Coconut Cream: Are There Health Benefits?

Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on December 08, 2022
3 min read

Coconut cream is a thicker form of coconut milk that has an important place in Thai, Indian, Indonesian, and Polynesian cuisines. 

Coconut milk and coconut cream are two of the many edible products made from the fruit of the Cocos nucifera plant. In general, coconut milk and cream are made by squeezing the meat of ripe brown coconuts and saving the liquid that emerges. This thick liquid is different from coconut water, which comes from unripe, green coconuts and doesn’t involve any squeezing.

The difference between coconut cream and coconut milk: coconut cream has less water and more coconut fat than coconut milk. This makes coconut cream a creamy, luxurious-tasting alternative to dairy heavy cream in many recipes.

People generally use coconut milk and coconut cream as ingredients in cooking. They can be used to thicken and sweeten savory sauces or add creaminess and coconut flavor to desserts.

Though both coconut milk and coconut cream may be used as ingredients in beverages, such as the famous piña colada, they are not made for people to drink straight. A few non-dairy milk companies sell a drinkable beverage they call "coconut milk." This drink is essentially coconut cream mixed into water.

A one-tablespoon serving of coconut cream contains:

  • Calories: 68
  • Protein: Less than 1 gram
  • Fat: 3 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 10 grams
  • Fiber: Less than 1 gram
  • Sugar: 10 grams

Coconut cream is a great source of:

Coconut cream is also an excellent source of potassium. Studies show that potassium is critical for maintaining the health of every cell in your body. Getting enough potassium daily is connected to a reduced risk of high blood pressure, salt sensitivity, fatigue, and muscle cramps.

Coconut cream may be tasty, and scientists are still studying potential health benefits of many forms of coconut. But so far, coconut cream doesn’t have many proven health benefits you can count on. 

May Help If You Need to Gain Weight

Coconut cream is very rich in calories, with 1,060  calories in a cup. However, you’d also be getting 46 grams of saturated fat in that cup, so you may still want to limit it. Your doctor can give you advice about the healthiest ways to gain weight if you need to.   


Because coconut cream is such a dense source of calories and saturated fat, it’s not something most people are going to be able to drink a lot of in a healthy diet.

May Cause Weight Gain

Coconut cream is a high-calorie food, with 1,060 calories per cup. Using coconut cream as an alternative to dairy creams may lead to weight gain, especially if you are using sweetened coconut cream. Pay attention to recommended serving sizes – and adjust your calorie budget elsewhere -- if you choose to add coconut cream to your diet. 

High in Saturated Fats

In unsweetened coconut cream, most of the calories come from saturated fats. One cup of canned coconut cream packs 46 grams of saturated fat, which is more than twice what you should get in an entire day.

Saturated fats will raise your level of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and thus raise your risk of heart disease and stroke. 

May Trigger Allergies

Coconut allergies are rarer than other forms of nut allergies, but they still exist. If you have another type of nut allergy, coconut cream may not be a good choice for you.

Even if you are not allergic to coconuts, many types of coconut milk are processed in facilities that also handle tree nuts and soy products, so there’s a risk for potential cross-contamination. 

Coconut cream is one of the thickest and most high-calorie forms of coconut milk available. If you enjoy coconut flavor but want to eat fewer calories, consider using light coconut milk or coconut water instead. You should also look for unsweetened coconut cream if calories concern you. 

If you’re looking for other options for cream, there are a wide range of plant-based creamers including oat milk creamer, almond creamer, and soy creamer. And of course, there is also dairy-based cream.