Coconut flour is becoming increasingly more popular in Paleo recipes, although it isn’t as easy to use since it doesn’t sub out other flours one-for-one like almond flour can. However, coconut flour comes with arguably more nutritional benefits. How should you decide if coconut flour should be part of your Paleo diet?
2 Tbsp of coconut flour contains:
- 60 calories
- 20 calories from fat
- 5 grams of fiber
- 2 grams of protein
Comparing the nutrient information between coconut flour and almond flour will reveal that coconut flour is significantly lower in fat and calories, as less coconut flour is required per recipe. Additionally, for those with a sensitivity to nuts, coconut flour is a hypoallergenic option.
Coconut flour is made as a byproduct of coconut milk and coconut water, and thus is widely available. While it can be expensive, choosing to buy in bulk from Costco, Trader Joe’s, or Amazon can significantly lower the price. Coconut flour should be purchased organic to ensure that it is free from toxins and chemicals that may be added during processing.
Nutrient benefits of coconut flour primarily come from the high fiber content, most of which is insoluble. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to food as it passes through the digestive tract, increasing regularity and helping to prevent constipation. Coconut flour is also rich in manganese, a trace element mineral that helps with food metabolism, hormone production, and supports the skeletal, nervous, cardiovascular, and digestive systems. Coconut flour also contains vitamin C, thiamin, and lauric acid, which is essential for immune, skin, and thyroid health.
Because of the high amount of insoluble fiber that coconut flour contains, it is highly beneficial for colon health. Coconut flour also helps to curb the appetite as it promotes a feeling of fullness. Studies have found that coconut flour is useful for those with cardiovascular disease as it promotes heart health and helps to lower serum cholesterol. It also has a low glycemic impact, so for those with diabetes or hypoglycemia, is a great alternative to other flours.
Should You Eat It?
Coconut flour has a light, nutty flavor that can be very versatile within both sweet and savory recipes. When used in baking, though, coconut flour tends to absorb a lot of liquid, especially compared to other flours. It generally takes only 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of coconut flour to substitute for other nut or grain flours. Because of this, it is not recommended to substitute coconut flour without first consulting an existing recipe.
Because coconut flour doesn’t bind together as well as other flours, many of the recipes call for several eggs. But don’t let an egg allergy or sensitivity deter you: eggs can be swapped using mashed banana (about 1/3 cup per egg), applesauce (1/3 to 1/2 cup per egg), or olive oil (2 to 3 Tbsp per egg).
Coconut flour is ideal for the Paleo diet because it is hypoallergenic and benefits the digestive system. While a Paleo lifestyle should still primarily revolve around vegetables and quality meats, coconut flour allows for some of the luxury treats that might otherwise be missing.