Coconut flour is growing in popularity as more people discover the many health benefits of coconut flour nutrition, in addition to its many uses as a delicious, gluten-free, and healthy alternative to other flours.
What do you need to know about coconut flour nutrition? Coconut flour is high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats and is free from wheat and other grains. It is also low in sugar, digestible carbohydrates and calories, and has a low score on the glycemic index.
This makes coconut flour a favorite among paleo dieters, gluten free eaters, including those with Celiac Disease or a gluten sensitivity, those with digestive problems like leaky gut syndrome, anyone with a nut allergy, those with diabetes, vegetarians, and just about everyone else in between.
Coconut flour is made from ground and dried coconut meat. Once the outer green husk of a coconut is removed, what remains inside is the rich, inner white lining which is the coconut meat.
Coconut flour is not actually “flour” in the way we normally think of it; it contains zero grains, zero nuts, and is made completely of pure coconut. Flour can be made from many things including nuts, seeds, dried vegetables, and of course coconut meat.
Coconut meat is the white, firm part of the coconut that you would find if you cracked open the fresh coconut and scraped out the insides, but this needs to have its milk separated in order to produce the dry “flour”’. Once the meat is strained and separated from the coconut’s milk, it is baked at a low temperature to dry it out and create a powdery flour made entirely of coconut.
Coconut Flour Nutrition Benefits
There are numerous reasons to love all that coconut flour nutrition has to offer, especially the fact that it’s high in nutrients, low in calories, and versatile in many recipes. It’s also very uncommon for coconut flour to cause any digestive or autoimmune responses like other grain flours can.
The health benefits of using coconut flour in recipes are far reaching and impressive:
1. Aids in Metabolism
Some of the many health benefits of coconut flour nutrition include its high levels of healthy saturated fats in the form of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA). These are used by the body easily for energy and help to support a healthy metabolism, balanced blood sugar levels, and more.
2. High in Fiber
Coconut meat itself supplies an impressive 61% dietary fiber! And because fiber essentially cannot be absorbed by the body, some of the calories and carbohydrates found in coconut flour aren’t even absorbed and used, but rather they move right through the digestive tract helping to take toxins and waste along with them.
3. Helps Maintain a Healthy Blood Sugar Level
Coconut flour is a low glycemic food and does not spike blood sugar levels. In fact studies show that consuming products that contain coconut flour can help to lower the overall glycemic impact of the food and to support stable blood sugar levels. This means that coconut flour nutrition has health benefits for people with diabetes and those who are working towards reaching a healthy weight too.
4. Helps Digestive Health
Coconut flour also helps with healthy digestion, has a high nutrient density, and can aid in heart health, too. Studies have shown that coconut flour has the ability to help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and serum triglycerides in people who have raised cholesterol levels. Coconut flour has this positive effect because of its high supply of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, plus its healthy MUFA fat content.
Coconut Flour Nutrition Facts
A ¼ cup serving (or about 28 g.) of coconut flour has roughly:
- 120 calories
- 4 grams of fat
- 4 grams protein
- 10 grams of fiber
- 16 grams carbohydrates
- 2 grams of sugar
A little bit of coconut flour goes a long way, and in many recipes, you can get away with using only 2 tablespoons of coconut flour, but still getting great results. Just 2 tablespoons of coconut flour delivers 5 grams of fiber, only 8 grams of carbs, and has just 60 calories. This makes it ideal for those following a lower calorie weight loss plan, watching carbohydrate intake, and looking to increase satiating fiber in their diet.
Coconut Flour vs. Almond Flour
Both coconut flour and almond flour are loved for their versatility in recipes, high amounts of nutrients, filling fats and gluten free qualities. While both are great choices for baking with or using in numerous ways, coconut flour offers more fiber and less calories overall than almond flour does.
Coconut flour is also a great alternative for anyone who has nut allergies and cannot consume almonds. However at the same time, nuts are nutrient-dense foods and almond flour is another great choice for its vitamin and mineral content, very low carb count, protein, fiber, and healthy fat.
If we do a side-by-side comparison of a ¼ cup serving of coconut flour nutrition versus almond flour nutrition, this is what we find:
Coconut flour: 120 calories, 4 grams fat, 4 grams protein, 16 grams carbs, and 10 grams fiber.
Almond flour: 160 calories, 14 grams fat, 6 grams protein, 6 grams carbohydrates, and 3 grams of fiber.
All things considered, one of these flours is basically not “better” than the other. Almond flour is extremely *healthy, but has a bit more calories and fat, while having fewer carbs and grams of fiber. The higher calorie and fat content isn’t a bad thing, and this makes it a great choice for those on a low-carb, ketogenic, or higher fat diet. So you can see, it really comes down to your specific needs and preferences.
There is one more benefit to coconut flour nutrition that you may not have thought of. Because coconuts contain MUFA fatty acids, they are low in omega-6 fats. Although almonds are extremely healthy, nuts in general add omega-6 fats to your diet, and chances are you already consume plenty of these types of omega-6 fatty acids.
The ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s in your diet is very important, but most people consume much more omega-6s in their diet than omega-3s due to eating processed foods, refined oils, and low amounts of wild caught omega-3 rich seafood. While coconut flour won’t add omega-3s to your diet, it can help reduce the amount of omega-6s since it can replace nut flours and refined grain flours.
Coconut flour and almond flour, sometimes also almond meal, both make great coatings for proteins, but have different textures and qualities when cooked with. Almond flour tends to be more crunchy, nutty, crumbly, and less soft. Almond flour also has a stronger taste and tastes like almonds, while coconut flour has a more mild taste.
Coconut flour absorbs more water than almond flour does, is denser, and creates a softer product. You can use both together to create many healthy gluten free recipes that are completely free of any grains and high in many nutrients.
*Personal Note: Actually I just read an article about some “cons” of using almond flour that I wasn’t aware of until now. More on that some other time; just know that it’s not as great in some respects as previously thought. 😦
Here’s how coconut flour compares to other gluten-free flours:
How to Cook with Coconut Flour
Coconut flour can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. It is unsweetened and has a slight smell and taste of coconut, but this easily blends well with other ingredients in recipes and does not overpower other tastes. While it has a light, airy appearance and texture when dried, it becomes pretty dense when cooked with or baked.
You will want to make sure to de-clump the flour first before cooking with it, since it’s prone to forming clumps; do this by mixing it with a fork to take out any air bubbles or lumpy bits.
Coconut flour is high in fiber with 5 grams per every 2 Tbsp. serving, so it will absorb a lot of water while cooking with it. Compared to other flours, think of coconut flour as being much more of an absorbent “sponge”, therefore having the capability to dry out certain traditional recipes.
It’s best to use coconut flour in combination with other flours or self-rising ingredients like eggs when baking in order to get the best results. Coconut flour can also be used on its own to thicken soups and stews or to coat ingredients in place of breadcrumbs. No matter how you use it, make sure to mix it well before adding it to recipes and after you’ve combined it with other ingredients to ensure you get the best finished product.
Baking with COCONUT FLOUR
When baking with coconut flour, it works best to use an equal ratio of liquid to flour; this means you would use 2 tablespoons of water for every 2 tablespoons of coconut flour. The water will be easily absorbed during the baking process, so by not adding enough liquid, your product can come out too dry and crumbly.
You can also use coconut oil along with coconut flour to add even more benefits and retain moisture. One benefit of coconut flour’s absorbency is that it works well to give baked goods a dense quality, for example in a heart bread or something similar.
For the best results, it’s recommended to use coconut flour as a replacement for up to about 20% of the total flour in a recipe. This means if you’re baking with almond meal or sprouted spelt wheat flour for example, you can substitute out 20% of one of those flours and add coconut flour instead.
This will add extra fiber, MUFA fats, and nutrients to your finished product without altering the texture or taste much at all. Just remember that you will need to add extra liquid to compensate. In this case, if you substituted ¼ cup of coconut flour into the recipe, you would also add an extra ¼ cup water or other liquid.
While most experienced cooks do not recommend using coconut flour on its own in recipes, especially when baking, some people have positive results when combining 100% coconut flour and eggs together, then baking the two.
Since coconut flour is free from gluten, which usually binds ingredients together, the egg takes the place of the gluten and will hold your product in place without it crumbling. You can make a coconut flour-egg-muffin taste either sweet or savory depending on your preference. Try adding cinnamon, pure honey, and cocoa powder for a sweeter treat, or herbs and spices for a savory breakfast.
Coconut flour is a much healthier alternative to refined carbohydrate flours in many ways. By adding it to baked recipes which may be high in sugar and prone to spiking blood glucose levels, you can lower the glycemic index on the recipe. This means that the sugar in the recipe will impact blood glucose levels more slowly, not causing a spike and dip in energy levels, and prevent episodes of hypoglycemia.
There are countless ways to take advantage of the nutrient boost you’ll get from coconut flour nutrition. Try mixing it with spices like garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, sea salt, and black pepper to make a basic coating mixture. Or to mimic the taste of traditional breadcrumbs used in Italian and French cooking, add oregano, basil, parsley, and other traditional Mediterranean herbs.
Coconut flour normally does not contain added sulfites or preservatives, if you buy a high-quality brand, so it’s recommended to store your coconut flour in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer to keep it fresh for longer after opening. This is especially true if you decide to make and store your own homemade coconut flour. Once opened, it should last up to one year if kept in a cool, dry place.
How to Make Coconut Flour
Just like you can make your own coconut milk or almond flour, you can make your own homemade coconut flour. In order to make it and save the amount of food you’re wasting, you can use the leftover fiber from making coconut milk. This way you get two homemade products at the same time!
Start by blending together coconut meat and water in a high speed blender, like a Blendtec or Vitamix. Then, use a straining bag or cheese cloth to catch all of the coconut meat, leaving behind only the coconut milk which you can save and use in many recipes later on.
When you have the coconut meat separated, you will spread it onto a baking sheet and bake it at a low temperature for several hours to dry it out. Keep in mind that you’re not exactly cooking the coconut meat to create flour, rather just slowly dehydrating it until it reaches a powdery, flour-like consistency.
Some people consider coconut flour to be raw for this reason, while others argue it isn’t; it really depends on how high of a temperature you choose to dehydrate it at. Most people recommend baking coconut flour at about 150 degrees, or the lowest setting the oven will stay at, for 4-6 hours to get the best results.
Where to Buy Coconut Flour
If you’d rather buy pre-made coconut flour than make your own, look for quality *brands and take a look at the nutrition panel. It’s best to purchase a brand with the only ingredient on the package as “coconut flour”. You want to avoid getting brands that are sweetened with any type of extra sugar, artificially flavored, have preservatives, or have any binding agents in them. The shorter the list of the ingredients (ideally only one), the better; this means you get the most benefits from coconut flour nutrition without unwanted side effects.
If you have Celiac disease, a gluten sensitivity, or are just avoiding gluten containing grains, make sure to check that the brand of coconut flour you purchase is labeled gluten free and produced in a completely gluten free facility. This will ensure that it’s been batch tested using the R5 ELISA Gluten Assay and will contain no traces of gluten at all, which is sometimes not the case with flours that are made in wheat containing facilities.
*Personal Note: You can get coconut flour at a discount at two of my favorite on-line places to shop, Vitacost.com and iHerb.com. And remember, a little goes a long way, so even though it’s more expensive than wheat flour, it all evens out….plus coconut flour is so good for you!
For a free e-book from Dr. Axe with 27 recipes using coconut flour, just click here. The Apple Coconut Crisp looks and sounds especially appealing. 🙂
And here’s a comparison of coconut flour to wheat flour, plus a baking tip and tasty-sounding muffin recipe that I found on healthy-holistic-living.com…..
Coconut Flour vs. All Purpose Flour
|One half cup or 56 grams of coconut flour contains:
- 6.22g fat
- 34.22g carbs
- 24.9g fiber
- 9.33 net carbs
- 12.44g protein
- 140 calories
|One half cup or 62.5 grams of all purpose flour contains:
- 0 fat
- 46g carbs
- 1.5 fiber
- 44.50 net carbs
- 6.00g protein
- 220 calories
Coconut flour is dry and dense; it needs to be beaten thoroughly when worked with.
The key to getting a good texture from your baked coconut flour goods is to let the mixture sit for at least five minutes to ensure that the coconut flour is completely absorbed – then stir again.
The Ultimate Coconut Flour Muffins
- 1 banana
- 1 apple (Red Delicious, Gala, or Fuji)
- ½ cup coconut flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tbsp. vanilla extract
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/3 cup dried tart cherries, dried cranberries, raisins, or dried blueberries – optional
- ½ cup chopped pecans – optional
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
- Grease a 6-count muffin pan with coconut oil
- Warm ¼ cup of coconut oil until softened and almost liquid
- In a large bowl: mash banana, grate apple unpeeled, add eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, coconut oil, salt, and mix well
- Mix in coconut flour, baking powder, and stir well
- Let sit for 5 minutes ( this is key, as the coconut flour needs to sit to absorb fully into the liquid mixture).
- Stir in pecans and cherries
- Spoon into muffin tins
- Bake 19-22 minutes until edges start to brown. Stick toothpick in center of one muffin, if it comes out clean its done
- Let cool for 1 minute in tin, then run a knife around the edges, remove muffins and cool on a wire rack. Serve while warm. Muffins refrigerate well and last for 7 days.
Enjoy these easy to make delicious coconut flour muffins and the best part; you will be shedding fat at the same time. It’s a win win!
Article originally posted on DailySuperFoodLove.com
Have you tried baking with coconut flour? Got a tip or favorite recipe to share?
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Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.