What is Coconut Flour?
Coconut flour is made by drying coconut flesh and grinding it. It is a byproduct of coconut milk and oil production.(1, 2) During the flour-making process, coconut is cracked open and the liquid in it is drained. The coconut flesh is then scraped out, rinsed, grated, and strained to separate solid from the milk. The solids are then baked at low temperature until it is dry. It is then ground into flour. The powder has a look and feel similar to grain such as wheat and its flavor is mild.
Coconut flour is used commonly in gluten-free and grain-free products and is found in most grocery stores and also online.
Nutrition of Coconut Flour
The nutrient profile of coconut flour is quite impressive. It is high in fiber, iron, potassium, and plant-based protein.
¼ cup of coconut flour contains 120 calories, 18 grams of carb, 6 grams of sugar, 10 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat, 11% of the daily value of iron, and 13% of the daily value of potassium.(3) Coconut flour has high protein, fiber, and mineral content (potassium and iron) than wheat flour.(4)
Lack of potassium and fiber is linked with health issues such as heart disease and digestive issues.(5, 6) Adding coconut flour to the diet can help meet the recommended daily intake of these nutrients. It is in fact a popular choice for those following a low-carb diet.
Benefits of Coconut Flour
Coconut flour with its excellent nutrient profile offers a variety of health benefits.
Keeps Blood Sugar Stable
The fiber content of coconut flour is good for maintaining sugar levels. Its ¼ cup contains 36% of the daily value of fiber.
Foods that are rich in fiber help in maintaining blood sugar levels by slowing down the speed at which the sugar enters the bloodstream. It also benefits by reducing blood sugar and insulin levels and promoting a healthy weight.(7)
Being low in carbohydrates and high in protein, coconut flour promotes healthy blood sugar. Research shows adding coconut flour to baked goods lowers the glycemic index, which is a measure of foods that impact blood sugar levels.(8)
Promoting Digestive Health
The high fiber content of coconut flour makes it a good choice for keeping the digestive system healthy. Most of its fiber is insoluble that adds bulk to the stool and helps the food in moving safely through the gut, thereby reducing the risk of constipation.(9) A high fiber diet also reduces the risk of many digestive health conditions including colon cancer.(10)
Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
The potassium content of coconut flour makes it efficient in maintaining blood pressure levels and thereby reducing the risk of heart diseases.(12)
Supports Healthy Body Weight
Coconut flour offers both fiber and protein in a good amount, both of which are important for appetite regulation and keeping a person full in between meals. This can reduce the overall calorie intake.(13)
Coconut Flour is Free from Gluten and Grains
Gluten is a group of proteins present in grains including wheat, barley, and rice. People, if are intolerant to it, may experience gas, cramps, diarrhea, and gut damage.(16, 17) Also, people with celiac disease and wheat allergies should avoid gluten-containing grains. Coconut is a good alternative to wheat and a good option for those looking for gluten-free choices.
Coconut flour can be used in a variety of recipes including baked goods, pizza crust, wraps, soups, stews, and burgers. It is high in fiber and protein and can be added to the diet to promote stable blood sugar, good digestion, and heart health.