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“When you’re using these coconut products as substitutes for dairy products, you’re not going to get the same nutritional profile,” especially in the amounts of protein and calcium, says Giancoli.
“Some of these coconut milks only have 10 percent of the daily value for calcium, whereas a glass of dairy milk is going to have 30 percent,” Giancoli says. “Choose a coconut milk or yogurt or whatever it is that has an excellent source of calcium — that is 20 percent or more.”
And keep tabs on added sugars, checking the ingredient labels on products like creamers and frozen desserts. “The frozen desserts, they have a lot of calories per half-cup. Treat them as you would regular ice cream,” she says. “It’s not a license to go overboard on your frozen desserts.”
As for fat realities, when you eat coconut oil or a dairy-based butter or olive oil, “you’re basically getting the same amount of fat. And that means you’re getting a lot of calories,” she says. On the saturated fats in coconut itself and in coconut oil, “the jury’s really still out on whether it has any kind of definite health benefit,” she says.
“There are always foods that develop this health halo around them. And people tend to think that because it does have that health halo, that there are no calories or not any particular consequence from consuming loads and loads of that food,” Giancoli says. “We’re always looking for that one food that is going to let us eat to our heart’s content and not have any consequences. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist.”