Health benefits of coconut flour

Published July 3, 2020, 10:00 PM

by Nelly Favis Villafuerte

Part 2 (Last Part)

Do you know that coconut flour does not contain gluten?  Gluten is the protein found in many grains such as wheat (including durum, semolina, kamut, spelt), rye, barley, and oats.  ‘Gluten’ comes from the Greek word for glue and its adhesive properties hold bread and cake together.  Although gluten is the main ingredient of bread that makes it light and fluffy, some people are allergic to it and their digestive system seem unable to tolerate it.  A disease called celiac sprue, celiac disease or gluten-sensitive enteropathy is now affecting 1 out of every 133 people in the United States.  Celiac disease is a condition whereby the lining of the small intestine is damaged by gluten.  The damage to the small intestine causes malabsorption of many important nutrients, resulting in weight loss and vitamin and mineral deficiencies – which can lead to a variety of health problems in the gut, the bloodstream, the brain, the joints, cardiovascular and endocrine systems.

Not many know that gluten-sensitivity is a permanent condition.  A complete lifelong abstinence from gluten is the only known effective treatment.

While coconut flour does not contain gluten, it does not lack protein.  Coconut flour has more protein than enriched white flour, rye flour or corn meal and has about the same protein content as buck wheat and whole wheat flours.

  • Do you know that the milling and bleaching process used today on whole grains of wheat to convert it to “white” flour removes some twenty-two important nutrients from the bread, including fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Coconut flour is naturally cream in color.  Unlike refined white flour from wheat which has to be subjected to a bleaching process to make it color white, coconut flour does not undergo any bleaching process.

  • Do you know that the processing of whole grains of wheat to white flour takes approximately twenty steps.  Refined white flour is pure endosperm or starch.  By undergoing processing, both the highly nutritious bran and the wheat germ of whole grains have been removed, along with approximately 80 percent of the wheat’s nutrients.  Not only are the nutrients removed during processing but the milling process involves high temperatures that the remaining grain is damaged by oxidation and at the end of the refining process, the color of the wheat flour is grayish.  And in order to make the gray flour “white” in color, (so as to look more edible and appealing), it is subjected again to a bleaching process that utilizes chemical agents such as chlorine dioxide, acetone peroxide, or bensoyl peroxide (similar to clorox).  No wonder we have the popular saying from some nutritionists: “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’re dead.”  The bleaching process destroys what little vitamin remains in wheat flours.  The bleaches also react with fatty acids to produce peroxides that are toxic and can cause free-radical reactions.
  • Do you know that another rare and interesting advantage of coconut fiber, not found in other fibers is that it has the capability of expelling intestinal worms.  In some coconut-growing countries, it has been observed that people who eat sufficient amounts of coconut meat can expel over 90 percent of intestinal parasites within 12 hours.
  • Do you know that you can enjoy the high fiber benefits of coconut flour by simply adding coconut flour to the food that you normally eat everyday.  For example, you can add a tablespoon or two of coconut flour to your smoothies, fruit shakes, soups, casseroles.  You can easily increase the fiber in your diet by 9 or 10 grams by simply adding a few tablespoons of coconut flour in your day to day foods.
  • Do you know that there is a certain technique of using coconut flour in baking?  In the book “Cooking with Coconut Flour” by Bruce Fife, N. D. (available in National Book Store and other bookstores), Dr. Fife says that generally you cannot use 100% coconut flour in bread recipes that are designed for wheat flour.   In typical bread recipes, you need to combine coconut flour with wheat flour, rye or oat flour – and generally replace up to 10% to 20% of the wheat flour with coconut flour.  Also, coconut flour absorbs more liquid than other flours because of its very high fiber content of coconut flour.  Dr. Fife suggests too that for every cup of coconut flour, an equal portion of water (1 cup) or other fluid should be added.
  • Do you know that there are some recipes where 100 percent coconut flour can be used.  These recipes are found in the book of Dr. Bruce Fife titled “Cooking with Coconut Flour.”  These recipes were developed through a process of trial and error.

Many bakers in our country are now experimenting on some bread recipes using partly coconut flour and partly wheat flour.

Have a joyful day!

(For comments/reactions please send to Ms. Villafuerte’s email: [email protected]).