Is coconut milk in smoothies good for you?

Quick Answers

Coconut milk in smoothies can be a nutritious addition to your diet. Here are some quick answers about the health effects of coconut milk in smoothies:

  • Coconut milk adds healthy fats and nutrients like magnesium, iron, and potassium to smoothies.
  • The medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut milk may promote weight loss and provide an energy boost.
  • However, coconut milk is high in calories and saturated fat, so portions should be monitored.
  • Look for light coconut milk or mix regular coconut milk with water if you want to reduce the calorie content.
  • Coconut milk smoothies can fit into a balanced diet, but should not completely replace fruits and vegetables.

Nutritional Profile of Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is made from the flesh of mature coconuts. The coconut meat is grated and soaked in hot water to extract the flavorful coconut milk. The nutrition facts for a cup (240ml) of canned, full fat coconut milk are:

  • Calories: 552
  • Fat: 57g
  • Saturated fat: 53g
  • Carbohydrates: 13g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Protein: 5g

As you can see, coconut milk is very high in fat and calories. The majority of the fat is saturated fat. Coconut milk also provides a good amount of fiber.

Some of the vitamins and minerals in one serving of coconut milk include:

  • Calcium: 57mg
  • Potassium: 631mg
  • Magnesium: 89mg
  • Phosphorus: 240mg
  • Iron: 11% of the RDI
  • Copper: 43% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 110% of the RDI
  • Selenium: 21% of the RDI

Overall, the nutritional profile of coconut milk is mixed. It provides important vitamins and minerals, as well as healthy fats, but is also high in calories and saturated fat.

Benefits of Coconut Milk in Smoothies

Using coconut milk in smoothies can provide several benefits:

1. Healthy Fats

Coconut milk contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are a type of beneficial saturated fat. MCTs are metabolized differently than other fats and are readily used by the body for energy. They may also have appetite suppressing effects.

2. Nutrient Absorption

The fat content in coconut milk can help increase absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K. Adding coconut milk to smoothies with greens like spinach and kale helps boost absorption of their fat-soluble antioxidants.

3. Weight Loss

Coconut milk is rich in MCTs, which have been associated with increased energy expenditure and fat burning. One study found people consuming MCT oil burned more calories than those consuming olive and canola oils.

The medium chain triglycerides in coconut milk may also decrease appetite to support weight loss. Replacing other higher calorie ingredients with coconut milk may help lower the overall calorie content of smoothies.

4. Source of Electrolytes

Coconut water and milk are good sources of electrolyte minerals like potassium, magnesium, sodium and phosphorous. This makes coconut milk a helpful ingredient for rehydration.

5. Easy to Digest

The fat composition of coconut milk makes it easier to digest than other dairy-based milks. People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or lactose intolerance may be able to tolerate this non-dairy milk.

6. Antimicrobial Properties

Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which can have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Consuming coconut milk may benefit immune function and gut health.

Downsides of Coconut Milk in Smoothies

While coconut milk can be fit into a healthy diet, there are some downsides to be aware of:

1. High in Calories and Fat

With 552 calories and 57 grams of fat in one cup, coconut milk packs a lot of calories. As a comparison, 2% dairy milk has just 122 calories and 5 grams fat per cup.

The high amount of saturated fat may also be concerning for people at risk of heart disease when consumed in excess. Monitor portion sizes when adding coconut milk to smoothies.

2. Low in Micronutrients

While coconut milk contains some minerals like magnesium and potassium, it does not provide much vitamin content. Fruits and vegetables should still make up the bulk of smoothie ingredients for micronutrients.

3. Contains Fiber and Sugar

Canned coconut milk provides 5 grams of fiber per cup, which can help slow digestion but may lead to gas and bloating if over-consumed. It also contains 7 grams of natural sugars.

4. Possible Irritant for Some

Coconut contains compounds called fructans, which are FODMAPs that can cause digestive issues in some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Start with small amounts of coconut milk to assess tolerance.

5. Allergies

Coconut allergies are rare, but coconut should be avoided by those with an allergy.

Light vs. Regular Coconut Milk

There are a few options when it comes to coconut milk for smoothies:

Regular (full fat)

  • 552 calories and 57g fat per cup
  • Thickest, creamiest texture
  • Works best for blending into thicker smoothies

Light coconut milk

  • 231 calories and 18g fat per cup
  • Thinner, more watery consistency
  • Allows you to cut calories and fat

Coconut milk beverages

  • 46-80 calories and 2-4g fat per cup
  • Very thin, milk-like consistency
  • Lowest in calories but does not provide as much coconut flavor

Light coconut milk or coconut milk beverages allow you to reap some of the benefits of coconut milk while limiting calories, fat, and thickness. But for the creamiest, richest texture, regular coconut milk works best.

How to Make a Healthy Coconut Milk Smoothie

Here are some tips for making a nutritious coconut milk smoothie:

1. Use light coconut milk or dilute regular coconut milk

To keep calories in check, use light coconut milk or dilute regular coconut milk with water 1:1 to cut the calorie load. You’ll still get great coconut flavor.

2. Load up on fruits and veggies

Use coconut milk to complement fruits and vegetables, not replace them entirely. Fill your smoothie with plenty of greens, berries, bananas, mango, pineapple, oats or chia seeds. This boosts nutrition.

3. Include protein

Adding protein powders, Greek yogurt, or nut butters helps keep you full. Good options include pea, whey, hemp or brown rice proteins.

4. Try lower sugar fruits

Limit high sugar fruits like oranges or pineapple. Opt for berries or tart green apples to keep sugar content low.

5. Use healthy fats

In addition to coconut milk, you can include small amounts of nut butters, avocado, chia or flax seeds for healthy fats.

6. Ice and water

Add ice to make your smoothie cold and creamy. Also add small splashes of water to reach your desired consistency without packing in too many extra ingredients.

7. Portion control

Pay attention to serving sizes, as it’s easy to gulp down a large, high calorie smoothie very quickly. Aim for 12-16 ounces.

8. Sparing sweeteners

Avoid adding sugars, honey, or syrups which ramp up calories. Only use sparingly to slightly sweeten if needed.

9. Mind the toppings

Keep smoothies simple, avoiding high calorie toppings like granola, chocolate chips, or coconut flakes as these increase calories.

Healthy Coconut Milk Smoothie Recipes

Here are 3 balanced, nutrient-packed smoothie recipes using coconut milk:

1. Green Coconut Protein Smoothie


  • 1 cup coconut milk beverage
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup green apple, diced
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup ice

Nutrition (16 oz): 330 calories, 11g fat, 33g carbs, 24g protein

2. Coconut Berry Smoothie


  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 banana
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup ice

Nutrition (16 oz): 258 calories, 9g fat, 39g carbs, 7g protein

3. Blueberry Coconut Smoothie


  • 1/4 cup regular coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 banana
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup ice

Nutrition (16 oz): 372 calories, 21g fat, 39g carbs, 11g protein


Coconut milk can be a tasty, nutritious addition to smoothies. It provides healthy fats, nutrients, and possible health benefits related to digestion, weight management, and immunity. However, the high calorie and saturated fat content of coconut milk means portions should be monitored closely. Diluting regular coconut milk or opting for light varieties can help decrease calories and fat.

To make a well-balanced coconut milk smoothie, focus on including plenty of fruits, veggies, and proteins. Avoid added sugars or excessive toppings. When used properly, coconut milk can be a beneficial part of an overall healthy diet.

Leave a Comment