Coconut flour is a unique alternative to wheat flour.
It’s popular among low-carb enthusiasts and those who have a gluten intolerance.
In addition to its impressive nutrition profile, coconut flour may offer several benefits. These include promoting blood sugar stability, better digestion, heart health, and even weight loss.
What is coconut flour?
Coconut flour is made from coconut flesh that has been dried and ground.
The resulting white powder looks and feels similar to flours made from grains like wheat and is very mild in taste.
Coconut flour is gluten-free
Coconut flour contains no gluten, making it an option for people with certain conditions, such as celiac disease, wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. It’s also naturally grain-free, making it a popular choice for those on grain-free diets, such as the paleo diet.
Benefits of coconut flour
Coconut flour has a diverse nutrient profile and may offer a range of health benefits.
In addition to being very rich in fiber, coconut flour provides medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and plant-based iron.
MCTs are a type of fat linked to several benefits, such as weight loss, protection against bacteria and viruses, and enhanced brain and heart health (2, 7, 8, 9).
Keeps blood sugars stable
Coconut flour is packed with fiber, which may help keep your blood sugar levels in check.
A 1/4-cup (30-gram) serving provides a whopping 40% of the DV for fiber, or 3 and 10 times more than the same quantity of whole-wheat or all-purpose flour, respectively (6).
Foods rich in fiber help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing down the speed at which sugar enters your bloodstream.
It also ranks low on the glycemic index (GI), meaning that breads and baked goods made from it are less likely to spike blood sugar levels (1, 12).
May promote healthy digestion
The high fiber content of coconut flour may also benefit your digestion.
Most of its fiber is insoluble, which adds bulk to stools and helps move food smoothly through your gut, reducing the likelihood of constipation (13).
Additionally, coconut flour boasts small amounts of soluble and other fermentable fibers, which feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
In turn, these bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like acetate, propionate, and butyrate, all of which nourish your gut cells (1, 14).
SCFAs may also reduce inflammation and symptoms linked to gut disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (14, 15, 16).
May improve heart health
Coconut flour may also benefit heart health.
Research shows that consuming 15–25 grams of coconut fiber daily may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by 11%, LDL (bad) cholesterol by 9%, and blood triglycerides by up to 22% (1).
What’s more, coconut flour provides lauric acid, a type of fat thought to help kill the bacteria responsible for plaque buildup in your arteries. This plaque is associated with heart disease (2).
Yet, other studies suggest that lauric acid may have no effect on or even raise LDL (bad) cholesterol, so lauric acid’s effect on cholesterol may vary by individual (1, 17, 18).
May help you lose weight
Coconut flour may help you shed excess weight because it offers both fiber and protein, two nutrients shown to reduce hunger and appetite (19, 20).
In addition, coconut flour contains MCTs, which are less likely to be stored as fat because they travel directly to your liver, where they’re used for energy production (21).
MCTs may also reduce appetite and are processed by your body differently than longer-chain fats found in foods like olives and nuts. This difference may help you burn slightly more calories (22, 23).
May kill harmful viruses and bacteria
Coconut flour is rich in lauric acid, a type of fat that may fight certain infections.
Once ingested, lauric acid forms a compound known as monolaurin. Test-tube research shows that lauric acid and monolaurin may kill harmful viruses, bacteria, and fungi (2, 25), especially infections such as Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and Candida albicans yeast (2, 26, 27).
Coconut flour uses
Coconut flour can be used in a variety of recipes, both sweet and savory. You can substitute it for other flours when making bread, pancakes, cookies, muffins, or other baked goods. Coconut flour tends to absorb more liquids than other flours. You can start by substituting 1/4 cup (30 grams) of coconut flour for every cup (120 grams) of all-purpose flour. It is important to increase the liquid in your recipes.
For example, if you used 1/4 cup (30 grams) of coconut flour, make sure to pour in 1/4 cup (60 ml) of additional liquids. Remember that coconut flour tends to be denser than other flours and doesn’t bind as easily.
Bakers often recommend that you mix it with other flours or add 1 egg for each 1/4 cup (30 grams) of coconut flour to help give your end product a fluffier texture.
This unique flour can also be used as breading or to thicken soups and stews. What’s more, you can use it as a binding agent in burger or veggie loaf recipes, as well as to make grain-free pizza crust or wraps.
In Conclusion, coconut flour is a delicious and versatile gluten-free flour made solely from coconuts. Rich in fiber and MCTs, it may promote stable blood sugar, good digestion, and heart health. It may also boost weight loss, fight some infections and be used in the paleo lifestyle.
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !