If you’re venturing on a ketogenic diet or even if you’ve been low-carb for a while, you might be wondering about coconut flour nutrition.
Coconut flour shows up in numerous keto recipes, but is it actually good for you? Is it even low-carb? As it turns out, coconut flour is almost too good to be true — high in dietary fiber, healthy fats and protein, plus low in sugar and calories.
Get all the details on coconut flour, the nutrition benefits of this gluten-free, grain-free ingredient, and learn exactly how to use it.
What Is Coconut Flour?
Coconut flour is a byproduct of the coconut milk-making process. Once manufacturers separate creamy coconut milk from the actual coconut meat, they’re left with coconut pulp. The pulp is then dried and ground into a soft powder.
And since coconut flour is made from coconut — and nothing else — it contains a lot of the same health benefits.
Coconut Flour Nutrition: Health Benefits
There’s a reason coconut flour is popular with keto, paleo, and gluten-free enthusiasts. It’s the ideal flour alternative if you have food sensitivities and digestive issues like leaky gut or gut dysbiosis[*]. It’s also a creamy, nutrient-dense alternative to nut and dairy products if you suffer from sensitivities.
It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, low in calories, high in fiber, and versatile when it comes to cooking and baking. Here’s a quick look at coconut flour nutrition:
One serving size, or two tablespoons of organic coconut flour contains[*]:
- Calories: 124
- Total fat: 4.2g (3.9 of which is from saturated fat)
- Total carbs: 16.6 g
- Fiber: 10.5g (over 40% of your daily value)
- Sugars:1.9 g
- Net carbs: 6.1 g
- Protein: 4.9g
Coconut flour also contains key vitamins and minerals like manganese, calcium, and selenium. Beyond the macronutrients, below are four reasons why coconut flour helps support your overall health.
#1: May Help Digestive Health
Fiber is an important component of a keto diet. Both soluble and insoluble fibers help keep your digestive system moving, soften and bulk up your stools, and contribute to a diverse gut microbiome[*]. A fourth cup (or about 30 grams) of coconut flour has 10 grams of fiber, which can support your digestive system.
#2: May Help Keep You Slim
That high fiber content is also related to keeping your weight stable over time[*]. The protein and healthy fats in coconut flour also help keep you feeling fuller longer, which can prevent cravings and overeating[*].
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#3: Helps Balance Your Blood Sugar
Refined high-carb flours can spike your blood glucose and insulin levels, which, over time, can increase harmful free radicals and systemic inflammation[*]. Coconut flour ranks lower on the glycemic index than typical white flour.
The glycemic index ranks foods from 0–100 based on how much they are expected to raise your blood glucose levels, with 0 having no impact and 100 raising them exponentially.
In one study, 150 grams of coconut four — which could easily make an entire loaf of bread or batch of muffins — held a rank of 61, while just a single slice of white bread came in at 75[*][*].
High-fiber, low-carb flours, on the other hand, keep your blood sugar levels low[*]. And fewer spikes in blood sugar mean a healthier metabolism and less inflammation over time.
#4: More Energy From Healthy Fats
Coconut flour is also rich in healthy fats — mostly from medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs. MCTs are great for quick, easy energy because they bypass your normal digestive process and convert to energy quickly.
There are four different types of MCTs found in food:
- Caproic acid
- Caprylic acid
- Capric acid
- Lauric acid
The most abundant fatty acid in coconut products is usually lauric acid, making up 77% of the MCTs found in coconut oil[*]. Lauric acid is what makes coconut powerfully antiviral and antifungal, with the ability to kill harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi[*].
Fats from coconuts can also:
- Help with weight loss[*]
- Reduce hunger[*]
- Raise “good” HDL cholesterol[*]
- Improve brain function (specifically in people with age-related brain degeneration)[*]
Baking With Coconut Flour on Keto
Remember, fiber is a carbohydrate. So compared to other grain-free flours, coconut flour may look like it’s loaded with carbs at first glance. However, because of its high fiber content, it ends up being lower in total net carbs. You also might find that most gluten-free recipes don’t ask for a whole lot of coconut flour — a little goes a long way.
Coconut Flour Baking Tips
A quarter cup of coconut flour contains roughly 6 grams of net carbs. Again, this might sound high, but a quarter cup of coconut flour might be all a recipe needs. For example, if you bake an entire batch of cookies and only use a 1/4 cup of coconut flour, each cookie will contain just 0.5 grams of net carbs — not bad for something that satisfies your sweet tooth.
As long as you’re learning about keto baking, here are a few other tips you should keep in mind:
- Don’t use it as a direct 1-to-1 substitute for white flour: This is the number one mistake most people make when experimenting with keto baking. Coconut flour is much more absorbent than white flour, so it can be drying in baked goods. Don’t substitute coconut flour in a 1:1 ratio for white flour recipes. Instead, cut it down to about a fourth.
- Use a lot of eggs: Coconut flour is incredibly dense because of its high-fat content. To make the fluffy, tasty treats you’re used to, you’ll likely need more eggs to balance out the batter. Don’t be alarmed if a recipe calls for 4–6 eggs.
- Use a hybrid of flours: As a general rule, recipes that call for two types of flours are usually best. By using a combination of almond flour and coconut flour, you’ll find the texture to be most similar to “regular” baked goods.
Different Ways to Bake With Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is more versatile than you might think. For the most part, you can use coconut flour in place of white flour, and it won’t necessarily taste like coconut.
Use coconut flour as a high-protein, low carb option for:
- Breaded chicken fingers and other meat
- Muffins, pancakes, waffles, and other baked treats
- Grain-free pizza crust
- Low-carb bread
- Binding keto meatballs or meatloaf
- Thickening soups and stews
- Coconut-flour sandwich wraps
- Bulking up burgers
Coconut Flour vs. Almond Flour
Of the grain-free alternative flours available, almond flour and coconut flour are probably the most well-known.
Here’s how the two measure up against one another:
- Almond flour has fewer net carbs: A 1/4 cup serving of almond meal contains 160 calories, 14 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, and 3 grams of net carbs. This means it contains more fat, protein, and total calories than coconut flour, but fewer net carbs[*].
- Coconut flour is nut-free: For those with tree nut allergies, coconut flour is surely the better option. While it’s certainly possible to be allergic to coconut, nuts and tree nuts are ranked within the top seven most common allergies on the planet, and coconuts don’t fall in that category[*].
- Almond flour contains more omega-3 fatty acids, but coconut has more MCTs: Both coconut and almond flour contain healthy fats and both are great for your energy levels and brain health — they’re just different kinds.
We can’t definitively say that coconut or almond flour is better or worse for you. Both have advantages and disadvantages — it simply depends on what you’re looking for.
Plus, many keto recipes include a mixture of both flours.
Is Coconut Flour Keto-Friendly?
Coconut flour is a great substitute for regular white or wheat flour when it comes to keto-friendly baking. It’s also an excellent alternative to nut flours or other gluten-free flours that tend to have a higher carb count. For more recipe ideas using coconut flour, be sure to check out these low-carb baking ideas and get cooking.