Coconut has been traditionally cultivated for its raw coconut meat, oil, milk, water and most recently for its flour. The Philippines is now the largest coconut producing country and was first to produce flour as a byproduct from its production of coconut milk. The growing demand for the use of natural, non-toxic plants as medicinal aids to prevent and treat illness has highlighted the various health benefits of consuming coconut products.
Many researchers now recommend the addition of coconut flour to supplement any healthy diet because of its many benefits including antibacterial and antifungal properties. Whether you are on a strict paleo diet, seeking an allergy free flour source or you simply desire to stimulate your digestive and immune system, coconut flour is an excellent addition to your meals and a pantry staple.
What is Coconut Flour?
Producers of coconut flour originally sold the nutritious coconut milk byproduct to farmers in the form of coconut meal. Farmers understood that coconut meal was an excellent source of organic fertilizer and animal feed supplement. As more research emerged supporting the numerous health benefits of coconut flour, human consumption of the valuable superfood also increased in the past few decades.
Coconut flour is derived from grating the meat of fresh coconuts. The meat is then dehydrated and defatted which means the oil is extracted. The result is a fine powder that looks and feels similar to wheat or grain flours. The most pure and organic form may even fool a seasoned foodie because of its lack of coconut flavor.
Coconut Flour: A Functional Food
Coconut flour has different health benefits than those of other coconut products such as the oil for instance and it offers a great alternative to conventional flour. Considered a functional food, coconut flour exhibits properties that significantly benefit health and is a valuable source of nutrition. This functional food is a great source of dietary fiber, is high in protein, does not contain gluten and has a low glycemic index (GI).
Coconut flour is especially recommended for those with inflammatory issues that result when wheat or gluten is consumed. Coconut flour is safe for consumption in individuals with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, leaky gut syndrome, as well as those with diabetes.
Coconut Flour Nutrition
Although much research still needs to be conducted regarding the many health benefits coconut flour promotes, studies support that the nutrition in the coconut meat is not lost in the process of converting it into flour.
Coconut flour is a source of electrolytes because it is rich in ions such as manganese, calcium, selenium, phosphorus, and potassium. These minerals have been shown to lower blood pressure and aid in the elimination of toxins from the body.
Coconut flour can thus be considered a chelator because of its ability to remove metals from the body. The two minerals in greatest concentration, phosphorus, and potassium, are necessary minerals with many functions including supporting bone and nerve health as well as a healthy digestive system.