Coconut flour can have a lower carbohydrate of about 17-30.4 percent difference as compared to regular or all-purpose flour, depending on which brand you buy! Your calorie intake can quickly pile up if you eat bread, biscuits, pizza, muffins, cookies, and pasta on a daily or weekly basis.
If lowering your carb content right away is as easy as just swapping an ingredient out for a healthier option, why not? Our ethos is all about making bite-size changes that are simple to do. Let’s be clear that we are not out to make all-purpose flour look bad. Not at all. It still works great with all of your baking goods.
This article is for you if you’ve been looking for a healthier alternative to traditional grain-based flours and explains why and how you can replace coconut flour in your baking successfully.
For those of us who have a sedentary lifestyle, doing something easy like a mere food replacement that does not require much effort, other than just reaching out for another flour in the supermarket aisle sounds like a pretty good start to us.
Table of Contents
- What is the carb difference between coconut flour vs all-purpose flour?
- Our Small Scale Research
- What is Coconut Flour Used For In Baking?
- Benefits of Baking With Coconut Flour
- Where does coconut flour come from?
- Can you substitute plain flour with coconut flour?
- How to replace all regular flour for coconut flour?
- How to Make Coconut Flour from Desiccated Coconut?
- How to Make Coconut Flour from Shredded Coconut?
- How to store coconut flour?
What is the carb difference between coconut flour vs all-purpose flour?
In terms of health benefits, being naturally gluten-free is the main advantage that coconut flour has over all-purpose flour which is great news for anybody with gluten allergy or nut allergies and celiac disease. It can also be lower in carbs and we’ve found out that it can be much as a 30% difference!
And how did we come to that conclusion?
We did it through a small scale research by comparing the carbohydrate content in coconut flour with the one found in regular wheat flour. It is by no means an exhaustive research for labelling coconut flour an overall healthier flour but we do need to take something for comparison and we have chosen to use carbohydrate content as our method of measurement on how healthy it is compared to all-purpose.
Disclaimer: We have chosen the brands below purely out of statistics pulled from Statistica and bestreviews.guide. We are in no way associated with any of the brands mentioned nor have we received any form of payment from them to write this post. We are in no way out to make one better than the other, we are just presenting the data and drawing our own conclusions from it. Please do your own research before embarking or taking on anything we may have suggested or written in this post.
Our Small Scale Research
What brands have we chosen and why?
- We wanted brands that were not too hard to find from any good supermarket or grocery store and they must be easily purchased online. One of the most popular flour brands based on statistical information of 2019 did not have a coconut flour option as part of their manufacturing line so we have not chosen that brand in our line up.
- The brands that we will be comparing needed to have an all-purpose flour and coconut flour in their production line. By comparing between the 2 flour types within the same brand, we can safely show a more accurate carbohydrate content difference while eliminating brand bias. From there, we can then determine the healthiest coconut flour option among the 3 selected brands. Then for added measure, we will compare that coconut flour result with the top 2 favourite coconut flours brands based on latest consumer sentiment. We are trying to look just how healthy is coconut flour compared to all-purpose flour and in the end, find out which coconut flour has the lowest carbohydrate content that we can find with this little research.
- The top brands below were picked based on Statistica that calculated the figures based on US Census data and Simmons National Consumer Survey (NHCS)
- Pillsbury Baking
- Walmart’s Store Brand: Great Value (we have chosen Walmart as it is currently the largest retailer in the US and it has its own store brand)
- King Arthur Flour
For data comparison, we have used the nutritional facts of these brands from either the USDA’s Food Data Central or from the manufacturer’s website. The manufacturer’s labels tend to provide different serving sizes. Therefore, in order to standardise them for comparison purposes, all servings have been configured to reflect a serving of 100g and the figures have been rounded up to their closest estimations.
Why calculate carbs instead of fat?
According to the FDA, research has suggested that that the type of fat we consume is more important than the amount.
And if you are on a keto diet, fat content is generally the component you would want to focus and build up on while reducing your carbs and having moderate protein to the tune of:
- Carbs (5% to 10% and fewer calories)
- Protein (30% to 35% calories)
- Fat (55% to 60% calories)
Furthermore, carbohydrates primarily will be stored as fat if it does not get used up so we should at least try to minimize that from happening, especially if our lifestyle is primarily sedentary.
Calculating Full Carbs vs Net Carbs
The example of a nutrition facts label above, has the highlighted area that shows where total carbohydrates in grams are located and these are measurements we have taken from each of our chosen brands. In this case, total carbohydrates is 6g.
We have chosen to use the configuration of total carbohydrates instead of calculating it as net carbs. Total carbohydrates includes fiber and sugars (naturally occurring total sugars and added sugars). If we were to do that, the carbohydrate content figures would be lower, making it a bigger difference because according to this article we would need to subtract the fiber content. However, everybody absorbs carbohydrate, sugar alcohols and fiber a little differently and some may encounter a less accurate reading if they use the net carbs calculation when they are undergoing a keto diet program, diet restrictions or pre-exisiting conditions.
Therefore, counting all the carbohydrates makes it a more general rule of thumb but if you’d prefer to count them as net carbs and have determined that it is the more suitable method for you, then by all means do so.
It’s time to get technical…
So dust off that old mathematician side of your brain and here we go or just scroll down for the “at a glance” graphics table or chart version.
We will be able to see a much clearer comparison by standardising each measurement as per 100g by using this formula:
Total Carbohydrates(g) ÷ Serving size(g) X 100g = amount of carbs(g) per 100g
Carbohydrates in g per 100g comparison between all-purpose flour and coconut flour within the same brand
|Pillsbury Best||Great Value||King Arthur|
The Results Of All-Purpose Flour vs Coconut Flour
Just by comparing some of the most recognizable brands in the market with this little exercise, the results clearly show that coconut flour has a lower carbohydrate content as compared to their all-purpose flour equivalent.
Out of the 3 brands, King Arthur Coconut Flour looks like it comes in at the lowest carbohydrate content at 53.33g per 100g, making it 12.5% lower than Walmart’s Great Value version and 15.4% lower than Pillsbury Best Organic Coconut Flour.
However, King Arthur’s Unbleached All-purpose Flour comes in at almost a 30.4% difference, if comparing their carbohydrate intake of 76.67g per 100g for their all-purpose flour and 53.33g per 100g for their own coconut flour respectively.
This means that if you are already using King Arthur’s all-purpose flour and want to pick a healthier choice, just by switching to its coconut flour can greatly reduce your carb intake by a massive 30.4%!
But how does King Arthur Coconut Flour compare to some of the other popular coconut flour brands based on the latest products and data analyzed from major online marketplaces and retailers?
As of writing this, we’ve taken the top 2 favorite brands for coconut flour and see how they stack up to King Arthur’s version. They are;
- Healthworks Coconut Flour, comes in at 56.25g per 100g of carbs.
- Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour calculates a 64.29g per 100g carbohydrate content.
|Healthworks||Bob’s Red Mill||King Arthur|
The Results Of Top USA Brands Of Coconut Flour
King Arthur Coconut Flour does seem to be the best coconut flour, beating out the other top 2 favourite brands for the lowest carbohydrate content with a 20.55% difference, if comparing it to Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour and a difference of 5.48% if compared to Healthworks Coconut Flour. It’s only a marginal difference but it may make some difference if you need to be on a strict diabetic or keto diet.
Just conducting this little exercise, it does show that coconut flour is healthier than all-purpose flour by providing a lower carbohydrate content overall. This is by no means an exhaustive search but it’s a start and hopefully this post would have helped you to narrow down the brand that you’re most comfortable in buying in terms of carbohydrate content and availability.
Furthermore, we have not done our calculations based on net carbs due to our explanation earlier. If you do wish to calculate net carbs, just keep in mind, that the resulting calculations will show a bigger difference but the conclusion that coconut flour has a lower carbohydrate content than all-purpose flour still remains to be true.
From here, we have established how and why coconut flour is healthier than regular all-purpose flour but how to replace coconut flour successfully in our baking is a bit trickier.
What is Coconut Flour Used For In Baking?
Believe it or not, coconut flour can be used as an alternative to wheat flour for your baked goods and still taste delicious. This includes:
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Cheesecakes and cakes
- Banana bread
- Breakfast bars; just to name a few.
However, it does come with a big caveat, provided you know how to rejig the measurements of both dry and wet ingredients from what was originally meant for all-purpose flour to coconut flour.
Outside of the realm of baking, it is a great substitute for wheat when coating meats like chicken and fish and other proteins.
Benefits of Baking With Coconut Flour
Made from the fruit of the Cocos Nucifera palm tree, there are numerous benefits from coconut flour in baked goods:
Coconut flour is one of the popular alternative flours to regular wheat flours for those who follow a grain-free diet due to issues with digestion or a gluten sensitivity. It is also a nutrient-dense, creamy substitute for dairy and nut products. It may help support heart health due to its lower carb content that can help moderate blood sugar levels too. It is a high source of fiber, making it a healthier option in baking. Both soluble and insoluble fibers assist your digestive health in helping to prevent constipation and even benefits a diverse gut microbiome. Merely 30 grams of coconut flour has 10 grams of fiber that can offer support to your digestive system. It is also a great source of protein that contains some essential amino acids, potassium and plant-based iron.
Coconut oil is well-known for offering numerous skin benefits. The fat in coconut oil helps in reducing the pores and preventing skin damage from bacteria and dirt. It also has skin toning properties that can prevent the risk of acne.
The high content of dietary fiber in coconut flour helps in reducing and maintaining your weight over time. The healthy fat and protein keeps you fuller and reduces the chances of overeating and cravings.
Flours that are high in carbs have the tendency of spiking the insulin and blood glucose levels, which can gradually enhance the systemic inflammation and free radicals in your body. Coconut flour has a low glycemic index as compared to white flour, making it a healthier choice, which is why it is popular in the keto baking and cooking.
Where does coconut flour come from?
Even though coconut flour is versatile, it can also create challenges when being used in baking.
It is highly absorbent, and even a small quantity can absorb high amounts of liquid. It has a drying effect on baking goods, which is why it is essential to make adjustments to the recipe accordingly if you are substituting regular flour with coconut flour.
Can you substitute plain flour with coconut flour?
The short answer is yes, you can.
However, it isn’t as easy as substituting just your plain flour for coconut flour in your baking ingredients. If the recipe originally uses plain or an all-purpose, you can’t simply make a direct substitution of the measurements for coconut flour. The end result of your baked goods will be far less satisfactory because if the recipe does not use enough wet ingredients, your finished product will turn out dry.
The main challenge is that coconut flour doesn’t act in a similar way as all-purpose flour since it is highly absorbent, has a more rustic texture and tends to create a denser product. So you’ll need to adjust for extra liquids and eggs in your wet ingredients for the recipe to get it just right. For some recipes, you may even require the need for binders or thickeners such as xantham gum.
There’s going to be a lot of testing that goes into it and may even require other ingredients like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and some minor adjustments to baking times.
And for those who may not like the rustic or sweet flavor of coconut, other flours like almond or cassava that are a bit more neutral in flavor or even use a little of natural sweeteners such as erythritol or stevia, can help mask that coconut taste. The ratios for these dry ingredients in producing a successful baked good is going to be crucial.
How to replace all regular flour for coconut flour?
There is a tip that asks you to use about ¼ cup of coconut flour + 1 egg = 1 cup of all-purpose flour and another that recommends ⅓ or ¼ cup of coconut flour without eggs = 1 cup of all-purpose flour as a general rule of thumb.
When working with coconut flour recipes, it is essential to remember that a little goes a long way.
- Start out with ⅓ or ¼ cup of coconut flour as equal to 1 cup of wheat flour.
- Thoroughly sift the coconut flour before using it.
- Enhance the number of eggs as well as the amount of liquid you use in the recipe.
- Use a binder, like gelatine or xantham gum to give your baked dessert some body and stops it from crumbling.
- Separate your eggs and beat the flour with egg yolks while beating the whites separately and folding them in later. This step helps in enhancing the natural heaviness of the baked goods.
You could try any or all of these modifications to your baking recipe but even professional bakers have mentioned that you’ll be better off using recipes that have already been tried and tested unless you’ve got plenty time, patience and passion to experiment and modify your traditional recipes. You may want to start off with simpler recipes such as pancakes or muffins before trying your hand at more complicated ones like breads or cakes.
Recipe book method
Save yourself the time and your sanity by getting yourself a proven method with Kelley Herring’s Keto Desserts recipe book that uses recipes with almond and coconut flour for baking. Don’t make the mistake I did by using almond meal for one of the recipes because it just created a seriously dense product that was almost equivalent to a stone! That goes the same for unblanched almond flour that is almonds that have been crushed with their skins still on. According to Kelley Herring’s introduction in her Keto Breads and Keto Desserts, the best form of almonds for baking is finely ground blanched almond flour.
Baking mix method
By now, you must be thinking, this is all too hard and would rather leave the recipe developments to the professionals or you could be thinking, isn’t there a mix version out there that you could try that is made of almonds and coconut that is not going to taste like cardboard?
Thankfully, there are.
- Artisan Bread Mix by Simple Mills
- Miracle Bread by Wellness Bakeries
- Keto Pancake & Waffle Mix by Birch Benders
- Miracle Mix by Wellness Bakeries
- Pancake Mix & Waffle Mix by Simple Mills
How to Make Coconut Flour from Desiccated Coconut?
What is Desiccated Coconut?
Desiccated means dried and with no moisture, which means that desiccated coconut is a coconut pulp that has been completely dried out. You can either dry it out using the oven or leaving it out in the open air.
You can also use desiccated coconut if you’d prefer a more moist coconut flour. Some recipes complain that coconut flour is a little too crumbly.
All you need is two cups of coconut pulp and an airtight jar for storage. Here is how you can make coconut flour using desiccated coconut:
- Start by preheating the over to 120˚F and place parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Spread the coconut pulp on the sheet and place it in the over.
- Bake for about 45 minutes or until the pulp is completely dried (desiccated).
- Remove from the oven and leave it for a few minutes to cool.
- Use a high-quality blender or food processor to process the baked coconut pulp until it becomes a fine powder
- Transfer it into an airtight container.
Use it in any of your keto baking.
How to Make Coconut Flour from Shredded Coconut?
What is shredded coconut?
Shredded coconut is strands of coconut pulp and looks like grated cheddar cheese. It is also dried, but not as completely dried like desiccated coconut.
Making coconut flour from shredded coconut is rather easy; all you need to do is:
- Put all the shredded coconut in a blender.
- Process until it becomes a fine powder.
- Store in an airtight container.
How to store coconut flour?
Coconut flour must be stored in a dark, cool place. It must be kept away from heat sources, like sunlight. Make sure to place it at a low temperature, below room temperature is good enough and in the pantry. A fridge or even the freezer is best if you plan to keep it for longer than 6 months.
Coconut flour does not keep as long as all-purpose flour because it oxidises faster due to its natural oils and fat content.
Therefore, if you bake occasionally, it is probably best to just buy what you need instead of in bulk. This way you will always have a fresh batch instead of a rancid one.
Coconut flour is highly absorbent so to prevent any moisture from entering the flour, keep it in an airtight container.
After this little research, you may consider choosing coconut flour as the substitute for wheat based flours because it is a low-carb option for those with gluten intolerance and loaded with minerals, high in proteins and fiber. It is also an excellent source of healthy fats.
This research is by no means an exhaustive one as we were only looking at the carbohydrate content as our measure of a healthier alternative and as a subsitute for wheat. That term can be different for others who do need more carbohydrates if they have a more active lifestyle or pre-exisiting conditions. Instead of focusing on a single nutrient content, we would need to see overall wholesomeness of the food for an overall healthier conclusion.
We have even determined how coconut flour is healthier by showing how much lower carbohydrate content it has when compared to its all-purpose flour counterpart and even comparing that between different brands. So making the switch is easy, as it is normally only an arms length difference at the supermarket aisle or just a click away online.
However, one downside in using it, means it is going to take quite a bit of experimenting if you wish to embark on the DIY method of modifying your recipes to low-carb, keto dessert recipes despite some of our helpful tips. Even professional bakers recommend going down the tried and tested path. Of course, if you are still keen and have the passion to go on some recipe development, then go for it!
If you are a bit like us who’d rather take the guesswork out of the keto baking with coconut flour, you might want to check out Kelley Herring’s cookbooks that use both coconut and almond flour recipes in her Keto Desserts cookbook.
We certainly have tried and tested some of these recipes already and they do deliver on the promise of tasting like the real deal!
Don’t forget, moderation is the key as things that are healthy can easily turn the tables on you if consumed in large quantities either over a short or long period of time.
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Eve Mayhew is a stay-at-home Mum, graphic designer and wife who takes more of a relaxed and practical approach to health. She prefers to live a more stress-free life and enjoys food and drink in moderation by counting her blessings rather than counting the calories or feeling guilty over the odd soft drink or fast food fix every now and then. (Contact Author)