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 amongst 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. (1)
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. (2) 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. (3) Coconut flour has this positive effect because of its high supply of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber plus its healthy MUFA fat content. ( style=”color: #0000ff;” 4)
Coconut Flour Nutrition Facts
A ¼ cup serving (or about 28 g.) of coconut flour has roughly (5):
- 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.
Here’s how coconut flour compares to other gluten-free flours as well:
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 has 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
Some ways to take advantage of the benefits of coconut flour nutrition include using it in these types of baked recipes:
- Breads, with a dense texture
- cupcakes, for example these Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
- Cinnamon buns, like these low sugar and gluten free Cinnamon Buns
- Cookies, like these gluten free Mounds Cookies
- Pancakes, for example these filling Coconut Chia Pancakes
- Crepes, like these yummy Coconut Banana Crepes
- Brownies, like these chocolaty Sweet Potato Brownies
- Truffles, like these Dark Chocolate Protein Truffles
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 cannot 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 coconut flour 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. ( style=”color: #0000ff;” 6)
COCONUT FLOUR in Savory Recipes
You can incorporate coconut flour in savory recipes by using it in these ways:
- In place of nut coatings, like pecan or almond coating for example, on fish or chicken
- As a substitute for breadcrumbs in meatballs or on protein
- To make a faux pizza crust, like this recipe for Coconut Pizza Crust
- To make grain-free “paleo” coconut wraps or bread
- Mixed and baked with eggs for savory, high-protein egg muffins
- To bind together veggie burgers or meatloaf
- To make chicken, turkey, grass-fed beef, or fish burgers, for example like these Cilantro Salmon Burgers
- To thicken soups or stews without the need for dairy or refined flour
- To make savory breads or biscuits
There are countless ways to take advantage of the nutrient boost you’ll get from coconut flour nutrition. You can use coconut flour as a healthy, gluten free coating for chicken, fish or other proteins in place of breadcrumbs or regular refined flours. Try mixing coconut flour 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 coconut flour and save the amount of food your 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.
Based on those tips, here is a step-by-step guide to making your own coconut flour:
Separate fresh, raw coconut meat and coconut milk by blending the two together in a high speed blender. Then use a cheese cloth or another type of straining bag to catch all of the coconut meat and bottle the coconut milk.
- Preheat your oven to a very low temperature, around 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Slowly dehydrate your coconut flour over the course of about 4-6 hours, depending on the exact heat. Check it after 4 hours to see if it’s turned into a powdery, flour type texture.
Where to Buy Coconut Flour
You can purchase pre-made coconut flour at your favorite health food stores, certain major grocery stores that carry alternative or gluten free flours, some farmers markets, or through online retailers.
Because coconut flour is pure and free from common digestive irritants and artificial additives, the benefits of coconut flour nutrition are being embraced by those with nut allergies, digestive disorders, insulin sensitives, and many more people. This is good news and means that more and more retailers should begin stocking coconut flour.
If you’ve had no luck finding it in stores, you can purchase coconut flour from Tropical Traditions, which is my favorite company to order from online.
If you rather buy premade coconut flour than to make your own, look for quality brands and take a look at the coconut flour nutrition panel.
Its 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.
Have you tried baking with coconut flour? How did you like the texture?