Coconut flour is a unique alternative to wheat flour.

It’s popular among low-carb enthusiasts and those who have a gluten intolerance.

In addition to its impressive nutrition profile, coconut flour may offer several benefits. These include promoting blood sugar stability, better digestion, heart health, and even weight loss.

This article examines coconut flour, including its nutrition, benefits, and how it compares to similar products.

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Coconut flour is made from coconut flesh that has been dried and ground.

It originated in the Philippines, where it was first produced as a by-product of coconut milk (1, 2).

During manufacturing, coconuts are first cracked open and drained of liquid. The coconut meat is then scraped out, rinsed, grated, and strained to separate the solids from the milk. This product is baked at a low temperature until dry before being ground into flour.

The resulting white powder looks and feels similar to flours made from grains like wheat and is very mild in taste.

Summary Coconut flour is made from dried and ground coconut flesh. Mild in taste, its texture is similar to other flours.

Coconut flour contains no gluten, making it an option for people with certain conditions, such as celiac disease, wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains, including wheat, barley, and rye, and is difficult to break down during digestion. In some cases, gluten may trigger an immune response.

People intolerant to gluten may experience symptoms ranging from gas, cramps, or diarrhea to gut damage and nutrient malabsorption (3, 4, 5).

People with celiac disease or wheat allergy should avoid all gluten-containing grains, while those with a gluten sensitivity can choose either to reduce or completely eliminate this protein from their diet.

Coconut flour offers an alternative to wheat or other gluten-containing flours.

It’s also naturally grain-free, making it a popular choice for those on grain-free diets, such as the paleo diet.

Summary Coconut flour is free of gluten. This makes it a great alternative for people with celiac disease, wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Coconut flour has a diverse nutrient profile and may offer a range of health benefits.

That said, few studies have directly examined coconut flour. Its potential benefits are based on research on its nutrients or beneficial compounds.

Rich in nutrients and beneficial fats

Coconut flour offers a variety of nutrients, including healthy fats. A 1/4-cup (30-gram) serving contains (6):

  • Calories: 120
  • Carbs: 18 grams
  • Sugar: 6 grams
  • Fiber: 10 grams
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Iron: 20% of the daily value (DV)

In addition to being very rich in fiber, coconut flour provides medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and plant-based iron.

MCTs are a type of fat linked to several benefits, such as weight loss, protection against bacteria and viruses, and enhanced brain and heart health (2, 7, 8, 9).

Keeps blood sugars stable

Coconut flour is packed with fiber, which may help keep your blood sugar levels in check.

A 1/4-cup (30-gram) serving provides a whopping 40% of the DV for fiber, or 3 and 10 times more than the same quantity of whole-wheat or all-purpose flour, respectively (6).

Foods rich in fiber help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing down the speed at which sugar enters your bloodstream.

This is especially true for foods rich in soluble fiber, which forms a gel during digestion. Coconut flour contains small amounts of this fiber (10, 11).

It also ranks low on the glycemic index (GI), meaning that breads and baked goods made from it are less likely to spike blood sugar levels (1, 12).

May promote healthy digestion

The high fiber content of coconut flour may also benefit your digestion.

Most of its fiber is insoluble, which adds bulk to stools and helps move food smoothly through your gut, reducing the likelihood of constipation (13).

Additionally, coconut flour boasts small amounts of soluble and other fermentable fibers, which feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut.

In turn, these bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like acetate, propionate, and butyrate, all of which nourish your gut cells (1, 14).

SCFAs may also reduce inflammation and symptoms linked to gut disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (14, 15, 16).

May improve heart health

Coconut flour may also benefit heart health.

Research shows that consuming 15–25 grams of coconut fiber daily may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by 11%, LDL (bad) cholesterol by 9%, and blood triglycerides by up to 22% (1).

What’s more, coconut flour provides lauric acid, a type of fat thought to help kill the bacteria responsible for plaque buildup in your arteries. This plaque is associated with heart disease (2).

Yet, other studies suggest that lauric acid may have no effect on or even raise LDL (bad) cholesterol, so lauric acid’s effect on cholesterol may vary by individual (1, 17, 18).

May help you lose weight

Coconut flour may help you shed excess weight because it offers both fiber and protein, two nutrients shown to reduce hunger and appetite (19, 20).

In addition, coconut flour contains MCTs, which are less likely to be stored as fat because they travel directly to your liver, where they’re used for energy production (21).

MCTs may also reduce appetite and are processed by your body differently than longer-chain fats found in foods like olives and nuts. This difference may help you burn slightly more calories (22, 23).

However, this effect is likely small. In a review of 13 studies, replacing longer-chain fats with MCTs helped participants lose only 1.1 pounds (0.5 kg), on average, over 3 weeks or more (24).

Keep in mind that the weight loss effects of MCTs usually require consuming much larger amounts than typically available in coconut flour.

May kill harmful viruses and bacteria

Coconut flour is rich in lauric acid, a type of fat that may fight certain infections.

Once ingested, lauric acid forms a compound known as monolaurin. Test-tube research shows that lauric acid and monolaurin may kill harmful viruses, bacteria, and fungi (2, 25).

For example, these compounds appear especially effective against infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and Candida albicans yeast (2, 26, 27).

However, more research is needed in humans.

Summary Coconut flour may promote stable blood sugar levels and a healthy heart. In addition, it may have antibacterial properties and aid digestion and weight loss, though research in these areas is limited.

Coconut flour can be used in a variety of recipes, both sweet and savory.

You can substitute it for other flours when making bread, pancakes, cookies, muffins, or other baked goods. Just be mindful that coconut flour tends to absorb more liquids than other flours. For this reason, it cannot be used as a one-to-one replacement.

For best results, start by substituting 1/4 cup (30 grams) of coconut flour for every cup (120 grams) of all-purpose flour. You may also want to try increasing the total quantity of liquids by the amount of coconut flour you added.

For example, if you used 1/4 cup (30 grams) of coconut flour, make sure to pour in 1/4 cup (60 ml) of additional liquids.

Remember that coconut flour tends to be denser than other flours and doesn’t bind as easily.

Bakers often recommend that you mix it with other flours or add 1 egg for each 1/4 cup (30 grams) of coconut flour to help give your end product a fluffier texture.

This unique flour can also be used as breading or to thicken soups and stews. What’s more, you can use it as a binding agent in burger or veggie loaf recipes, as well as to make grain-free pizza crust or wraps.

Summary Coconut flour can be used in a variety of recipes, including baked goods, pizza crusts, wraps, soups, stews, burgers, and meat and veggie loaves.

Coconut flour is often compared to other gluten-free flours, such as almond, hazelnut, amaranth, and chickpea flours.

Although all are rich in nutrients, their nutrition profiles vary greatly.

Alongside chickpea and amaranth flours, coconut flour is among the lowest in fat and richest in carbs (6).

At 6 grams per 1/4 cup (30 grams), it offers slightly less protein than chickpea and almond flours but around the same amount as hazelnut and amaranth flours.

Notably, it boasts 2–3 times more fiber than these other gluten-free flours. It’s also milder in taste and a potential alternative to almond and hazelnut flours for those allergic to nuts.

Moreover, coconut flour tends to be lower in omega-6 fats — which people tend to consume too much of — than other gluten-free flours (6).

This is important because diets too high in omega-6 fats and too low in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats are thought to contribute to inflammation, which may increase your risk of disease (28, 29).

Summary Among gluten-free flours, coconut flour is highest in carbs and lowest in fat. Nonetheless, it’s much richer in fiber, lower in omega-6 fats, and milder in taste.

Coconut flour is a gluten-free flour made solely from coconuts.

Rich in fiber and MCTs, it may promote stable blood sugar, good digestion, and heart health. It may also boost weight loss and fight some infections.

Plus, it’s delicious and versatile, making it a smart choice when choosing flour alternatives.