The Health Benefits of Coconut Flour • A Gluten-Free Flour Substitute

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Coconut flour is a flour made from coconut solids that have been ground into a very fine powder. It has a mild coconut scent and flavor, which makes it suitable for flour-based recipes that don’t have other strongly-flavored ingredients such as cocoa powder or spices. It is also quite light and airy, making it especially suitable for baked goods like muffins, pancakes, and cakes.

The reputation of coconut flour is growing in the West due to its considerable health benefits, which far exceed those of processed flours. Below is a list of reasons why health-conscious individuals are beginning to take coconut flour seriously, and why an increasing number of books specializing in coconut flour recipes are being published every year.

List of Health Benefits

Gluten-free – Arguably coconut flour’s biggest attraction is its gluten-free status, meaning it contains none of the gluten protein molecules found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is highly allergenic and can even be deadly for people with Celiac disease (a condition where gluten damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing nutrients in food). However, growing evidence – particularly that compiled by Dr. William Davis in his groundbreaking book, Wheat Belly – suggests that gluten is unhealthy for everyone, and is a leading cause of lethargy, bloating, brain fog, and more. Fortunately, gluten-free diets are becoming much easier to adopt thanks to the growing availability of gluten-free flours like coconut flour.

Rich in dietary fiber – According to a study published in the December 2006 issue of Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, adding coconut flour to our diets can significantly reduce our risk of developing heart disease, lower our cholesterol levels, and guard us from cancer and diabetes. The researchers, based in the Food and Nutrition Research Institute in the Philippines, claim that these benefits stem from coconut flour’s unusually high levels of dietary fiber (a 100 gram serving of it contains a whopping 39 grams of fiber, almost double that of wheat bran). Dr. Bruce Fife, a naturopathic physician and the author of the book, Cooking with Coconut Flour, claims that coconut flour can help adults reach their recommended daily fiber intake of between 20-35 grams. He recommends adding 1-2 tablespoons of coconut flour to gravies, baked goods, casseroles, or smoothies.

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