Why You Should Never Buy Light Canned Coconut Milk

Since Americans spend about $33 billion every year on weight loss items, it's no surprise that diet foods are a booming business (via Livestrong). Take a trip to most major U.S. grocery stores, and you'll find light, reduced-fat, and low-fat versions of many of your favorite products. But are these diet products actually better for you? According to Healthline, a variety of them don't have much nutritional content, since they're highly processed to make them low-fat. For example, low-fat breakfast cereals and yogurt typically contain tons of added sugar.

Coconut milk on its own is considered a diet food in some circles — or at the very least, an alternative to higher-fat and lactose-filled beverages like heavy cream and whole milk. It can be used to make desserts like this old-fashioned vanilla milkshake, or healthy dinner recipes like this hearty red pepper soup. It's thick, creamy, and sweet, but also has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties, according to BBC Good Food – making it a rich, but healthier, ingredient in recipes.

However, there's no denying that coconut milk still has plenty of fat, causing some people to turn to light versions offered at their grocery stores (via WebMD). But although these may seem like a better option, there's a good reason to stay away from purchasing light coconut milk.

Light coconut milk is watered down, full-fat coconut milk

According to Real Simple, there's simply no point in buying light coconut milk. While "light" sounds like it equates to "healthy," light coconut milk is the same thing as regular — just with less milk and added water. It doesn't have as much flavor as regular coconut milk, Times Colonist notes, since it's just the watered-down version. In addition, most recipes are written using regular coconut milk, so they'll probably taste a bit blander than intended if you use light.

In fact, there's an added bonus to using regular coconut milk that you just won't get with the light stuff. According to Go Dairy Free, full-fat cans contain coconut cream, which separates from the milk and rises to the top of the can. This cream can be poured off the top of the can and used to bring even more thickness and creaminess to recipes like coconut ice cream, creamy Tuscan chicken, and coconut pudding (via Insanely Good Recipes). With light coconut milk, you'll be missing out on this rich, indulgent component.

If you're determined to use light coconut milk, Real Simple recommends getting more bang for your buck and making it yourself. All you need to do, according to Go Dairy Free, is mix one part full-fat coconut milk with two parts water. You'll have your own light coconut milk in no time, and your wallet will thank you.