups and fresh vegetable juices with just picked organic vegetables and he has been taking slippery elm and probiotics. The only time he felt any kind of relapse was after eating a small slice of sourdough bread which we though would be predigested enough but clearly not.

  131. says

    Just found the brand “Natural Value” at our local Food Coop – in BPA-free cans and no added guar gum – ingredients: coconut extract, water. Just FYI. :)

  132. Victoria Stanley says

    I believe the title of this article should be changed to “The 3 things to be concerned when consuming canned coconut milk.” I know this would have made the article received with more positive views. I am a proponent for coconut milk as it’s nutritional values and benefits are numerous, however, most people drink it from an container and not a can – especially in California where we are blessed with more options. Thank you for showing me the pro’s and con’s of a canned coconut beverage. Enjoy Life, Vic :)

  133. Lisa says

    Hi Chris,

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and all the great articles you write. Much appreciated.

    While everyone may not agree with everything written there is never a need to be rude or obnoxious.

    Merry Christmas.

  134. Terry H says

    Someone else linked to your site on a forum I frequent. Thanks for a good article and a fine, informative website. Sorry about the petulant band of gypsy trolls who can only tear down and can create nothing of their own that is useful.

  135. Scott J says

    Dear Chris,

    Thank you for the article. It was useful to learn about coconut cream, as I’m planning to experiment making homemade curries. Some of the curries contain coconut milk; and I was concerned about using canned goods. I want to give my family a variety of good quality food and great information to prepare them for adulthood and self sufficiency. Your articles are a help in that effort.

    Thanks,
    Scott

  136. Carol says

    Hello,
    I’m a first timer, recently celiac/pre diabetes and going paleo. So, refrigerated coconut milk in a carton, and Almond Breeze, cocounut and almond milk have become staples. Are these ok, being in cartons? Thank you!

  137. Brent says

    The canned milk recommended in the article from amazon (through the article in the link) is not quality coconut milk. Here is one of the reviews: I had carefully verified that what I was ordering was truly from Thailand-but it is NOT! It is from Skri Lanka, instead.
    ALSO, the product I received from Skri Lanka was in the old style yellow lined (Phenol lined?) cans-the yellow kind with the white stripe down the side that theoretically products you from the metals they use to seal the can! (And I am allergic to the chemical phenol!)

  138. says

    Thank you Chris. I have been on a hard search for why my hormones have gotten off balance (including some thyroid issues) since I’ve began my Paleo journey. I use canned coconut milk ALL the time. IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW.
    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

    • Jeanette says

      I was concerned about the saturated fat would it hurt me. I was watching Dr. Oz and they were saying it is the best thing since sliced bread. Coconut milk will help your skin hair eyes and you will never feel better. In the area that I live we can buy it by the half gallon in a carton, not a can. Is that better? I will try it for awhile and see what happens.

  139. sk says

    Hi Chris

    thank you for this article. I got constipated because of So Delicilous (and I almost never have bowel problems). it has carageenen and other stuff which might have caused the problem. thanks for the information! the organic coconut cream idea is great.

  140. ej says

    Thank you for the helpful info! I’m currently facing cancer and looking to rid my life and diet of as many toxins as possible. Your title was great, and article was informative. I’m sorry you’ve had to defend your article for years! But, I hope you are encouraged to know that it is still helping people! Its a shame there are a ton of angry responses to wade through to find the helpful ones…. It seems like people just like to be upset about things :/ Life is short people…

  141. says

    Thanks for the article. I have Hep C and it seems that ingesting coconut milk has really slowed me down these days – I just eliminated if from my diet TODAY and feel so much better.
    I was thinking that although it’s a “good” fat – maybe it’s just too much fat for this system that really doesn’t work that well anyway.
    Thanks again. :)

  142. Almas says

    I realize there have been several comments regarding coconut water, however, my question regards FERMENTED COCONUT WATER (I got the idea from the Body Ecology Diet) but am now unsure if after fermentation (using live Kefir Grains), there is fructose (and the possible problem with fructose malabsorbtion) remaining in the Coconut Water Kefir. Would you kindly give me your take on this. Thank you!

  143. Janelle says

    You can add me to the list of people who react to coconut milk with added gums, or any dairy with gums for that matter, cream cheese being the best, ice cream with guar gum the worst. But for me I doubt its the fructose because I have a history of IBS-C and am eating a lot of fruit, juice and even sodas with no intestinal reaction like gas or bloating or cramping that comes with IBS. The few times I had a bad bout of it was when I was eating a lot of sprouted grain products, so I am assuming it was the irritation from the fiber.

  144. Ika says

    Hi. I came across this page because I was searching for coconut milk’s nutrition facts. I came from coconut milk-consuming culture, we usually don’t buy canned coconut milk, in fact most moms at home are against canned food. We are homemade / home cooking culture, that is including coconut milk. Here’s what we do: buy a mature coconut fruit (not the young one that has sweet slimy flesh, that one is good for drink just like that), cut it to small pieces and grate it. Then squeeze the juice of it. There, you got the coconut milk, and then boil it and use it immediately. The reason for using it immediately is very simple: so that it doesn’t get stale. After 24 hours, it gets stale and acidic, and yuck.
    Back to what I am searching. This article talks about canned coconut milk. How about homemade coconut milk? Can you point the negative effects (which paragraph, line, etc)? Yes, I am not so good in understanding scientific journals.
    Thanks,
    Ika.
    -Rendang lover.-
    (do you know what it is? Oh you might have to Google it).

  145. says

    It’s the best time to make some plans for the future and it’s
    time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I want to suggest you few interesting things or suggestions. Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article. I want to read even more things about it!

  146. Mary says

    Just made coconut milk from 2 fresh coconuts last night… Here’s the modern Burmese woman’s method ;-)

    If you are tool savvy, use a drill to pierce and drain your coconut. Then use a band saw to slice it in half. If you’ve got primitive tools like me, use a heavy butcher knife to bust open the weakest indentation and drain the coconut. Then proceed to take the same heavy knife and coconut outdoors onto a surface that doesn’t offer resistance (think stone walkway, not deck), wear garden gloves and score a circle around the coconut until you can pull the halves apart…. Then the hard part begins… Using a salad cutting knife score wedges into the flesh and proceed to “pop” the meat from the shell. Yes you’ll get brown bits on the back but that will all be blended later anyway. 2 hours later… In portions blend 2:1 ratio water:coconut and let the blend steep like coffee for 20 minutes… yes each batch, this takes a while… and strain through a cheesecloth over a china cap into a large soup pot.

    Really a great thing to do with family as it hastens the process. But then again we only occasionally concoct our delicious traditional dishes like white fish and yellow split pea curry made in homemade fresh coconut milk, key spices are turmeric and cumin… maybe twice a month. So no harm done. Hope someone tries this method, having a vitamix certainly helps too lol. And yes I did read this article which is why I am suggesting the freshest recipe free from additives.

  147. j arnao says

    Turtle Mountain LLC claims that their coconuts used in their Coconut Milk are organic and nonGMO
    Their Coconut Milk is available in 6.5 FL OZ Tetra Brik containers which avoids BPA issues from plastic containers. I personally did like the CHOCOLATE version, given to me by a cousin today.
    Apparently it is available at Wegmans 2 Centerton Rd Mt Laurel, NJ 08054 (856) 439-7300
    http://www.sodeliciousdairyfree.com/press-release/press-release-06-28-11
    http://sodeliciousdairyfree.com/products/coconut-milk-beverages/original

  148. says

    Thank you for your work and for this clearly outlined article complete with recommendations. I have almost no gut flora but the only symptom I have is a facial rash, I’m assuming was because of the donuts I ate. I haven’t had a test for fructose malabsorption and don’t have the symptoms you mentioned above. I’m already eliminating grains, beans, and refined sugars, might the FODMAP diet be helpful for healing my gut? It seems pretty extreme.

    • Kayla says

      And having a facial rash doesn’t scare you? If you can see inflammation on your skin…it’s worse on the inside. I cringe when I read something like “I have no gut flora…the donuts I just ate” Asking for health problems? Pretty soon it won’t be a matter of “should I go gluten free” but “I have to go gluten free”
      The world’s food supply is so contaminated and genetically engineered the human body does not recognize it as food anymore.
      The day is coming when we will not be able to eat wheat, corn, soy and dairy. ALL of us.

      • says

        Kayla, of course I feel the same way. Didn’t you read the last sentence I wrote. I’m eliminating grains, beans, and refined sugars.

  149. Lai-Lai says

    You don’t seed to buy Arroy-D online if you live in coastal areas or areas with high Asian populations. Washington (state) for example has a high Thai, Korean, Japanese, & Chinese populations depending on the town. Iwojimaya & H-Mart are obscenely popular & carry lots of imported brands of coconut milk. While you’re browsing the isle for Arroy-D, keep an eye out for tasty fruits like rambutan, longan, laichi, toddy palm, & coconut jell. If you’re looking for cold bottled coconut milk or juice, keep an eye out for aloe juice.

  150. Rosalee says

    I live in a small town in Canada and one of the regular grocery store chains carries Arroy-D coconut milk, so for others who live in small towns…you may not have to buy it online either since my small town isn’t all that multicultural. I have to say, I found this article helpful. I was shocked to see all the comments in which people didn’t seem to understand the article or complained about the title. Titles are supposed to be short, sweet and catchy. I personally did not feel misled at all. This article was the first one I read after googling “is the small amount of guar gum found in coconut milk harmful?” and it was perfect for answering my question. I thought maybe the paelo article I read recommending people avoid canned coconut milk because of the guar gum might have been written by someone who was more hard core than I. I hadn’t even considered issues such as BPA contamination. So thanks for writing this article.

  151. Allie says

    Hi Chris, very good article. I love all the information you provide on your site. Is it possible for my body to dislike coconut oil but be ok with coconut butter, coconut milk and coconut flour? Is there something different about the oil? Not being able to cook with coconut oil, ghee or butter. I may have to try using duck fat!

    Thank you,
    Allie

  152. Mary says

    Chris,

    I find your whole philosophy about Paleo guidelines to be GREAT. I just started approaching this and am doing lots of reading. Although it’s about Coconut milk, I have a question: As a person with microvascular heart disease, and the genetic factor, LP(a), which carries a higher risk of MI and stroke, I have been cautioned to have a low fat profile. I am managed by an interventional cardiologist to a low lipids level, and that management can’t really do much about the LP(a).

    Operating on the assumption that inflammation (gut) – dysbiosis is a source trigger (a life of IBS and now understood food intolerances), I am certainly willing to follow a Paleo template, but with a 70% veg, 15% meat/fish/poultry – and some fat, I am uneasy about the saturated fat of coconut milk, yet as I can’t have dairy (intolerance), I am needing SOMETHING that feels like a treat in the dairy-like arena.

    In people with LP(a), and IBS, does pursuing coconut milk makes sense, or am I better off just with olive oil, etc. and accept it? Thank you if you choose to take on this question.

    • Mary says

      Maybe my percentages are off, as I find I need protein more than that – and fat, too. But my understanding is that LP(a) “grabs” the fat and in women, it aggregates to the interior of the vessel wall. Understanding that lectins and phytates are inflammatory, this is why I’m steering toward Paleo. But as I go thru this process, I am starting with the premise of eliminating tenderness in the gut and maybe eventually diminishing vasoconstriction in small vessels. Along the way, it would be nice to lose weight, too, so there’s that. Coconut raises my alarm bells. Any thoughts? Thank you!

    • Michael Koren says

      Mary, if you’re doing low lipids as a result of your cardiologist then you must listen to this radio show! It likely will turn your lipid world inside out, and start understand why people are heading towards Paleo diet! The radio show is geared towards heart disease and high cholesterol, and interviews the authors of The Great Cholesterol Myth, one of whom is a cardiologist and surgeon. But in that show is an extensive discussion about lipids including olive oil, coconut and such that is very worthwhile. Very very well worth listening to, it may cause you to ask your cardiologist some very deep probing questions. In case my link doesn’t quite lead you in the right direction, it is show #895. http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2013/03/09/895-the-great-cholesterol-myth/

  153. Mollie says

    Is there any known association between coconut (milk or otherwise) and hormonal alterations (like the estrogenic effect of soy products)? Thanks!

  154. Mollie says

    Hi Chris,
    I submitted a question earlier about whether coconut milk (itself) had any effect on hormones…. I had, at that time, missed the portion of these comments where someone called Tony discussed the estrogenic effects of BPA. I should have specified that I am drinking (Koko brand, available in UK) coconut dairy-free milk substitute in tetra-pak type cartons. I am not aware of whether tetra-paks contain any BPA (have put out enquiries but, as yet, unanswered). This is not a pure coconut milk, but a milk substitute which contains filtered water, coconut milk 8.4%, grape juice concentrate, calcium phosphate, emulsifier: Sucrose ester, sea salt, colour: natural carotene, Vitamin D2, Vitamin B12. I’ve been using it more than a year and haven’t noticed any negative effect. I recently found and tried, however, a coconut milk yogurt [containing Coconut milk (97.9%), Tapioca Starch, Xylitol, Selected probiotic cultures], which is delicious but seems to leave me feeling “hormonal” (same way I felt years ago after switching from dairy to soy milk — cringe). Do you have any prior experience that suggests a link between coconut products and estrogen effect? Thank you!

  155. Julie says

    I can’t speak for others but I briefly read thru some of these comments and my first instinct to the article was complete frustration, as I sense in others. I must say in my mission to find the PERFECT diet that may put my Multiple Sclerosis in remission- my head is spinning with the information available. I have an ailment and want to cure it (to the best of my ability). In doing so I am slowly eliminating things from my diet and replacing it with something that is a healthy alternative. Every day it differs because the information is so contradicting. Let’s see -Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Paleo, Raw, The Starch Solution (book), The China Study (Book), I could go on and on. About a week ago I thru my hands up and told my bestie (in tears) the only thing I can flippin’ eat is organic fruits and vegetables. What the hell!!! Just tonight I tried a lovely coconut milk and was elated that I finally found a suitable replacement for my chocolate milk that I can not longer enjoy. All this happiness came quickly down when I read this article. You have to realize that it’s not about the article’s title. People are so sick of all these dangers that we have to read about ALL THE TIME, that some of us have become incredible irritable. Coconut milk may not mean much to you but to me it is a GODSEND. I finally had a bit of peace that I could eat (all these ways) and enjoy it to. I have no choice but to change my ways. My diet greatly affects how much brain damage that I incur. Some people get to enjoy going to bed every day or feeling really confident in their food choices. You have a peace about you, Right? Well I want that confident peace too, and all these articles are simply draining. No offense to the author. I’m just kind of over the whole thing! As you can see, there is an emotionally attachment to that coconut milk.

    • says

      I think Chris’s whole point in this article is to discuss issues people may have with coconut milk and suggest alternatives for brands to use to avoid things like BPA and guar gum. He never said there is anything inherently wrong with coconut milk. There’s no reason you can’t drink it, just try to find the kind sold in cartons if you can.

  156. Mary says

    Julie,

    Listen to this podcast or read the transcript – there are many reference to MS. They are discussing the GAPS diet. http://www.gaps.me – when you are not having grains, nuts, seeds and nightshades, you are eliminating lectins. Very important. An individual’s tolerance to each and every food can greatly vary, but the goal in this diet is to heal and seal the gut lining, so proper nutrients can be absorbed. There is a strict initial protocol, but after the heal and seal is accomplished, you can integrate many foods – as long as they each don’t cause gut or physiological reaction. It’s a test one at a time protocol. Listen to this podcast, though – and read the text. it’s packed with very valuable information.

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/05/12/dr-campbell-m cbride-on-gaps.aspx (the audio)
    http://mercola.fileburst.com/PDF/ExpertInterviewTranscripts/DrNatashaCampbe ll042412.pdf (the text)

  157. Mary says

    This article is a classic example of trying to sell certain product by spreading FEAR over the competing products, in this case, the rest of the brands not mentioned by his article.

    He is clearly endorsing Native Forest and Let’s Do Organic, which are owned by the same company. He threw in Arroy-D as a decoy because he knew most US consumers won’t be able to access Arroy-D unless they go to ethnic markets or shop online.

    He stated on the article that he doesn’t read Thai, yet he recommended Arroy-D?

    This article is a joke. Sponsored articles need to be declared as sponsored otherwise it is just an insult to intelligence.

  158. Sonya says

    Hi,
    My one year old son has a true milk protein allergy. I now give him organic coconut milk and organic soy milk. I’ve read your articles on both soy and coconut. I’m wondering which is the lesser of the two evils and if the coconut milk is organic, wouldn’t that be safer?

    Thank you so much and I’ve enjoyed reading all your articles!

    • cassandra says

      I’m just gonna go ahead and answer this. Coconut milk is a better choice as it’s unlikely to come from GM sources.
      If it were my child however I’d give him almond milk.

      • Sonya says

        Thanks. Yes almond milk would be good but he has an allergy to almonds….poor kid. I do buy the organic soy and coconut milk (in cartons) but I think coconut probably better too. I was always leaning to soy because he needs the extra calories.

        Thank you for the comment!! Off to the organic market I go.

  159. says

    I think the Omega 3 intake has been distorted over the years. In hot temperature countries near the Equator we found hot temperature trees such as Palm Tree and Coconut Tree. So the people who live in hot temperature countries rely on such fruits of these tree to live by.

    If I would to travel further North or South to COLD weathers, then the Omega 3 will help me in the winters and also Sqaulene Oil (which can be obtained from Olive Oil) to balance out my diet when I m in winter months. Hence, the studies of rich-Omega 3-plants such as Flax, Chia, etc are located beyond Tropic of Cancer (20 degree North) and Capricorn (20 degree South). None of us can find Palm Tree and Coconut Tree at the North Pole or Arctic countries.

    Hence, the ancient world people somehow eat the food found in their own lands (or countries of residence). The next 10 to 20 years, nutritionists or whoever will need to closely study Foods found according the their land of residence (Plants found in their resident land).

    I submit my paper.

  160. says

    About the Thai brand ArroyD – I do read Thai but every can I’ve ever seen lists ingredients in both Thai and English.

    What I found with ALL the Thai brands of coconut milk is that you cannot go by brand. The same brand can carry with or without the preservatives. You have to read the label every time. There are a quite a few Thai brands of coconut milk but only a few that do not contain the junk.

    I’ve called some of the Thai companies (yes, I speak Thai, as well, or used to. Getting pretty rusty these days) and they’ve claimed to not have anything in the can but water and coconut milk.

    Do I believe that? I lived over a decade there. So. I feel I can trust them as much as I can the manufacturers here. Which isn’t too much.

    I do use canned coconut milk from time to time but prefer to use fresh whenever possible. And I fondly recall the days of buying it in the open market from the vendors that made it on the spot then poured it into a plastic bag, and rubber-banded it closed for me :)

    Coconut has been a wonderful food for me, but there’s no one food-fits-all, and we each must find what works best for our own body. And, hopefully, respect others’ choices.

  161. Janis says

    Hi Chris,

    I am grateful for the information you provided as it has helped me tremendously. I first learned of FODMAPs through your site and have come to realize that coconut products, especially coconut flour cause the most harm. I’m saddened to hear that people have been so harsh about your article. I appreciate the help you’ve passed on to me and many others.

  162. says

    I use coconut milk in tons of recipes (http://'www.yummycoconut.com) and I find it hard to get something that is just coconut milk when buying it in can form. Which I don’t like to do anyways because of BPA.

    It can get pretty annoying when I go to buy some for a recipe and have to put down every can/carton that I pick up.

    Trader Joe’s has a light coconut milk in a can that is just coconut milk and water, unfortunately it is both light and canned. I used to be able to get large boxes of Arroy-D coconut cream that was only the cream but my store actually discontinued the item. :(

    • ozgur says

      CoconutLover,

      My understanding the light version of Trader Joe-s which has coconut milk and water, is BPA free. Since it also has water added to it, it is ready for latte or smoothies once from the get go. Yes you are paying for the water also, but the fact is it is alot a cheaper, so fat content/price I don’t think it is any worse than the full fat coconut milk cans out there. My issue with saying BPA free is the following. If there is no BPA, what else did they substitute that with which years from now, we will find out can be causing issues.
      I agree with the logic of staying away from can when you can, but if not this might be a better product compared to the cartoon So delicious brands (where bunch of stuff is added to it).

      regards,

  163. Andrea says

    I found your article fascinating and very helpful. I have UC and feel like I react poorly to coconut so now I know why. My question for you is this: if I eliminate baking with coconut flour and already avoid almond flour because I don’t tolerate nuts well, is there another flour alternative in your opinion? Thanks so much for all you do!

  164. Oliver says

    Arroy-D Coconut Milk has only two ingredients. Water and 50% Coconut Milk. There is Coconut milk you can buy from the dollar store ***NEVER BUY C.MILK FROM THE DOLLAR STORE*** and it has a wack ton of other weird ingredients. But Arroy-D in a tetra pack is what I buy and its amazing! :)

    Thanks!
    Great Article.

  165. Lisa says

    Ok so if we are trying to buy cans that are BPA free, what are they lining the cans with? I contacted Sprouts (grocery store) to see if their cans had BPA in them. I got the most interesting answer. They do not contain BPA, but they are now lined with polyester and vinyl… can’t we get lead poisoning from vinyl? So now we have to worry about lead leaching into our food.
    Here’s the answer I received from Sprouts:

    “Good afternoon Lisa, We have moved away from an Epoxy coating within our containers to a polyester coating and a vinyl coating. The polyester and vinyl replacements have been thoroughly tested and are known, safe, long-lasting and reliable. We do not use the words Non-BPA as this is apparently a misnomer. Our suggested term is non-Epoxy, which means that BPA will not be a part of the initial can, but as you know BPA is now present in our world and will take years to disappear from water, soil and other places before we can say BPA free. Thank you for your inquiry and please feel free to contact us with any other questions or comments you may have. Have a great weekend.

    Stephanie
    Sprouts Farmers Market
    Customer Relations Specialist”

  166. parf says

    Useful article that reminds me everyone is different. I generally follow FODMAPS and find that it helps, especially during periods when my gut is acting up. That said, broccoli which is a FODMAPS no no always agrees with me, as does coconut milk. Although it is in cans, Trader Joe’s sells a Coconut Cream that doesn’t have carragenean (sp?) or guar gum in it. I use it regularly and it makes my very sensitive gut happy.

  167. says

    I have had fructose malabsorption since (at least) 2006 and while I have my safe and problematic foods pretty down pat, coconut milk and cream are still a puzzle to me.

    I can eat fresh and desiccated coconut flesh (studies done by Monash University in Australia report that it is low FODMAP) but my reactions to coconut milk/cream do not seem to fit with current reports that it is in fact low FODMAP (this is in contrast to “pre-2010″ evidence, which used to list coconut milk/cream as high FODMAP) apparently there is a minuscule amount of sorbitol present (<0.1g/100g) but I can eat cherries and blackberries without issue so sorbitol wouldn't (*shouldn't*) be it.

    I came across your coconut milk post because I am trying to research why I end up doubled over within an hour of consuming full cream coconut milk but the light milk does not cause any noticeable GI symptoms. Since moving to the USA from Australia, I have found that my local GP had not even heard of fructose malabsorption until I became her patient, so I need to find my information elsewhere.

    You mention that BPA can cause "harm" in adults, as well as neurobehavioural issues in children – could this "harm" potentially be mimicking my FM symptoms? But then, the light coconut cream would probably be coming in cans with BPA as well, so that doesn't fully fit.

    I understand that this is a pretty big ask, considering you don't know my PHx or the like but if you could shed any light as to other components of coconut milk that could potentially be causing stomach aches and GI upset then I would be very grateful. I might just buy a fresh coconut and see what happens with the cream… wish me luck :P

    Cheers, Nat.

  168. debs says

    i’m rather shocked by the response – by some – to this article, and would like to speak out in support of mr. kresser’s article…

    all the title proposes is ’3 reasons why coconut milk MAY not be your friend,’ and it does give 3 issues that are possible …if those of you upset by this article don’t feel that the issues provided are a big deal, why is That such a big deal?

    also, the bpa issue may not be isolated to cans exclusively …some products available in cartons (not just coconut milk) also contain bpa in their lining …it’s just good to be aware, and that way you can try to avoid it …that’s all. warmest wishes to all :) debs

  169. Gene Pavlovsky says

    I live in Thailand and the coconut milk and cream available here are all sold in UHT packed cartons. No BPA there, I guess?
    Aroy-D (Aroy means tasty and Dee means good) and Chao Koh are the two common brands you can find in any supermarket. Chao Koh also makes coconut cream which I think is just a thicker version of the milk, that’s what I usually buy. The only listed ingredient is 100% coconut cream. I’ve heard from some people that labeling is not strict in Thailand, so maybe they’re cheating, but if you think like that, you can’t trust anything you buy at all.

    Also available (but harder to find) is extra virgin coconut oil in glass bottles, I love cooking meat with it.



  170. Tex says

    My Grandmother always made coconut cake for Christmas and a few other holidays. She always bought just coconuts and did it old school. I never did get sick. I sometimes think that these health articles can be a little extreme. Just walking outside and breathing is bad for your health. You can never protect yourself from all health risks, so why make your life so miserable.

    • PC says

      This site is for ill people though. It’s helpful for us to know if something is contributing to our illness or not. I’m glad there are people like Chris willing to question these things, if anything the debates it sparks provide lots of useful information.

  171. Ophiolog says

    Fructose malabsorption is determined by a single oral dose of pure fructose at 25 g. While virtually no one consumes pure fructose alone, never mind 25 grams at a time, it has since been estimated that fructose malabsorption affects less than 10% of healthy individuals. See: Frieling T, et al. Fructose malabsorption: how much fructose can a healthy subject tolerate? Digestion. 2011;84:269-72.

  172. Katrina says

    I’d say I’m one of those who cannot tolerate coconut in any form. I live in Indonesia and coconut product is used highly in Indonesian culinary. Even when I get fresh coconut picked from the tree, drink its water and eat its meat, I get stomach cramps every. single. time.
    Also virgin coconut oil makes me nauseous, diarrhea, shaky, etc.
    It’s rather odd because when I was younger, I was totally fine with coconut. This problem only started about 2-3 years ago.

    • Jamie says

      I used to be the same but I started taking taking Betaine HCL and that cleared it all up. Could be due to low stomach acid. Try taking some Betaine HCL with your meals and see if that works.

      • man with gut says

        a little late, but did B HCL really cure your coconut intolerance?

        i have that and a bunch of other ones for healthy fats that limit my diet to where its a mother effer

  173. Miranda says

    You can buy non canned coconut milk now. Silk and SoDelicious both make different kinds of coconut milk that are sold in the refrigerated section of common grocery stores. Problem solved!

    • Michael says

      Silk and So Delicious are coconut beverages, not milk. The article is not about coconut beverages, but about “coconut milk,” which is a traditional culinary product made from dried coconut meat and water. It is added to curries and other sauces to make them thick and creamy. It is not drunk. Most traditional “coconut milk” in the US is sold in cans, hence Chris’s concerns about BPA, and some brands contains guar gum, hence Chris’s concern about that. Again, this article is not directed at coconut-based beverages like like So Delicious and Silk. They have different ingredients and different issue to consider. Most of the coconut-based beverages contain sweeteners of various kinds as well. Most traditional “coconut milk” does not.

  174. Deborah says

    I have been buying Trader Joe’s Coconut Milk unsweeterned, soy free, dairy free, gluten free, vegan, no artificial colors or flavors and no preservatives. Not in cans, in a container. A natural source of energy providing 3g Medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) per serving. A form of fatty acid mor readily metabolized than long chain fatty acids and that helps to support metabolism. The ingredients: Filteredwater, coconut crew. Triclcium Phosphate, carrageenan, gellangum, seasalt, natural flavors, vitamin a plmitate, ergocalciferol, (Vitamin D12) How good is this brand for me?

    • Diana VP says

      Well, first off, the brand you describe has carrageenan in it. Chris covered the negative effects of carrageenan. I would not use it for that reason alone. “Natural Flavors” can mean anything. The word natural means nothing anymore. “Natural Flavors” can include MSG. In my opinion, what you describe is pretty far from natural. I would ditch it. On the flip side, you can buy Trader Joe’s light coconut milk in the can (14 oz for 99 cents USD) contains only coconut and water, without chemical preservatives or added thickening agents. However, the can does not say BPA-Free, so the can probably is lined with BPA.
      Natural Value brand does carry a canned coconut milk in BPA-Free cans, with no added agents. You can order it from amazon.

  175. Myndi says

    In response to the question in the article as to whether there are other ingredients in Aroy-D coconut milk, I have a can processed Feb 1, 2013, and the ingredients are Coconut extract 60%, and water. No fillers or other questionable ingredients.

  176. mcbeauty says

    For anyone in the U.K., here you can get coconut in a carton at a good price, the price shown is for 12 1 litre cartons which is the same as 30 400ml cans.

  177. Al says

    Hello Mr Kresser, and everyone.
    I have followed with great interest and sometimes amusement the many comments on this topic since this article was published. I had been in search of the cause of my digestive issues for at least 10 years without being able to pin it down. Until now I think.
    I want to express a finding or rather a big newly found likely culprit of my issues and likely most of you out there. GMO.
    The effects reported by the few studies done suggest that symptoms of consuming GM corn, wheat, soy, oats, etc. is indeed constant bloating, general digestive inflammation which leads to irregular flow through the digestive system. The whole lot of digestive disturbance leads to lack of quality sleep, that’s my cross.
    I would be very interested to hear what you all think of this crazy but simple suspicion, everyone should consider this when evaluating coconut and its results. As long as you are consuming wheat, soy, corn, etc you are constantly irritating your system. A gallon of coconut milk a day is not going to matter.
    Just sayin…

    I started with consuming coconut products, mostly home made because I grew up with coconuts and I am a world cook. Results continued to be hit and miss, but when it fell right it felt great.. Then I started looking into GM staples and found that it most mayor grain commodities hence in everything everyone eats in North America including Canada.
    I am now attempting to remove all GMOs from my diet while continuing to enjoy the many benefits of coconut.

  178. barb says

    Excellent article. I had just been researching coconut milks online and in my local stores, and came to the same conclusion as the author. It’s almost impossible to find a brand without guar gum or carrageenan or BPA, or at least one that is available to Canada. I may have to make my own. I really appreciate you summarizing. I was unsure as to whether guar gum was safe or not, but instinctively knew to stay away from it. Thanks for confirming!

  179. Claire says

    I think the main problem with coconut oil/milk is that it raises not just HDL but LDL. Has anyone else noticed the LDL’s increasing on coconuts? I know saturated fat is good for us and has finally been vindicated and reached cult status, but seriously, we are all eating way too much of the stuff!

  180. Michael Koren says

    @Claire – are you aware of the difference between LDL-A and LDL-B? Then light fluffy LDL vs the dense one? We all NEED and MUST HAVE LDL. It depends on which one you have. Have you or your doctor made that distinction? You can’t condemn LDL any more than you can condemn all people of a race just because some of them are criminal or in jail. We tend to be over-simplistic to our detriment.

    • Claire says

      Yes Michael, I am aware of these differences, but still my LDL is too high and my doctor wants to put me on statins. As I don’t consume much PUFA or sugar, it has to be the coconut products. It is also disappointing, the my HDL hasn’t gone up much given how much coconuts I eat.

      My test results -
      LDL 153
      HDL 46
      VLDL 35
      TOTAL Cholesterol 234!!
      my LDL pattern density is A (large buoyant) which is one positive.

      Even by Dr Mercola’s liberal recommendations ( see article) I’m over his 200 level. If you read the last page of his article he mentions coconut oil/products being a problem.

      http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/09/10/why-you-should-avoid-red-rice-yeast.aspx

      Michael, I think your response to me was inappropriate, if you read my post again, I never once “condemned” coconuts nor saturated fat. So to draw comparisons to race/criminals is a little extreme, and I’m also very aware that we need saturated fat to make steroid hormones and other vital modulators.

  181. Jo says

    Geesh… some people really need to get a life. All this hoopla over a little article on coconut milk??? It was a good article with some pertinent information for SOME people. If you don’t like it, hit the back button and move on!

  182. Ben says

    You’re not doing your readers a service with this article, because you’re pulling them in with a misleading statement. The main issue is about canned foods (if you’d simply change your title to be “3 reasons why canned coconut milk may not be your friend”, the issue would be resolved, but maybe it’s an deliberate attempt by you to stir up a bit of controversy to get more traffic?).
    And yes, I read the whole article, I realize the last part is not about cans, but is there a single food where you can’t find some subgroup of people who won’t have adverse reactions?
    This is the first time I came to your website, and instead of having me sign up for your newsletter and potentially become a regular reader (like I do with many health related sites), I know have stored the name Chris Kresser away as “misleading”…

  183. jana says

    hello,
    After reading the above info on coconut milk i have just one question. You say at the very end that there is no widely available coconut milk that is organic, bpa free and guar gum free but, in the article you referenced native forest as being both bpa free and guar gum free and i know for a fact they make organic coconut milk. Did you forget these things? Please explain.
    Thanks, jana

    • Caitlin says

      The implication of what he said is that this particular brand is not widely available. That is also why he offered a link to the amazon store in case it’s not in your local grocery store. He’s not saying you can’t find it in SOME grocery stores. Just that not a wide range of areas will carry it. Personally, I’ve never seen it in stores. Does this answer your question?

  184. Roger Lee says

    Thank you for this interesting article about coconut milk. I live in Thailand, and next to me here on the shelf are several dozen 250 ml paper cartons of “Aroy-D” coconut milk. The label says that it is 100% coconut milk. By the way, Aroy-D, just like “Oishi”, means delicious in English. My concern is whether the inside of these cartons is treated with Bisphenol-A. Nothing on the label says anything about any other ingredients than coconut milk.

  185. ken says

    The title grabbed my attention, so I read the article. Makes some good points, has links to other information, and presents alternatives. I did not feel that the title was out of line with the content nor did I feel that the article was misleading. I drink coconut milk out of a carton but am trying to cut back on my intake of fructose. I may continue drinking coconut milk or may not and will be doing my own research to determine whether I do but Chris’ article has brought it to my attention. What I do with that information is now up to me.

  186. Janet says

    Thankyou for an excellent article. I have suffered from IBS like symptoms since I was 16 (I am now 56) and was dissapointed that although a Paleo diet was very beneficial to my health in may ways, that I still struggled with some intestinal pain. The FODMAP intolerance and in particular, my considerable consumption of coconut milk, and brassicas appears to be the heart of the issue. I have backed off on these foods and for the first time, I am pain free.

    Janet

  187. Jayne says

    Also disappointed, I buy drinking coconuts, and have no problem with the FODMAPS so most of this is irrelevant. It is much cheaper to buy actual coconuts than the cartons or cans, so why not suggest this?

  188. cbr says

    I realize this is an old article, but I still have several cans of coconut milk with guar gum (and I have noticed some trouble off and on), so I was curious if there was a way to get rid of it. Specifically, is guar gum only water soluble? If so, would allowing the cream to separate and only using that (while throwing away the water) eliminate some of the guar gum from the coconut milk? Or does it interact with the fat portion of the cream as well? Just wondering if anyone knows.

  189. Caitlin says

    I was hoping to read some useful comments adding to the article, but I was disappointed by all the badly written ones, just bashing it. Totally didn’t add to the conversation. I wonder, is everyone this moody because they have digestive health issues? I know when I am eating my trigger foods I get moody as hell. This must be the case for the majority of these people here too.

    I liked this article! I only have tried aroy d coconut milk (as far as cans go) because its the only one at the grocery store that lists only the single ingredient of what it claims to be. I am wary about things from cans though, so came looking for any reason why it might be bad to use this on a regular basis. If anyone has any added pros or cons about aroy d canned coconut milk I’d like to know!

  190. Joan says

    Wish I’d read this before I bought 2 cartons and 1 can of coconut milk today. Money down the drain since I now won’t drink it!

  191. Pete in Tampa says

    Dear Chris,

    I read the article and I think I understand it. I’m not sure if I have IBS (I’ll read up on that soon); I think I fall into the healthy person category. I’ve read about 20% of the comments and now I’m just going to post my own question.

    I live in Florida and I just got onto this kick of making my own coconut milk. I use mature brown coconuts. I Split them and save the water. I’ve curved a butter knife that’s pretty good and extracting the meat out of the shells in two big halves. Put the meat through a grading disk on a food processor. Then switch the the normal blade and I blend it with the reserved coconut water. Then, like you said, into a nut milk bag, twist and squeeze. I put the milk in a jar and use it in a protein shake the next day.

    As for the pressings, I only press them once and I dry them in the oven and make macaroons with them. Just whip egg whites into a meringue and fold in the flakes. In this way you control how much sugar you add, fiber, the last of the oil and your money worth on the coconut, which here they are less than $2ea.

    I think I understood from the article that my own homemade coconut milk would be free of the three chemicals you mentioned, so am I correct to assume I’m safe from those? Do you have any concerns regarding the mature nuts I buy from my local corner vegetable market? If I think I am a healthy person now and I start making and drinking my own coconut milk everyday will I transgress into a person with IBS over time? Could I develop an allergic reaction to the proteins, fat, and sugars or some other chemical due to the chronic exposure. I really like the stuff and it makes me feel full of energy, it fun to make, so feel inclined to drink about a nut’s worth a day.

    I realize your a busy guy, so I’ll appreciate your response in advance of if or whenever you get around to it, know what I mean?

    Sincerely,
    Pete in Tampa

  192. says

    Native Forest coconut milk is good stuff. Having switched from starbucks and their half and half dairy product to an organic dark roast with Native Forest Coconut Milk I can say, yep much better, much healthier and less mucous forming. Very good stuff, can’t relate at all to IBS or other such scenarios but for common folks without any health issues looking to make better choices, coconut milk as a coffee creamer is a good one. No doubt in my mind!

  193. Nicole says

    I am very thankful for this article, as I have been experiencing digestive issues for years now. I found this article after drinking a smoothie with coconut milk by Native Forest (and it did contain some guar gum). Almost as soon as the milk hit my stomach, I felt irritation, bloated and uneasy in my stomach. I quickly researched coconut milk benefits and found this article, which explains possible reasons for my stomach upset. I also learned that apples and black beans can irritate IBS. Given my lunch consisted of quinoa and black bean burger and an apple was mixed into my coconut milk smoothie, I will be sure to try coconut milk once again, but without the other possible irritants. I do recognize there is a possibility of digestive issues when trying out a new food, so I am not writing off coconut milk just yet!

  194. Karen says

    Wow. I don’t know this guy and this was my first visit to his blog. I’m kind of stunned by the reaction of some readers. This was an informational article that would be of benefit to folks who were wondering why they react to coconut milk. He never said “Don’t drink it”. He never said, “Coconut milk is the root of evil”. He clearly and pretty concisely pointed out three possible reasons why someone might react to it. Petty helpful.

    In reading it I did not pick up any bias against coconut milk in general. Just good information. Sad that people can’t just read something for what it is. Move forward if it doesn’t apply to you and if it does, use the information to make better choices, whether those are to change what kind your purchase, make your own, or worst case, give it up. As for the So Delicious fans. What can be said except you are not even drinking/defending coconut milk. It’s a derivative processed food product. I prefer to avoid processed where possible but if you have no problems and generally enjoy good health, go for it.

    In any event, bashing someone who puts out good information is not helpful for others who come along. A third of the population is a significant percentage, which means the information shared would make a difference to a lot of folks.

  195. Steve George says

    Market of Choice here in Corvallis sells Natural Value organic coconut milk in a can. No BPA in the lining and only two ingredients: organic coconut extract and water. I buy the whole fat but hey also have a lite version.

  196. Fred says

    Very good article indeed.
    I can’t believe how illiterate some people are and they are even proud to spit it out against others who actually DO something to help.
    Thumbs up for the author.
    Thanks and keep it up :)

  197. says

    Hi Chris!

    Thanks for this article. I have a few questions though. My first one is that I have heard when companies claim to be BPA free, it turns out they are using a very similar chemical (such as BPS) which still causes the same issues BPA does. So if Native forest isn’t using BPA, don’t they HAVE to be using something else? Any idea what they line their cans with?

    My second question is have you ever heard of powdered coconut milk and do you think its better than buying canned coconut milk? I bought a bag and I am not sure if I like it, but if its got less crap in it than the canned stuff I am willing to stick with it. The brand I got is wilderness family naturals.

    Thanks!!

  198. Louisa Oneill says

    I made the coconut milk with the flakes, it was really nice and creamy. However when I put the rest in the fridge, the cream floated to the top and became rock hard. When I tried to make a smoothee with it the cream stayed in fatty clumps. I also tried to make ice cream and the same thing happened. Do I add something to make it blend. I am gluten,dairy, rice and xanthan gum free.
    Thanks Louisa.

  199. dm says

    i think your article was very informative regarding cans…however who drinks canned coconut milk these days? There is pure coconut water, hello? directly from the coconut! you don’t have to make it, you just buy a coconut and crack it open. REAL FOOD.

  200. Emilie says

    Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back
    to your blog? My blog is in the exact same area of interest as yours
    and my visitors would genuinely benefit from a lot of the information you provide here.

    Please let me know if this okay with you. Thanks a lot!

  201. D-bags all around says

    Wow, this confirms my suspicion that most people generally suck in life. The article provided excellent information. I didn’t feel misled by the title at all.

    I was experiencing slight discomfort from drinking coconut milk and after reading the article, I’m now aware that it might be fructose malabsorption. Thanks, Chris for all that you do.

  202. Rhonda says

    Great article, it gives me the information I need to make an informed decision and the possible ramifications of that decision, without histrionics.
    I think people are missing the point, use the information; coconut nut oil is not ‘the enemy’ but the effects and benefits will vary with the individual. The one thing, however, that will be an issue for everyone is the BPA.
    Thanks again Chris.

  203. Summer Abdelghani says

    like some commentators mentioned above, patients with IBS/IBD often react badly to high fiber foods. Your patients are likely reacting to the fiber in coconut milk, not the fructose

  204. Allie says

    Great article! I now understand why I don’t tolerate coconut too well. I learned a lot from the article. Thanks, Chris.

  205. Cindy says

    I live in Thailand, read Thai, buy Aroi Di coconut milk all the time. The carton states 100% coconut milk as the ingredient, both in Thai and English.

  206. Linda Thomas says

    Native Forrest has guar gum in it…it’s listed on the back of the can plain as day…INGREDIENTS: organic coconut milk (organic coconut, water, organic guar gum)…

  207. Jane says

    So glad to see info on FM. I was diagnosed a couple of years ago. I scoured the internet for as much info as possible but found a lot of conflicting info and too many personal opinions. I no longer eat fruit but veggies are full of fructose. I am both fructose and glucose intolerant. How do I balance the two in order to give fructose a ride out?

  208. says

    Since I consume the Kroger-brand coconut milk (King Soopers in Colorado), I just checked the BPA content of Kroger’s canned goods. In 2011 the company announced that its cans would be BPA free. Search for: “Kroger Switches to BPA-Free Cans for Private Label” and “Kroger bans BPA from store brands and receipts” at Forbes.com.

  209. Leo G Younger says

    What about the other bisphenols? Some manufacturers may have ceased using BPA, but there are many other BPs, as you can see in Wikipedia. It’s easy to say no BPA, but …. That white phenol lining in cans and in the linings of jar lids is a mystery, no?

  210. Olivia Reed says

    One reason people may be reacting so violently against the title of this article is because many of us have rejected dairy altogether, and coconut milk is one of the very few cruelty-free alternatives to cow or goat milk. This is one of the major reasons why I use it. Additionally, I was diagnosed with diverticulosis two years ago. Changing to a vegan diet has healed me. Coconut milk doesn’t give me the digestive problems I had with animal milk.

    Perhaps it isn’t just coconut, but other foods taken in the same diet (such as highly-processed and fried foods, dairy, cane sugar, gluten, meat, etc.) that contribute to IBS. I eat organic, non-GMO food, almost no canned products (choose glass when possible) and plenty of vegetables daily. Coconut milk and cold-pressed sesame oil are the only fats I add to any recipe. I no longer use sugar.

    Like others here, I read this article because your title is negative and provocative. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with coconut milk. Guar gum and BPH-lined cans are legitimate concerns, however. Please consider retitling your article so that it reflects more on the packaging and production of coconut milk, rather than on the milk alone, which, as you point out, can be made organically at home. Thank you.

  211. ken says

    The ‘Blue Monke’y brand of Coconut water contains niether Guar Gum nor BPA

    “Packaging Blue Monkey in a sealed, recyclable can assists the product in having a longer shelf life (2 yr+). As no preservatives are added to Blue Monkey, it is sealed to preserve freshness and exposure to any possible contaminants- 100% natural coconut water, just like drinking from a coconut! Blue Monkey cans do not contain BPA – and are easily recycled. Cans also allow the beverage to cool quickly.”

  212. Kim says

    Just wanted to point out that you have referred to coconut cream mistakenly, which could be confusing for people. Creamed coconut (you refer to Let’s Do Organic brand) and coconut cream are two different things, with different applications. Aroy D coconut cream is similar to coconut milk, and is great as a dairy cream alternative in coffee. Creamed coconut is more granular and is better for using in recipes, smoothies, etc, but kind of gritty in coffee.

  213. lisa says

    Thank you for this information! I am in awe of how many food allergies I have and fructose is the one of the worst. This is the best article I have read on the topic to date. I now have more leads on how to change my diet. I am truly grateful!

  214. Karen says

    Isn’t it time to update this article? The original article itself is not dated – a real problem that should be addressed, as developments in all spheres are at a hectic pace and information quickly becomes Dated. It is now widely recognised that BPAs are harmful and it has been eliminated from most products.
    Well done for making the dangers know long before it was recognised as a dangerous ingredient in plastic manufacturing.
    I am a big fan of coconut products and was attracted to this article by the dire warning. So I agree with others who complained that the Subject appears to attack Coconut Milk in isolation, when there are many other products that fall within the scope of article – Guar gum and BPH-lined cans. I’m in total agreement with Olivia Reed’s comments.

  215. Jenny says

    Funny how so many said they read the whole article and then proving they didn’t pay attention…

    Anyways. I make my own coconut milk and react to it. I gave up the packaged coconut milk long time ago thinking it was the extra ingredients in it that caused my reaction, but still react.

  216. Angelo Elevado says

    To be honest, I’ve never actually heard of “canned coconut milk” ’til I looked it up in the Internet. Here in the Philippines, coconut milk (aka “gata”) is usually something you make yourself rather than something you buy in a can.

    However, I was already well aware that coconut milk is not for everyone way before I heard of its canned counterpart.

  217. Tim Gilles says

    Nothing kills more people than stress. All stress is ultimately related to the fear of death. Seems to me: This page is filled with folks who are inadvertantly killing themselves with dietary related stress in a hilarious attempt to “live longer”. Egged on by the Chicken Little efforts of the individuals who’s “heathy living” agenda is in fact driven by the acquisition of gold under the guise of altruism. This is accomplished through establishing of a market of guided consumption based on the creation and exploitation of FEAR. The fear of death, the fear of the pain of dying, the fear of any range of maladies, real or imagined… Or better yet, one’s purposefully invented and perpetuated. Anything that leads the fearful mind repeatedly back to those entirely avoidable entropic cogent paths which destroy the quality of of “now”, by diverting the mind to consistent address of the specter of human mortality stalked by the persistence of TIME. The irony is beautiful. Have at it. I’ll be out by the pool, smoking a cigar, sipping some cold coconut milk… Outliving all of you. If not in YEARS. In QUALITY OF LIFE. Without even trying. This post will be taken down. Surely. But if even ONE of you poor misguided sots sees it before it is… I’ll see you over there. There will be laughter and good cheer. Do THAT enough and you WILL live BETTER… Which will ALWAYS trump living LONGER. Sadly, it’s not a mindset you can create in a “approved” brand organic blender. Vitamix indeed. Ship of thieves and fools. One that should be towed out to sea and sunk with naval gunfire. Cheers!

    • Shawn says

      Standing ovation!!!!!! I don’t understand why people let themselves get all worked up, especially when attacking someone who is helping everyone.

  218. Janet says

    We buy Golden Star Coconut Milk which comes in cans that are not lined with BPA. The 2 ingredients are coconut milk and water. We find it at our Super-Walmart. It is not organic.

  219. Darshana says

    I tried Kara coconut milk for the first time yesterday. I added it to two teas and this morning woke up feeling very tired. after 30 mins I started to get stomach cramps like I sometimes have done in the past when my body has eaten something toxic like a non washed non organic apple. after the stomach cramps I stayed in the bathroom for 30 mins.

    Now I am drinking nettle tea with peppermint to calm my stomach and bowels….

    this prompted me to go over what I ate yesterday and checked allergy to coconut milk and i found your article.

    For my body, It looks like coconut milk creates an allergic reaction in the gut, so I will not have Kara coconut milk and will try to make my own from your recipe. Thank you for the very informative article.

  220. says

    I liked what I could read, BUT, the little rectangle that runs down the right side of my Google Chrome browser is what helps me navigate your site vertically. I checked other pages and that rectangle is much larger on many of those pages & I’m not sure that size matters. However, on The Huffington Post I found the rectangle to be the same size & no problems with navigation. The REAL problem? In trying to navigate vertically it’s perhaps like power steering in a car & I can’t easily move down the page. I want to go down far enough to read the end of say, the guar gum section (or any other section) & I can’t do it because it navigates too far down the page. I think what you have to say is valuable, but I’m not interested in wasting my time this way in the future (including not being able to finish the article because of the huge “skips”). Good luck!

  221. Christina Leneus says

    First off, what I would simply like to say is, this an intriguing report , i try in best to stay on top for great health which are my most important matters in my life, whatever goes into the body better goes out the right way and leaves nothing mysterious behind that could do no harm to any person that doesn’t want to live or deal with for the rest of our lifetime. So thank you for explaining and exposing the truth, that helps greatly, its very important we must know what’s in the making in these manufactured food products, for those who truly care about their body and believes to deserve the best on great health.
    Now here’s the thing, I’d never tried coconut milk in a can, after read your report about it I don’t think I ever will, I’m pritty sensitive about what I put in my body, coconut milk in ice cream or container form that I always like. But, I’m not worried about what I put on my body, I found out coconut milk is good as an condistioner to put in hair and some people showed some demonstration on YouTube.com and I see that mostly they’re using the can coconut milk they pick up from the supermarket. So my question is any can coconut milk, when applied on the hair, is as bad as consuming it to what you report about and if so should I buy the coconut milk that you preferred? Just want to be on the safe side :-).

  222. Jayyme Wolk says

    You r leaving me no options for food what does one eat with glutton and lactose intolerance. I am 98 pounds and can’t eat anything

  223. Eliza says

    I agree with this article. I have milk sensitivities so I drink almond milk but wanted to give coconut milk a try because it was popping up everywhere in grocery stores. I already use cold pressed coconut oil on my skin (which works wonders) and thought coconut milk would be a good “healthy” addition to my diet. Turns out, it made my stomach upset; I couldn’t figure out why until I saw the filler “guar gum” and after looking it up saw that it might be the culprit ( a sensitivity to it) Suffice it to say, I stopped buying and drinking it and stuck to my almond milk (which has NO such filler). Thanks for alerting me to this!

  224. Susan Chertkof says

    What is your view as to whether coconut milk and coconut oil are high in histamines? I have chronic urticaria and eat a low histamine diet. There seems to be some debate as to where coconut falls with respect to histamine. Would be interested in your views.

  225. Daniela says

    I have been making a protein shake everyday (Monday-Friday for lunch for the last month with so delicious coconut milk. I’ve been feeling very bloated and have been waking up with swollen hands and feet every morning. I went to my holistic doctor today and he explained all the ingredients in coconut milk are proven to spike estrogen- which makes you retain water- especially during Ovulation! Great article! I shared on Facebook.

  226. Kieran says

    Thank you for sharing this information. I’m just a bit confused by an apparent contradiction.
    Your article contains the following three statements:

    1. “The good news, however, is that there are at least two brands of coconut milk that don’t have BPA in them. One is Native Forest, which you can purchase on Amazon if it’s not available at your local store.”

    2. “If guar gum does give you digestive trouble, Native Forest has just released a new version of its product that doesn’t contain it”

    3. “Native Forest is organic”

    And then, you mention:

    “As of the time of this writing there is no widely available commercial brand of coconut milk that is organic and free of BPA and guar gum.”

    Based on the previous three statements, Native forest is a widely available commercial brand of coconut milk that is organic and free of BPA and guar gum. Am I missing something here?

    Thanks

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