4 Healthful Reasons to Bake with Coconut Flour
Have you ever wondered why processed flour is so very white, yet the grain it comes from is brown? The main reason is that we really like the look of that clean, light white powder versus the darker, heavier look and feel of whole-grain flour.
To give their customers what they want, flour mills process the grain, stripping away the darker bran on the outside of the grain and the germ from the inside, leaving only the lighter coloured endosperm, which they grind into flour. Manufacturers use bleaching agents, with names like azodicarbonamide and chlorine dioxide, to make the floor even whiter. (To give you an idea of how harmful the bleaching agents can be, the European Union and Australia have banned the use of azodicarbonamide.)
The Problem with Processed Wheat Flour
Wheat grains are packed with lots of fibre and nutrients. Foods that combine good nutrition with healthy fibre are an ideal part of a balanced diet.
But the vast majority of the nutrition and fibre in wheat grain are contained in the bran and germ, which are the parts that are removed during processing.
As a carbohydrate, the remaining endosperm is a great source of energy. But without the other nutrition in the germ, and the fibre in the bran, that energy is converted very quickly by your body. That can spike your blood sugar levels, and increase your weight gain, when you eat processed flour.
Alternatives to Processed Wheat Flour
So what’s a person, who’s trying to eat healthier and manage their weight, to do? The first option is to use whole-wheat flour. It does not go through the same process as white flour, so it keeps much of the nutrition from the original grain, and it doesn’t pose the same threat of developing diabetes due to higher blood sugar levels.
But whole grains still have gluten protein, so they aren’t suitable for anyone on a gluten-free diet. Whole grain flour is also heavier and coarser than its bleached counterpart, which makes baked goods that come from it heavier and coarser too – similar to the differences between whole wheat bread and white bread.
So we are left with the question, is there a healthy, gluten-free option to processed wheat flour?
The Benefits of Coconut Flour
You have probably heard of all the health befits of drinking coconut water and coconut milk. The liquid inside a coconut is the water and coconut milk is squeezed from the white ‘meat’ that surrounds the water.
From high levels of protein to a number of nutrients and healthy fats, coconut water and milk have become popular refreshments for those on a weight training and/or weight loss program.
To get coconut flour, the meat of the coconut is dried after it is squeezed for the milk. Once dried, it is ground-up into a fine white powder, which looks surprisingly like processed wheat flour.
Cooking with coconut flour adds a hint of coconut flavour to foods, but it’s not overpowering and the health benefits far outweigh any difference in flavour.
1. It’s Gluten-Free
Anyone on a gluten-free diet will attest to the frustration of having to avoid so many foods simply because they are made with wheat flour. Simply by switching to coconut flour, you can begin to enjoy a host of baked treats that you thought would be missing from your diet forever.
2. It Has Lots of Fibre
Coconut flour has almost double the dietary fibre of wheat bran. Fibre helps to slow down your body’s consumption of carbohydrates, which makes coconut flour a safe choice for diabetics and those on weight-loss diets.
3. It’s High in Healthy Fats
The majority of the fats in coconut flour are ‘medium-chain triglycerides’, or MCTs, which have antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. They have also been linked with boosting your metabolism; which is another bonus for anyone trying to manage their weight.
4. It’s Packed with Protein
100 grams of coconut flour has a whopping 19.3 grams of protein, which is over one-third of the recommended daily protein intake for a 150 lb. Canadian adult.
As we all try to eat healthier diets, it’s important to try alternatives to our traditional cooking ingredients and methods. Maybe cooking with coconut flour isn’t for you. But, when you look at all the benefits of higher nutrition, suitability for weight loss and diabetic diets, and protein that builds fat-burning muscle, it’s at least worth a try. You can visit your local Herbal One Centre to learn more about healthy eating habits to help you meet all your weight loss and nutrition goals.