Everything you need to know about coconut flour

Reducing your consumption of refined grains like white flour can benefit your health and aid weight loss.

So if you’re looking to eat less refined carbohydrates, or follow a gluten-free diet, coconut flour can be a worthy alternative to wheat flour with some intriguing nutritional benefits.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is coconut flour?

“Coconut flour is made from the pulp of coconuts, which is then dried and ground into flour,” explains Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Brunswick, MD. “It’s a great gluten-free flour that’s growing in popularity.”

You can find coconut flour in most grocery stores, or you can make your own by mixing dried, unsweetened shredded coconut into a fine powder.

Coconut Flour Nutrition

Coconut flour provides more protein and fiber than regular white flour, along with iron and healthy fats.

A ¼ cup (30 g) serving of coconut flour contains:

  • 120 calories
  • 4 grams of fat
  • 18 grams of carbohydrates
  • 10 grams of fiber
  • 6 grams of protein

In contrast, a ¼ cup (30 g) serving of all-purpose white flour contains 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber and 3 grams of protein.

Coconut flour is a good source of iron, says Schlichter, with ¼ cup providing nearly 20 percent of the daily recommended amount of iron for adults 51 and older.

And coconut flour also contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), fats that are used more quickly and efficiently than some other forms of fat.

“These fats go straight to the liver and give you a quick energy boost,” says Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC, a registered dietitian nutritionist in New York City.

Research suggests that MCTs may also have some anti-inflammatory properties and help support healthy cholesterol levels.

Note that coconut flour is higher in protein and fiber than regular wheat flour, but also more caloric and higher in fat.

If you’re baking with coconut flour, you probably need to add less fat or the final product will be super compact.

Benefits of coconut flour

Hand pouring coconut flour into mixing bowl

If you’re considering swapping your regular flour for coconut flour, here are a few potential benefits.

1. It’s Gluten Free

Since coconut flour is not made from wheat, it does not contain gluten.

“Coconut flour is appealing to those with gluten allergies, intolerances, or those who prefer a gluten-free diet,” says Schlichter.

2. It has more fiber than white flour

Pancakes, muffins or energy snacks made with coconut flour can help you feel full for longer.

“Coconut flour has more fat and more nutrients than regular flour,” says Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN of Real Nutrition NYC. “It’s more filling, thanks to its nutritional profile.”

That includes 10 times more fiber than regular all-purpose white flour. It also contains more fiber than other gluten-free flours, such as almond flour.

Fiber promotes satiety, which can help you meet your weight loss goals.

3. It contains more protein and fewer carbohydrates than white flour

A serving of coconut flour contains 18 grams of carbohydrates, compared to 23 grams in an equivalent serving of all-purpose white flour.

4. It’s Versatile

“Coconut flour has a mild, sweet taste that usually doesn’t overpower other flavors when added in small amounts,” says Mackenzie Burgess, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist and recipe developer in Fort Collins, CO.

“It’s a great ingredient to have on hand,” Burgess adds. “I like to buy Bob’s Red Mill coconut flour because it comes from high-quality desiccated coconut and packs in 3 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per two tablespoons.”

Using coconut flour in recipes

Banana bread Energy Balls in a can

Coconut flour has a natural sweetness that makes it a perfect substitute for regular flour in baking recipes, including cookies, cakes and muffins.

You can also use it to lower the carbohydrate content and increase the fiber quotient of your favorite carbohydrate-rich recipes, such as pancakes or bread.

But before you delve into using coconut flour in recipes, it’s important to note that it’s not a simple 1:1 substitution.

Coconut flour is much more absorbent than regular flour, Burgess says, so you’ll need to adjust the amount you use in your baking recipes.

Try swapping ¼ to ⅓ cup of coconut flour for a cup of regular flour.

“You may need to add some extra liquid or eggs to your recipe to account for a thicker batter from the coconut flour,” notes Burgess.

Coconut flour can even be used as a thickener in soups and sauces, as a binding agent in meatballs or meatloaf recipes, or as a substitute for breadcrumbs. Keep in mind that coconut flour has a mild coconut flavor, but the spices and seasonings in your recipe will likely overpower it.

Need inspiration? Try one of these tasty coconut flour recipes:

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