5 Reasons To Try Coconut Flour
I admit I never knew anything about coconut flour until about a month ago. That’s when a dear friend who loves to bake mentioned that she was trying a new gluten-free recipe that used coconut flour. “Oh yes,” she said, “I’ve used it for years.”
My interest in learning more about coconut flour was piqued, so I decided to do a little research. I also must confess that I have never liked coconut—not coconut cake, cookies, or anything with coconut in it. But this fact did not “flavor” my review of this food. So here goes.
What is coconut flour?
Coconut flour is made by finely grinding coconut solids, which are the white fleshy part of the drupe (stone fruit). (Coconuts are technically known as drupes, as are peaches and mangoes.) The result is a delicate powder that possesses a mild coconut flavor and aroma.
If you bake or want to buy products made with coconut flour, such as cakes, cookies, muffins, and pancakes, you can expect them to have a mild coconut taste, depending on whether coconut flour is the only flour used or it has been combined with another flour. In addition to flavor, there are the nutritional factors associated with coconut flour.
With that as an introduction, here are five reasons to consider using coconut flour.
- Gluten-free status
- Whether you have celiac disease, are sensitive to gluten, or you want to try a gluten-free diet to help manage symptoms of a health concern such as autism, use of coconut flour can be helpful. Coconut flour does not contain the gluten protein molecules that can be so hazardous to some individuals.
- Beneficial fats
- As you can see from the nutritional analysis below, coconut flour contains more fat than does whole-grain wheat flour. However, nearly all of the saturated fats in coconut flour are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which differ from the much more common long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). MCTs have health advantages over the LCTs; for example, they can enhance the metabolism (and thus help with weight loss) and also have antimicrobial and antiviral properties.
- Fabulous fiber
- You probably already know you should eat more fiber because it helps fight heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and even some types of cancer. A quick look at the nutritional information below shows that coconut flour has more than twice the fiber of whole-grain wheat flour.
- Protein power
- Coconut flour contains more protein than do other common flours. Just 4 ounces of coconut flour contains about 20 grams of protein, which is about one-third of what the average adult needs per day.
- Diabetes friendly
- Coconut flour has a superior glycemic load value than do whole-grain wheat, white, and other common flours. Glycemic load is a term that includes the amount of carbohydrates any specific food contains and its glycemic index, which is a measurement of the effect of that food on blood sugar levels. For individuals with diabetes or who are prediabetic, the lower the glycemic load the better.
Read more about coconut flour and other gluten-free flours
Here’s a blow-by-blow comparison of coconut flour with whole-grain wheat flour and white, bleached flour. The values are for 28 grams or about 4 tablespoons and are from Nutritiondata.
Some individual vitamin and/or mineral values may differ depending on the brand you buy, as producers may add some nutrients. For example, the DailyValue for iron is 0 percent for general coconut flour, but one popular brand (Bob’s Red Mill Organic) shows 10 percent on its label.
4 grams total fat
4 grams saturated fat
11 grams fiber
5 grams protein
Glycemic load: 3
Whole-grain wheat flour
1 gram total fat
0 grams saturated fat
3 grams fiber
4 grams protein
Glycemic load: 10
White, all-purpose, bleached
0 grams total fat
1 gram fiber
3 grams protein
Glycemic load: 15
Coconut flour offers some clear advantages to individuals who have certain health issues, but it also provides a tasty, nutritional alternative to more common flours for everyone. Consider coconut flour the next time you bake and see what you think!