6 Surprising Coconut Flour Benefits You Need To Know!

Written by Payal Karnik , MSc (Biotechnology), Diploma In Nutrition

Coconut flour contains nearly twice as much dietary fiber as wheat bran. It is perfect for preparing a variety of mouth-watering pies, cookies, cakes, snacks, and desserts.

It is also gluten-free and contains high amounts of protein. Coconut flour is perfect for a keto diet as it has more protein than enriched flour and cornmeal. In short, coconut flour has immense health benefits.

It is easy on your digestive system, may control blood sugar levels, protect against heart disease and cancer, and help you lose weight. Keep reading this article to learn more about coconut flour nutrition, its benefits, and potential risks.

What Is Coconut Flour?

Coconut flour is ground, defatted, and dehydrated coconut. It is a byproduct of the coconut milk manufacturing process. Here are a few facts (1):

  • Coconut flour is darker than all-purpose flour. It is much denser than oat, maize, and all-purpose flours.
  • It has a mild nutty odor and nearly bland flavor due to its reduced fat content.
  • You can store it for six months at room temperature.

Coconut flour is a great alternative to wheat flour and is best for celiac disease, a digestive and autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine. Let’s learn why.

Is Coconut Flour Gluten-Free?

Yes, it is! And that is why it is best for people with celiac disease, an inheritable chronic illness marked by gluten sensitivity. It affects the small intestine, reducing food absorption and causing abdominal discomfort and malnutrition.

At the moment, the only therapy for gluten intolerance is to restrict gluten-containing foods, such as wheat, barley, and rye. However, a gluten-free diet is often low in dietary fiber and carbs (2). This is where coconut flour can help.

Anthony Puopolo, Chief Medical Officer at RexMD, observes, “Coconut flour is becoming increasingly popular, especially amongst those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance because of how easily it can be used as a substitute for white flour.”

It is a healthy and safe choice for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance (3). Moreover, coconut flour has a rich nutrient profile.

Nutritional Information of Coconut Flour

Coconut flour’s nutrient composition mainly depends on the coconut oil extraction process. Dry-processed coconut flour is high in protein, and wet-processed flour is high in fiber (3). Other than that, there is not much difference in the nutrient profile of coconut flour. Here is a quick overview:

Nutrient Percentage (Dry processing method)
Protein14.3%
Fat54%
Carbohydrate23.4%
Dietary Fiber20.5%
Ash1.5%
Moisture6.7%

According to the USDA, a tablespoon (15 g) of coconut flour contains (4):

Energy50 kcal
Protein2g
Fat3g
Carbohydrate8g
Dietary fiber6g
Iron1.08mg
Potassium200mg
Sodium15mg

Coconut flour has high fiber content, making it easy to digest. It also has several other health benefits.

Health Benefits of Coconut Flour

1. May Have Antidiabetic Properties

Coconut flour has proteins that contain l-arginine, an amino acid. This compound controls blood glucose levels and improves insulin resistance (3),(5).

Moreover, coconut flour contains fiber. The American Diabetes Association recommends consuming fiber-rich foods as they usually have a low glycemic index. Thus, the dietary fiber in coconut flour may be beneficial for people with diabetes (6).

2. May Promote Heart Health

Several studies showed that consuming dietary fiber consumption could lower serum cholesterol and blood pressure (7). While digesting the coconut flour in the gut, the microbes form short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids prevent cholesterol formation in the liver (8).

3. May Have Anticancer Properties

Coconut flour contains phenols and flavonoids. These antioxidants are free radical scavengers and considered to have a chemo-protective effect (3). Moreover, the digestion process of coconut flour in the gut produces butyrate, which has anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties (9)(10).

4. May Promote Digestion

Coconut flour is rich in dietary fiber, which is easy to digest as it passes through the small intestine faster, increases water retention in the colon, and makes the stool softer. That is why high-fiber foods or supplements like coconut flour are usually recommended to people with gastrointestinal disorders, such as IBS and constipation (11).

5. Promotes Gut Microflora

Coconut flour contains carbohydrates, which work as a powerful prebiotic when digested. This prebiotic substance supports the growth of good intestinal bacteria that helps maintain gut health and keep pathogens at bay (3), (12), (13).

6. May Help Control Weight

The fiber in coconut flour helps absorb water, which increases satiety. Studies showed that people who consumed coconut flour stayed away from ultra-processed foods like soft drinks and chocolates (14). This may help you stay full for longer, promote portion control, and help in weight management.

This flour is nutritionally dense and versatile, which makes it a great alternative to regular flour. Check out how you can add it to your diet.

How To Add Coconut Flour To Your Diet

You can use coconut flour to prepare baked goodies and desserts. It absorbs a lot of liquid, so you may need less flour or more liquid than the recipe says. As a rule of thumb, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, use ¼ cup of coconut flour. Check out some popular recipes with coconut flour.

1. Pancakes

What You Need

  • ¼ cup of coconut flour
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup of Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, (melted)
  • 1 tablespoon of flaxseed meal
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

How To Prepare

  1. Grease a cast-iron skillet with butter over medium-low heat.
  2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Pour one-third cup of the batter into the hot skillet.
  4. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side over low heat.
  5. Top it with syrup, berries, or whipped cream before serving.

2. Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies

What You Need

  • ¼ cup of coconut flour
  • ¼ cup of gluten-free flour
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • ¼ cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt

How To Prepare

  1. Preheat the oven to 400℉. Grease a baking sheet.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a mixer for about 2 minutes until you get a uniform dough.
  3. Drop the cookie dough onto the baking sheet with a cookie scoop. Leave an inch space between them.
  4. Flatten the cookies to about ¼-inch thickness. Make a crosshatch design on them with a fork.
  5. Bake the cookies for 8 to 12 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned.
  6. Let them cool down before removing them from the baking sheet.

3. Chocolate-Chip Brownies

What You Need

  • ½ cup of coconut flour, sifted
  • ½ cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon of semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup of coconut oil, melted
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

How To Prepare

  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉. Grease a baking sheet.
  2. Beat the eggs, coconut oil, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract in a bowl.
  3. Add coconut flour to it and mix until there are no lumps.
  4. Pour batter into the baking dish and top with chocolate chips.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes or until fully cooked.
  6. Remove it from the oven. Let it cool.

These gluten-free recipes are perfect for everyone, even those on the keto diet! Read more to find out how keto-friendly this flour is.

Is Coconut Flour Keto Friendly?

NASM certified nutrition coach Elliot Reimers says, “Coconut flour is considered keto-friendly because of its high-fat content and minimal carbs. Coconut is also low in sugar and therefore will not mess with your keto progress.”

Coconut flour does not contain much fat as the oil is extracted from it. However, it still contains medium-chain saturated fatty acids, such as lauric and myristic acids (15). Defatted coconut flour is low on carbohydrates (23.40%) (16). Hence, it is a great addition to the keto diet.

Proponents of the keto diet often prefer almond flour over any other type of flour. And recently, coconut flour has been giving it tough competition. Which one has the edge? Let’s find out.

Coconut Flour Vs. Almond Flour – Which One Is The Best?

Holly Klamer, MS, RDN, states, “Compared to almond flour, coconut flour is slightly higher in carbohydrates and lower in fat. However, almond flour contains more vitamins and minerals than coconut flour.”

If you are looking for a keto-friendly and healthy alternative, almond flour has the edge over coconut flour.

Nonetheless, coconut flour has an advantage over almond flour with respect to accessibility and expense. There is, however, a chance of side effects.

Possible Side Effects Of Coconut Flour

Coconut allergy is uncommon. However, there have been a few cases. Coconut-derived products can cause allergic contact dermatitis. You may experience mild symptoms like a skin rash or blistering (17), (18). Consult a doctor before consuming coconut flour.

The Final Words

Coconut flour is a healthy, safe, and gluten-free alternative to other flours. Its high dietary fiber content makes it beneficial for your health and digestive system. It may also help in weight and blood sugar management. However, ensure that you are not allergic to coconut before consuming coconut flour.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Why is coconut flour so dry?

Coconut flour is dry as it is made from dehydrated coconut and has less moisture.

Can you make coconut flour from shredded coconut?

Yes. They must be dried and then ground into a powder using a blender.

Can you eat coconut flour uncooked?

Yes. You can eat uncooked coconut flour.

Are coconut flour and desiccated coconut the same?

No. Desiccated coconut has a higher level of residual oil than coconut flour.

References:

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Coconut flour – a low carbohydrate gluten free flour: a review article.
    http://interscience.org.uk/v4-i1/1%20ijahm.pdf
  2. Nutritional Deficiencies in Children with Celiac Disease Resulting from a Gluten-Free Diet: A Systematic Review
    https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/7/1588/htm
  3. Coconut meal: Nutraceutical importance and food industry application
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336854470_Coconut_meal_Nutraceutical_importance_and_food_industry_application
  4. FoodData Central
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1479884/nutrients
  5. L-Arginine Modulates Glucose and Lipid Metabolism in Obesity and Diabetes
    https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ben/cpps/2017/00000018/00000006/art00012
  6. Dietary Fiber Intake and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1556370717300585
  7. Dietary Fiber Is Beneficial for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1556370717300160
  8. Role of Gut Microbiota-Generated Short-Chain Fatty Acids in Metabolic and Cardiovascular Health
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13668-018-0248-8
  9. Dietary fiber from coconut flour: A functional food
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222033828_Dietary_fiber_from_coconut_flour_A_functional_food
  10. Butyrate modulates oxidative stress in the colonic mucosa of healthy humans
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19108937
  11. Dietary fiber and digestive health in children
    https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/75/4/241/3747768?login=true
  12. Carbohydrate content and composition of product from subcritical water treatment of coconut meal
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1226086X1100195X
  13. Impacts of Gut Bacteria on Human Health and Diseases
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425030/
  14. EFFECT OF HYPOENERGETIC DIET COMBINED WITH CONSUMPTION OF COCONUT FLOUR IN OVERWEIGHT WOMEN
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26545655/
  15. Effect of Coconut Flour on Biscuit Quality
    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15428052.2021.1978362
  16. Defatted coconut flour improved the bioactive components dietary fibre antioxidant and sensory properties of nixtamalized maize flour
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666154320300235
  17. Coconut Allergy Revisited
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664015/
  18. Coconut Allergy
    https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy/coconut-allergy

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