HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE
Health at Every Size - these are the buzz words around the internet these days. Are you healthy? Do you want to be healthier?
What is health? The World Health Organization defined health in its broader sense in 1946 as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Being healthier doesn't mean losing weight. To you it might mean:
- eating better (such as reducing processed foods)
- exercising/moving more
- stopping smoking
- working on that depression
We are very happy to announce that we have a Registered Dietician on staff who will be writing our Health At Every Size series as well as answering a reader's question each month. You can read about Shari's philosophy and experience on our staff page. If you have a question for Shari, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: This advice is not intended to be a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical, health or nutritional advice.
Coconut flour: The exotic flour you absolutely need to try
The first time I heard about coconut flour, I must say I was surprised. But once I tried it, I fell in love. So, I started digging around to learn more about this 'new' food.
What is coconut flour?
Don't worry; it's not some weird concoction. Coconut flour is simply coconut meat that has been dried and grinded into a powder or flour.
Health benefits of coconut flour
Coconut flour is naturally free from gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale.
You're probably thinking 'A dietitian promoting a fad???'
If so, you might be shocked to learn that numerous studies have linked gluten to various health conditions such as:
- Ataxia (a group of disorders that affect co-ordination, balance and speech)
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Autoimmune conditions like fibromyalgia, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and endometriosis
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Inflammation - this can increase the risks of obesity, heart disease and diabetes
- Skin conditions such as dermatitis
So, even if you don't have celiac disease, you might want to try a gluten-free diet for a month and see how you feel.
But keep in mind that 'gluten-free' does not equal healthy. Especially when it comes to most commercial gluten-free products that are loaded with sugar, gums, additives and syrups.
Unlikely to cause allergies
Since the coconut is not a true nut but a drupe, most individuals can safely consume it even if they have a diagnosed allergy to tree nuts such as peanuts, almonds or Brazil nuts.
However, keep in mind that, although extremely rare, a few cases of coconut allergies have been reported. So, if you suspect an allergy to the coconut, talk to your doctor before using coconut flour.
Could improve your metabolism
The metabolism refers to those essential biochemical reactions in the body (such as digestion and hormone production) which regulate how our cells use and store energy.
Thanks to the medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) naturally present in the coconut, eating foods made from coconut flour could enhance your body's ability to use fat as energy.
Plus, MCFAs have also been found to regulate appetite - try some coconut flour pancakes instead of regular pancakes for breakfast to see what I mean.
And MCFAs can protect your heart by preventing the hardening and narrowing of the arteries.
Improves blood sugar control
Since coconut flour is about 60% fiber, it can regulate the absorption of sugar in your blood. Plus, it also enhances insulin's function.
Of course, coconut flour is not a magical food. So, those recipes that call for a crazy amount of sugar or syrup will still cause your blood sugar levels to surge.
Naturally rich in fiber
Coconut fiber contains soluble fiber which provides food for our beneficial bacteria and helps them produce short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate.
Butyrate can help:
- Reduce inflammation which is the cornerstone for the development of most chronic diseases
- Improve insulin sensitivity and, thus, blood sugar regulation
- Enhance the immune system
- Improve stress management
- Decrease the risks of diseases like Alzheimer's
How to choose coconut flour
Select a product that is:
- 100% raw (not deodorized or bleached)
- Certified non-GMO
- Free from added sulfites or preservatives
How to use coconut flour
- Follow recipes - that's a surefire way to avoid wasting coconut flour
- Substitute 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup coconut flour for 1 cup grain-based flour
- Since coconut flour absorbs A LOT of water, you'll want to use 6 eggs and a cup of liquid per cup of coconut flour
Where to buy coconut flour
You could make your own - it's easy but quite time-consuming. Or you could just buy it in bulk here.
There are plenty of coconut flour recipes on the web - you can make coconut flour brownies, cookies, pancakes, breads, popovers and the list goes on. Plus, you can also add coconut flour to gravies and sauces to thicken them.
Now, I'd like to hear from you. Have you ever used coconut flour? If so, what's your favorite recipe.
Submitted by: Shari
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