Should We Soak Coconut Flour?

by Ann Marie Michaels on November 2, 2011

Print Friendly

Coconut (halved)

A lot of people have been asking me if we should soak coconut flour. There have been a lot of blog posts lately about the fact that coconut flour has phytic acid.

Phytic acid blocks mineral absorption, including important minerals such as calcium, zinc and magnesium. So it is best to sprout, soak and/or ferment grains, nuts, seeds and legumes that contain phytic acid in order to reduce it prior to consumption.

For more on how to reduce phytic acid, please see this post: Do Bread & Cereal Cause Cavities? Reversing Dental Decay with Food.

Should We Soak Coconut Flour?

It is not necessary to soak coconut flour. Coconut flour does have phytic acid, however, according to Bruce Fife, ND, author of The Coconut Oil Miracle and Cooking with Coconut Flour:

“Phytic acid occurs in nuts and seeds in two forms — phytic acid and phytic acid salts [Reddy, NR and Sathe, SK (Eds.) Food Phytates. CRC Press, 2001]. Both are generally referred to as “phytates.” Together, these two compounds make up the total percentage of phytates reported in various foods. However, they do not possess the same chelating power. So the chelating effect of the phytates in corn, wheat, or soy are not the same as those in coconut. You cannot predict the chelating effect based on total phytate content alone.

The mineral-binding effect of the phytates in coconut is essentially non-existent. It is as if coconut has no phytic acid at all. In a study published in 2002, researchers tested the mineral binding capacity of a variety of bakery products made with coconut flour. Mineral availability was determined by simulating conditions that prevail in the small intestine and colon. The researchers concluded that coconut flour has little or no effect on mineral availability.” (Trinidad, TP and others. The effect of coconut flour on mineral availability from coconut flour supplemented foods. Philippine Journal of Nutrition 2002; 49:48-57). In other words, coconut flour did not bind to the minerals. Therefore soaking or other phytic acid-neutralizing processes are completely unnecessary.

Soaking has been suggested as a means to reduce the phytic acid content in grains and nuts. Some suggest coconut flour should also be soaked. To soak coconut flour doesn’t make any sense. The coconut meat from which the flour is made, is naturally soaked in water its entire life (12 months) as it is growing on the tree. To remove the meat from the coconut and soak it again is totally redundant. After the coconut meat has been dried and ground into flour, soaking it would ruin the flour and make it unusable. You should never soak coconut flour.

In the tropics coconut has been consumed as a traditional food for thousands of years. Those people who use it as a food staple and regard it as ‘sacred food,’ do not soak it or process it in any way to remove the phytates. It is usually eaten raw. This is the traditional method of consumption. They apparently have not suffered any detrimental effects from it even though in some populations it was served as their primary source of food.” (Source: Weston A. Price Foundation Wise Traditions Journal, Fall 2011 — to subscribe to the journal, click here to become a WAPF member)

Thank you, Bruce Fife!

I don’t know about you, but this is such a relief to me! I think I’ll go make some coconut flour pancakes for breakfast.

Coconut Flour Recipes

Here are some of my favorite coconut flour recipes:

Coconut Flour Bacon Egg & Cheese Muffins
Coconut Flour Blueberry Muffins
Coconut Flour Bread
Coconut Flour Brownies
Coconut Flour Pancakes

There are lots more great coconut flour recipes in Bruce Fife’s book, Cooking with Coconut Flour.

Where to Buy Coconut Flour

You can find coconut flour on my resources page.

Photo credit: Coconut (halved) by SingChan, on Flickr
Disclosure: cmp.ly/4 and cmp.ly/5

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

AMAZON DISCLOSURE: The owner of this website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com.

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Alison November 2, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Thanks for clarifying!

Reply

Brenda Scott November 2, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Great post, thanks for sharing this Ann Marie! :)

Reply

Andy November 2, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Glad to hear it.

“To soak coconut flour doesn’t make any sense. The coconut meat from which the flour is made, is naturally soaked in water its entire life (12 months) as it is growing on the tree.”

Makes perfect sense!

Reply

Tiffany @ The Coconut Mama November 2, 2011 at 4:22 PM

Thank you! I’ve been researching this for a long time and have found very few answers. I will worry no more!

Reply

sarah November 2, 2011 at 4:28 PM

whew! Thanks so much, this is great info!

Reply

Bebe November 2, 2011 at 6:22 PM

I just love good news… thanks!

Reply

Food Renegade November 2, 2011 at 9:00 PM

I read my Wise Traditions Journal from cover to cover, and I was SO EXCITED to see Bruce Fife’s letter in there. After reading Rami’s article in the Spring issue I got concerned about the phytic acid in coconut, and I was glad for Bruce’s answer to the question!

Reply

Gabriella November 2, 2011 at 9:18 PM

Good to know!

Reply

Marci B November 3, 2011 at 3:18 AM

Here is an interesting article on Phytic Acid.
http://info.breadbeckers.com/phytic-acid/

Reply

Mary Jo November 3, 2011 at 6:02 AM

Marci,
Thanks for linking this article. I LOVE the practical reasoning bent on this and tend to agree with what she has to say, especially
“If seeds were allowed to sprout, they could not be stored, resulting in no seeds for next year’s crop and no food for the winter.”
I know a Jewish historian and will inquire on this subject.
There really just isn’t enough science yet to back up the idea that soaking whole grain flours is more beneficial that non-soaking. Please post if there are recent studies!
(This coming from a mom who has soaked/sprouted for years and also has used grains unsoaked)

Reply

cheeseslave November 3, 2011 at 7:23 AM

I have read that article before and there are a lot of holes in it.

1) Her claim that grain did not traditionally sprout in the fields is based on ONE source. I don’t know enough about traditional methods of harvesting grains but one guy saying they didn’t do it that way is not enough to refute that argument.

2) She says: “I have never read anything to document the statement about our ancestors and ‘virtually all pre-industrialized people’ soaking their grains.”

She must not have done very much research because there is a ton of information out there to substantiate the fact that traditional people soaked their grains.

And then she goes on to talk about sourdough as a traditional practice. What does she think sourdough is? It’s a way to soak grains!

3) She says: “The entire amount of flour used was not soaked or allowed to ferment, only what was necessary to make their yeast.”

So what? MOST of the dough is soaked. It’s irrelevant that not ALL of the dough is soaked. Besides, she doesn’t have a reference for this.

4) “I enjoy the flavor of sour dough and first learned to make bread using a sour dough starter. But I enjoy the convenience of bakers yeast and see no difference in the method of bread making through out history and the way I make bread today, except that I do not have to grow my yeast.”

Just because she sees no difference doesn’t mean there isn’t one. She should provide a reference to prove that there is no difference. Yeast breads are not fermented for a long period of time (minimum several hours) like sourdough breads are.

5) “Through out history many civilizations have indeed had numerous fermented foods as part of their diet. The fact that many ancient cultures ate a fermented bread of some sort, however, does not mean that all bread has to be fermented.”

This is true. But it’s a silly argument. She’s overlooking the REASONS that traditional cultures soaked grains. All you have to discover why traditional people soaked grain is read about the Americans who adopted the Latin American tradition of eating corn. When Americans started eating corn (the grain) they did not soak it like people in Mexico, Central and South America had for centuries.

In the early 1900s, for example, in the American South, people were using corn more frequently in their cooking for corn breads, corn grits, and the like. However, unlike our neighbors south of the border who were soaking grains, Americans were not soaking it. As a result, we saw an epidemic of Pellagra — 100,000 afflicted in 1916.

After that, people in America started mixing corn with lime and letting it soak, just like they do traditionally. And the Pellagra epidemic came to an end.

http://www.cheeseslave.com/2009/11/17/why-soak-and-sprout-grains/

This historical fact leads me to believe that throughout history, people probably learned by trial and error what worked and what did not work when it came to food preparation. There is a reason that squirrels bury nuts before they eat them. It is the same reason — they are letting them ferment in the ground (just like dogs do with bones).

6) “One must remember that the fermentation of foods was chiefly a preservation method. Fermenting grains also offered a variety of texture, flavor, and aroma.”

OK, yeah that may be true but so what? Just because people fermented foods mainly for preservation does not negate the fact that fermented foods are healthier for us.

7) “In fact, a nutritional study done on Ogi, a fermented African corn bread, showed that there were considerable losses in protein and calcium during the fermenting of Ogi.”

OK there she goes again, citing evidence that people traditionally fermented their grains. Which she stated before she could find no evidence of.

And so what if ogi has less protein and calcium after it is fermented? Grains are not a good source of protein and calcium and that is not the reason people eat grains. Grains are typically eaten with foods that are high in calcium and protein. Ogi, for example, is traditionally eaten with high-protein foods such as beans, peanuts, eggs, meat and fish.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_African_cuisine

In other cultures, it’s a common practice to eat cheese with bread, or meat or fish with rice.

8.) “Common breakfast cereals, such as oats were often soaked overnight. Before the process of rolling oats came along to shorten the cooking time, oat groats could take several hours to cook to obtain a nice creamy texture. Soaking the groats overnight shortened the early morning cooking time. Our ancestors were logical people. To imply that they soaked or fermented grains because of some innate sense that it was more nutritious is sheer speculation.”

There she goes again, claiming that people soaked their oats when she stated earlier that she could find no evidence of this.

Just because soaking oats made them faster to cook does not mean there were not also nutritional benefits. Whether or not our ancestors somehow knew this is irrelevant. They still soaked their grains. She is not citing any evidence that there are no nutritional benefits in doing so.

9) “Of the many essential nutrients needed by your body to promote health and life, there are only four nutrients deficient in wheat, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D and the amino acid lysine. When grains and beans are sprouted, there is some loss in protein, but vitamin A content increases by 300% and vitamin C by 500%. In fact sprouted grains were used on long ocean voyages to prevent scurvy. Limes, and lemons would eventually rot, but the storable grains would last the duration of the voyage and could be sprouted at any time. Sprouted grains can also be more easily tolerated by those who can not digest gluten.”

Now she is defending sprouting. ?! I don’t understand this article.

First she says sprouting wasn’t done, then she says it was. She says there’s no reason to sprout, then she cites all the nutritional benefits of sprouting.

10) “Aware of phytic acid’s mineral binding properties, Shannon states that an adequate diet will more than compensate.”

This is vague. What does that mean, “an adequate diet will more than compensate”? Before I found traditional foods and started eating soaked/sprouted whole grains, I had chronic cavities which I no longer have and a chip in my tooth (which has since filled in). Maybe we can live on unsoaked grains but what toll does this take on our health?

11) “One must also remember that whole grains themselves are an abundant source of iron, calcium, and zinc.”

Yes, but what is the point of eating whole grains to get these minerals if the minerals cannot be absorbed due to the phytic acid?

I could go on because there are more flaws in this article but I’ll stop here.

Reply

ImaTo6 November 3, 2011 at 11:39 AM

This is why I *HEART* you and your blog of great wisdom!!! Always inspired- thank you, dear Mz.Cheeseslave!

Reply

Tammy November 4, 2011 at 8:37 AM

would it be safe to say you disagree with the article? :)

Reply

cheeseslave November 4, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Hahaha Tammy! :-)

Reply

Gabi November 8, 2011 at 4:27 PM

I love how you took the time to make this into a “reading with a critical eye” exercise…it’s so important to encourage that! (Shameless plug: I did a post a little while ago on the topic of critical thinking during research using a highly annoying example…check it out if you have time: http://www.radicallynatural.com/2011/09/sifting-information-with-critical-eye.html)

And thanks for posting about this topic…not needing to soak coconut flour. I think soaking can be confusing/frustrating for some and it’s great to add to the growing body of knowledge in our traditional foods community.

Reply

christina November 3, 2011 at 4:01 AM

Bob’s Red Mill Almond flour – has this been soaked you think?

Reply

Pavil, the Uber Noob November 3, 2011 at 5:55 AM

If it doesn’t say so, then no. Besides, its always better to do it yourself, then you know its been done right.

Ciao, Pavil

Reply

cheeseslave November 3, 2011 at 6:42 AM

No I don’t think any commercial coconut flour has been soaked. And it is not necessary to soak your coconut flour.

Reply

Tammy November 4, 2011 at 8:57 AM

i soak & dry nuts first and then make the meal or flour.

Reply

Kaye November 3, 2011 at 4:03 AM

I lived in the Caribbean till I was 13 then moved to the UK where I continue to reside [62 this year]. And yes coconut was/is and remains a major part of the local diet. I might add when I go visit, and discuss the health benefits, they all look amazed – the main reason it is used, being that it adds such flavour to a host of meals. Local coconut oil also is not used for the usual assumed reasons, instead they use all the hydrogenated baddies. And yet talking to older people, they used to boil the pulverised coconut with water until the oil appeared – which they would decant and bottle for their use.

And Coconut flour is definitely not a part of the local repertoire. The real nut is usually pulverised in a blender – squeezed for the milk which is added to both savoury and sweet recipes. The remaining husk stuff used to add to flour for coconut flatbreads [called 'bake'] and my favourite little coconut dumplings to add to split pea and smoked pork soup [plus a whole host of other recipes].

I am doing a month of grain-free, and missing my usual home-made sour-dough rye bread. I made coconut bread – looked great, but not sure re the taste, and also introduced a whole lot of gas interestingly. I am just not sure re the processing of the nut to such a high degree suits me personally. Yet with my grain-free month I have been quite happily snacking on the raw coconut without any gassy disturbances!

Reply

cheeseslave November 3, 2011 at 6:41 AM

@Kaye That sounds wonderful!

I’m not sure what you mean when you say “I am just not sure re the processing of the nut to such a high degree suits me personally.” Do you mean when they make the coconut flour?

You can make your own coconut flour. Just use coconut flakes (unsweetened) and cook it with water until you get coconut milk. Strain the coconut milk and save for another use. Then take the leftover pulp and dry it in your dehydrator or in the oven at the lowest setting and then grind it fine.

If you had gas, it may be due to the fiber. Coconut flour is very high in fiber.

Reply

Kaye November 3, 2011 at 10:55 AM

You are right! Will try making my own flour instead of using the bought coconut flour – that should help with digestion. And thinking about the fibre and gas you mentioned – interestingly when I eat the nut just cracked, there is no gas – so yes – will definitely try doing my own flour to see what happens. Thanks for reminder re making my own.

Reply

Pavil, the Uber Noob November 3, 2011 at 5:52 AM

I had been soaking coconut flour with whey to get the rise affect with the application of baking soda. I suppose now, at least for coconut flour, I don’t have to worry about pre-soaking.

Ciao, Pavil

Reply

cheeseslave November 3, 2011 at 7:36 AM

What is wrong with baking soda?

Reply

Kim November 3, 2011 at 6:29 AM

Thank you sooo much for posting this!! It feel much better about using coconut flour now without worrying about those pesky phytates!

Reply

Meagan November 3, 2011 at 8:52 AM

Haha. I like your last comment. I wanted to make coconut pancakes this AM but decided against it… putting yogurt in a bowl with nuts is so much easier!

Reply

Linda November 3, 2011 at 9:06 AM

I almost didn’t read this because I am not soaking one more thing! LOL Still, it’s good to know it isn’t necessary.

Reply

Nickole@savvyteasandherbs.com November 3, 2011 at 7:47 PM

I SO need to get on the bandwagon with this coconut flour craze. It just sounds so pricey! On another note, do gluten free flours need to be soaked? Like the potato starch, tapioca starch, and sorghum? I have not found this info anywhere…

Nickole

Reply

cheeseslave November 3, 2011 at 8:54 PM

I don’t think that potato starch or tapioca need to be soaked. Sorghum I think does need to be soaked.

The cheapest way to get coconut flour is to make it from coconut flakes. You use the coconut flakes to make coconut milk, then use the leftover pulp to make flour. Double duty! I’ll have to post these recipes on the blog sometime.

Reply

Andy November 4, 2011 at 7:29 AM

Phytic acid may have some benefits for what it’s worth.
http://www.lucastafur.com/2011/10/is-phytate-really-problem.html

Reply

Tina November 4, 2011 at 1:30 PM

Thank God!!!! Rami Nagel scared me when he said coconut flour is high in phytic acid, something I just couldn’t believe. If coconut flour was another thing to worry about, I would have lost it :)

I will go ahead and make coconut flour pancakes and baked goods with a free conscience!

Reply

Tina November 4, 2011 at 1:45 PM

I don’t think she should be entirely discredited though. I looked her up and she has done pretty extensive research on real food as well. Alot of health issues in her family were cleared up by her turning to real food and making things from scratch etc….

I think on issues in general, we should consider things from all points of view. This site is amazing and it has helped me so much with food knowledge and awareness – love it! Yet at the same time, I’m not going to make myself crazy avoiding this and that, and fretting over phytic acid. Nothing is guaranteed about health. I know someone who was a leading example of a Weston Price follower and she died of cancer last year. I grew up eating commercial bread, pasta and cereal every day (the quickest things for my mom to feed 5 children!) and none of us ever got cavities. Our health, our life…in the hands of God alone :)

Reply

Tammy Rodriguez November 4, 2011 at 2:56 PM

you are very right, Tina. eating right is only part of good health.. peace of mind, a clear conscience, happiness… a right relationship with God.. not necessarily in that order… are all also KEYS to health.

Reply

cheeseslave November 4, 2011 at 5:13 PM

If you’re talking about the woman who wrote the article linked to above, I’m not discrediting HER as a person. I’m just discrediting the article she wrote. Big difference. I’m sure she’s a nice lady!

As far as why you never got cavities eating commercial bread, white flour, pasta and cereal do not have phytic acid since they are made from refined flour.

Reply

Mallie November 4, 2011 at 5:43 PM

I think what Tina meant was that maybe the woman’s article/research shouldn’t be discredited completely. But that any issue should probably be considered from all angles. I’m sure the author has valid points as well. But I’m not one to judge either since I’m not as well informed as others.

I had the same upbringing. I ate “bad food” all my life from pasteurized dairy, junk food, refined, processed oils, white flour and such and I’ve never had bad symptoms or health issues. No cavities, got pregnant without problems, had good pregnancies and healthy children who thrived. Who knows, it may catch up with me later :) But I do agree that nothing is a guarantee. Balance is key. Definitely make healthy choices with food for sure, but don’t go crazy over it and stress. Life is too short for that.

Just my two cents :)

Reply

cheeseslave November 5, 2011 at 9:24 AM

If she has valid points, she should make them.

Sorry, but for me, logic prevails. Making an argument without evidence to back it up is illogical.

As far as you eating “bad food” your whole life and still doing OK, how old are you? My parents are like that. They are relatively healthy considering the crap they grew up eating. Please read Deep Nutrition by Dr. Cate Shanahan: http://astore.amazon.com/cheeseslave-20/detail/0615228380 In the book she explains why this is true. Also look at the Pottenger’s Cats study: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPCOGSnjP5w (about 3 minutes in)

The bad food may not catch up with you in this lifetime, but it will impact your kids and grandkids.

Reply

Mallie November 5, 2011 at 2:39 PM

I’m 36 years old. Just started changing my diet two years ago and started with my kids as well (age 2 and 15 months).

Reply

Jesse M November 6, 2011 at 7:52 PM

Just made some coconut flour pancakes this morning – soooo yummy!!!

Reply

Carmen Roa November 11, 2011 at 2:07 PM

Good to know. I was hoping for this answer :)

Reply

Mike F January 8, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Another ‘rule of thumb’ I’ve heard with regards to anti-nutrients in nuts is the harder the shell the better for our digestion. The premis being is that antinutrients are to prevent digestion, however foods with very hard shells, waulnuts, almonds, coconuts, etc. have developed less antinutrients since it relies on the protection of the hard shell.

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 8 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: