Coconut products have seen a lot of buzz lately, leaving many pondering, “what is coconut flour, and how is it used?”
Native to Malaysia, the coconut tree is considered one of the top ten most useful trees in the world, producing various tools from the shell and husk of the nut, and five different food products, including milk, water, sugar, oil, and meat.1 Coconut flour is created through the process of dehydrating, pressing, flaking, and grinding the meat of the coconut.2
Coconut flour is used around the world, but has seen a rise in popularity in western countries over the past decade, where it is used in a variety of cooking and baking practices. Throughout this article, you will learn more about the nutritional aspects of coconut flour, its benefits, some great recipes, and where you can buy coconut flour.
Coconut Flour Nutrition
The coconut flour glycemic index is low, and the sugar in coconut is thought to be healthier than standard table sugar, or brown sugar used in traditional baking.1 So, is coconut flour good for you? The following list of coconut flour nutrition facts can shed some light on this. These facts are based on a measurement of ¼ cup or 35g of coconut flour.3 In ¼ cup of coconut flour, you can expect to find:
- Calories in coconut flour: 150
- Carbs in coconut flour: 21g
- Sugar in coconut flour: 2g
- Fat in coconut flour: 5g
- Coconut flour protein: 6g
- Coconut flour fiber content: 13g
- Calcium: 20mg
- Iron: 6.43mg
- Sodium: 70mg
Is Coconut Flour Paleo or Gluten Free?
For those who suffer from gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, there is always a concern when flour is involved. This leads many to wonder, “Is coconut flour gluten free?” Fortunately, coconut flour is a gluten free alternative to wheat based flours, containing only the dried and treated meat of the coconut.
Coconut flour is also considered an acceptable ingredient in the paleo diet, which consumes food that is hunted or gathered naturally.
Cooking & Baking with Coconut Flour
Now that you know what coconut flour is, and where it comes from, you might be wondering how to bake with coconut flour. The biggest difference you’ll see when comparing other flours to organic coconut flour is the coconut flour conversion. For recipes using coconut flour, it is usually considered more dense than other types of flour. This makes it more absorbent, requiring less flour overall.
Substitute Coconut Flour for Almond Flour
Coconut flour vs almond flour requires a change in ratio not only for flour, but liquid ingredients as well. For every 1 cup of almond flour in a recipe, you will only need ¼ cup of coconut flour. Due to the high absorbency in coconut flour, 1 and ¼ eggs should be added for every ¼ cup of coconut flour added to an almond flour recipe. In terms of taste, coconut flour is said to have a sweeter finish, whereas almond flour is reminiscent of the nut. Additionally, almond flour is higher in fat per serving, but is generally low in carbohydrates.
Substitute Coconut Flour for All Purpose
When comparing coconut flour vs white flour there is a ratio change of 1/3:1, meaning that for every 1 cup of all-purpose flour, only 1/3 of a cup of coconut flour is needed as a substitute. As with almond flour, recipes which substitute coconut flour for all-purpose flour also contain more egg than all-purpose flour recipes. For every 1 cup of coconut flour, approximately 6-medium sized beaten eggs are added to the mixture.
How Long Does Coconut Flour Last?
As with any flour product, coconut flour eventually becomes stale, and expires. According to the Philippine Coconut Authority, the coconut flour shelf life is longer or shorter depending on the temperature at which it is stored. When stored at 20°C, coconut flour will last 26 months, while at 30°C, it lasts 14 months, and at 40°, it lasts 9 months.4
Coconut Flour Benefits
The top coconut flour benefits include:
1. Cholesterol-Lowering Properties
2. Good for Celiac Diets
3. Acceptable for Paleo Diets
4. Good Source of Protein
5. It’s Delicious!
Coconut flour can be used in place of other flours, but is coconut flour healthy? There are several benefits of coconut flour; for a closer look at each, read on below.
One of the major health benefits of coconut flour is that coconut flour is good source of dietary fiber, and as with most fibrous foods, it has a positive effect on cholesterol levels. In a 2004 study, researchers tested the effects of coconut flour on 21 subjects with high cholesterol. The study took place over a 14-week period, after which researchers noted that coconut flour had a positive effect on cholesterol and serum lipid levels at both 15% and 25% ratios.5
Good for Celiac Diets
Another of the many coconut flour health benefits, is that it can be used as a substitute for all-purpose flour in gluten-free diets. Gluten is a protein found in barley, wheat, and rye products.6 Flour made from alternative resources, such as coconut or almond, are safe for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.
Good for Paleo Diets
Coconut flour is also an acceptable staple in a paleo diet, which follows the guidelines of historical hunting and gathering food practices. Because coconuts grow on trees, coconut flour is a gathered product, which can be used by paleo followers in several styles of cooking and baking.
Good Source of Protein
Coconut flour offers 6g of protein per ¼ cup, compared to 4g of protein supplied per ¼ cup of whole wheat flour, and 3g of protein per ¼ cup of all purpose flour.3,7,8 Using coconut flour in place of traditional wheat flour supplies additional protein, an important part of the human diet. Some of the most popular uses for coconut flour include using it as a natural thickening agent in sauces, gravies, and even smoothies.
Where to Buy Coconut Flour
You can buy coconut flour at many chain grocery stores, health food stores, or online retailers, such as Amazon.com. Bags of coconut flour tend to sell smaller than all-purpose flour, coming in packages of 454g or 1kg, depending on the brand. For the smaller bag, coconut flour cost will range – anywhere from $5-$8, while larger bags run at about $10-$13.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Ahuja, S.C., Ahuja, S. & Ahuja, U. (2014). Coconut – history, uses, and folklore. Asian Agri History. 18(3), 221-248. Retrieved on November 9, 2017 from – View Reference
- Hagenmaier, R. D., Quinitio, P. H. & Clark, S. P. (1975). Coconut flour: Technology and cost of manufacture. Journal of the American oil Chemists Society. Retrieved on November 9, 2017 from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02637484?LI=true
- United States Department of Agriculture. (2017). 45105625, coconut flour, upc: 00517331. USDA Branded Food products Database. Retrieved on November 9, 2017 from – View Reference
- The Philippine Coconut Authority. (2014). Coconut Flour. Coconut Processing Technologies. Retrieved on November 9, 2017 from – View Reference
- Trinidad, T. P., Loyola, A. S., Mallilan, A. C., Valdez, D. H., Askali, F. C., Castillo, J. C., Resaba, R. L. & Masa, D. B. (2004). The cholesterol lowering effect of coconut flakes in humans with moderately raised serum cholesterol. Journal of Medicinal Food. 7(2), 136-140. DOI: 1089/1096620041224148
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (n.d.). Celiac Disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved on November 9, 2017 from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/celiac-disease
- United States Department of Agriculture. (2017). King Arthur flour, unbleached white whole wheat flour. USDA Branded Food Products Database. Retrieved on November 9, 2017 from – View Reference
- United States Department of Agriculture. (2017). Meijer, enriched all-purpose flour. USDA Branded Food Products Database. Retrieved on November 9, 2017 from – View Reference