Q: "I recently purchased some coconut-flavoured lite evaporated milk to use instead of lite coconut cream. One has a higher fat content and the other a higher sugar content, so which one is the healthiest?"
A: Dietitian Amanda Johnson responds:
"Coconut-flavoured lite evaporated milk is around 98.5% fat-free. It does contain some sugar but the amount present is relatively low (around 2 tsp per 100mls). It can be used as a substitute for coconut cream in recipes such as creamy pasta dishes, soups and curries and just by simply replacing the coconut cream with the lite evaporated milk you'll find that the kilojoule and fat content of your meal is much lower.
Lite coconut cream is a little higher in kilojoules and fat than the coconut-flavoured lite evaporated milk, but contains hardly any sugar. It is a much better option than the standard coconut cream and can also be used as a substitute in a variety of recipes. If you are using lite coconut cream just remember it does still contain some fat, so avoid using excessive amounts if you're watching your fat intake.
Both of these options are a great alternative to coconut cream, which is high in fat (particularly saturated fat) and kilojoules.
Whether you choose the coconut-flavoured lite evaporated milk or the lite coconut cream is really a matter of personal preference and it may well depend on what works best in the particular recipe you are preparing. It is the overall balance of the diet that is important, and by choosing products that are lower in sugar and fat, you'll certainly be on the right track."