Canned Coconut Milk: Can This Be Paleo?

Possibly, but not usually.

With the exception of a very few brands, which are often hard to come by, most canned coconut milk contain the stabilizer, guar gum, which is derived from a bean and is a potent source of anti nutrients.  For some, it also causes GI distress.  According to wikipedia, “it has almost eight times the water-thickening potency of cornstarch – only a very small quantity is needed for producing sufficient viscosity. Thus, it can be used in various multiphase formulations: as an emulsifier because it helps to prevent oil droplets from coalescing, and/or as a stabilizer because it helps to prevent solid particles from settling.

Here’s the thing:  if you use fresh coconut water and ‘meat’ (or flesh), you don’t need to ‘thicken’ anything; you can simply vary the consistency by how much coconut water you mix with its flesh or even add more water if you want something less thick.

Not in a tropical place where you can go out and pick your own coconuts?

Not to worry; there are alternatives to the canned stuff.  

Two options are to rehydrate natural shredded coconut with water (that’s natural- as in ‘not that stuff in the baking aisle which is coated in sugar and who knows what else!) or to buy condensed coconut milk.   Two brands I’ve come across for each are Bob’s Red Mill and Let’s Do Organic, respectively.

Just one more example of how important it is to read the fine print!