Buying coconut milk to get the nutritional benefits? Read those labels carefully! I went in to buy some coconut milk the other day and was amazed to find several strange ingredients in a few of the brands. Simple Truth contained ingredients that, as far as I am concerned, had no business being in the carton. Coconut milk does spoil quickly and some companies add all sorts of things in the milk to keep it fresher.
Simple Truth is a Kroeger product and while there is nothing wrong with this company nor the ingredients per se, it’s something to be aware of while looking for coconut milk. The ingredients listed for their coconut milk are:
Coconut milk, (filtered water, coconut cream, xanthan gum, carrageenan, guar gum), evaporated cane syrup, calcium carbonate, carrageenan, natural flavor, gellan gum, vitamin A palmitate, ergocalciferol (vitamin D2), cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12). An added ingredient: coconut. I would hope so.
These ingredients are taken from the Simple Truth website. Silk produces a milk with the same ingredients, although Silk adds Yam Flour to their mixture too.
The ingredient, carrageenan is questionable. There is word on the net that the stabilizer/emulsifier is unsafe and is made from red seaweed. Sounds harmless, right? The Cornucopia Institute released a video, along with a PDF Report, discussing this ingredient. The report and video outlines upsetting practices involving the USDA and the National Organic Standards Board. The NOSA is the organization that over sees our organic foods. Consumers should read these notes and watch this video.
Carrageenan comes in two forms. Food safe and approved and the non-approved or non-food safe. Many published reports in the scientific community have released data showing that the non food safe carrageenan was inflammatory and proved to be a carcinogenic in the testing on lab animals. The non food safe carrageenan was listed as a possible human carcinogen in the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in a 1983 report.
Carrageenan is also known to cause inflammation in colons that actually appear like ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, in the mice it was tested on. The non food safe carrageenan was proven unsafe and is not used, however, the food grade carrageenan has a trail of mistrust since the 1970s. There are studies that the food grade carrageenan has also shown evidence in lab animals of colon inflammation and cancer. Some testing proved that there were traces of the non food grade carrageenan in it while testing for the food safe carrageenan in some foods. Samples showed amounts of up to 25% of the non food grade in what was supposed to be only the food grade.
While the product is listed in both categories of organic and non organic, but both were approved for use in 1995 and again in 2008.
With this controversial product in a host of top brand foods, please check your labels. Even Starbucks uses the carrageenan product, along with Blue Diamond, Carnation, Horizon, Pacific, Silk, So Delicious, Tempt and Zico. This is just a simple list of products in the coconut milk line. Watch for this ingredient in other items as well. It is used in many!
With this in mind, it is good to know that you can get back to basics by making your own coconut milk. Coconut milk comes from, well, you guessed it, coconut. The easy recipe will have you enjoying great tasting coconut milk that is free of chemicals and items that we can’t pronounce, much less want to eat.
Recipe for making your own coconut milk:
4 cups of water
1 ½ to 2 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut
Heat the water, but do not boil. Place the coconut in a blender or Vitamix and add the hot water. If the whole amount of water won’t fit in one batch, the water can be added in a second batch. Blend on high for a few minutes or until it is thick and creamy. Place a cheesecloth lined colander inside a bowl and pour the mixture into the colander. Squeeze and twist the cheesecloth until the coconut has been drained well.
If there is more water to be used, repeat the process by putting the coconut back into the blender. Add the remaining water and repeat until the coconut is drained.
Store this mixture in the refrigerator. For the best flavor and texture, it should be consumed within about four days. There are no preservatives or fillers in this recipe, making it so the cream and water separate. If this occurs, simply shake or stir before drinking or using to remix the two.