We know all about the difference between coconut milk and cream but lately we've been hearing lots of people talk about coconut water. What are they, exactly, and is there a difference between them? And does it matter whether you buy it in a bottle, carton, can, or shell?

Coconut Water

Coconut water is actually coconut juice, the liquid sloshing around in the interior of the young fatty nut. A delicious drink, coconut water is sweet, clear and full of electrolytes, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients. Young coconuts are harvested at about five to seven months of age. These tender, still green coconuts produce the finest coconut water.

Coconut water is recognized as a potent treatment for diarrhea, as the water's electrolytes and minerals work to quickly re-hydrate patients. If you're prone to bladder or kidney infections, coconut water can flush out these organs, detoxifying and purifying the entire urinary system. Coconut water contains the same lauric acid as mother's milk, providing a powerful boost to your immune system. Lauric acid is known to be antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. Coconut water is the lowest in fat of the other coconut products; it is also low in carbs and sugars, so drink freely of coconut water to enhance your health.

We generally consider the juice straight from a young coconut to be the tastiest, while other brands or packaging are just a matter of preference. Some people find the canned varieties to be too metallic tasting. Another thing to look out for is added sweeteners, preservatives, or flavorings. Also keep in mind that brands targeted at the US market tend to be more expensive than those found in Southeast Asian and Caribbean markets.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is produced by mixing coconut water and fresh coconut meat, which is then pressed to expel the milk. Rich in vitamins and minerals, coconut milk also contains medium chain fatty acids, the fatty acid type most easily recognized and used by your body. Coconut milk has saturated fat, but this fat is in the form your body loves and needs. Coconut milk is widely used in cooking by many cultures, especially Caribbean and Southeast Asian, where the milk provides scrumptious flavor as well as healthy nutrients. Use coconut milk in smoothies, rice dishes, soups and curries. It also makes a facial that soothes and softens your skin. People who cannot drink cow's milk can easily switch to the more flavorful and healthy coconut milk.

One cup of coconut milk contains protein, good fats, fiber, vitamins B, C and E and a is a rich source of potassium, potassium, selenium, calcium and iron. Consuming the milk or the liquid endosperm of the coconut palm fruit will help you maintain blood sugar levels, give you softer, smoother skin, help build strong bones, prevent heart disease, ease any joint inflammation you might have and boost your immune system. Delicious coconut milk delivers a myriad of health benefits while tasting like a dream come true.

Coconut nutrition facts

One cup of natural coconut water (unpackaged) contains 45 calories, a very small amount of fat, no cholesterol, and most importantly, for rehydration purposes:

9 grams of carbohydrate
6 grams of sugar
15 percent of the daily value (DV) for magnesium
17 percent DV potassium (more than a banana in a single serving)
10 percent DV sodium
6 percent DV calcium (also an electrolyte like magnesium, potassium and sodium)

Natural coconut water also contains other important minerals and vitamins, such as 10 percent DV of vitamin C. A big health bonus for natural coconut water: it contains 3 grams of dietary fiber (over 10 percent DV).