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?
“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:
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