Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is made from fresh coconut meat that is dried, defatted by a mechanical expeller, and ground into a fine powder. It can also be made from the residue remaining after the extraction of coconut milk. Coconut flour is gluten-free and very high in dietary fiber (35% to 60%, depending on the processing method). Because it contains so much fiber (i.e., indigestible carbohydrate), coconut flour is very low in digestible carbohydrate. It has about the same amount of protein as whole wheat flour.

Over 90% of the fiber in coconut flour is insoluble.[1] The fiber is fermentable by colonic bacteria and produces short-chain fatty acids (butyrate, acetate, and propionate, in that order by concentration), which are known for their benefits to colonic health.[2] When coconut flour was substituted for 5% to 25% of the wheat flour in various baked foods, the added fiber did not reduce mineral absorption.[1]

How to Use Coconut Flour

Coconut flour can be substituted for 10% to 20% of the wheat flour in standard recipes without greatly affecting texture, but with special recipes, baked goods can be made with all coconut flour. Since coconut flour contains no gluten, baking recipes using coconut flour to the exclusion of other flours typically use many eggs for leavening. To convert a standard recipe to one using only coconut flour, one suggestion is to use one egg for each ounce (about 3 tablespoons) of coconut flour. Coconut flour can also be used as a thickening agent in sauces and gravies. It can also be substituted for wheat flour for breading of meats.

Benefits of Cooking with Coconut Flour

  • Provides dietary fiber
    • Helpful for constipation
    • Reduces total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides1
  • Is gluten-free

References

[1] Trinidad TP et al. Dietary fiber from coconut flour: a functional food. Innov Food Sci Emerg Technol 2006; 7(4):309-317.

[2] Hamer HM et al. Review article: the role of butyrate on colonic function. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2008; 27(2):104-119.