In a world full of choices, it’s great to have options! So let’s talk about the different types of flours. I’m sure you can relate when I say, just about everyone has been in the grocery aisle and struggled with the question: what type of flour should I buy?! I feel you, because I totally have been there. When it comes to flours, there are so many different kinds on the market. This can make it increasingly difficult to nail down which ones are best for making certain recipes, and deciding which to use to achieve a certain taste/texture. Not to mention there is so much buzz around gluten free flours, it can be hard to nail down WHICH one if that’s the route you’re choosing.
The type of flour you need can depend on a variety of different factors. One of which ties back to allergens such as wheat. Did you know that according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, about 1 in 141 Americans has celiac disease? That means it’s very likely that you or someone you know might be battling with this disease. As you can see from the research it’s more common than you think. If you find yourself having stomach issues without finding a cause – talk to your doctor about getting checked for allergies. If you are someone who has celiac disease, or just a light to moderate gluten sensitivity, be sure to choose a gluten-free flour.
One thing to note about gluten free flour is… just because it’s gluten-free, doesn’t mean that it is necessarily the healthiest choice. It is a great option if your body can’t process gluten, but make sure to do your do-diligence and vet out a brand that you trust. The key things to look for are brands that offer simple, whole-food ingredients.
Here is a breakdown of the most common types of flours:
White flour- is relatively poor in many vitamins & minerals compared to whole-grain wheat because some of the most nutritious parts of the grain (the bran and germ) are removed during the refining process, leaving a lot of “empty” calories and sugars. Refined carbs are also digested quickly & have a high glycemic index which can cause spikes in blood sugar. Avoid this flour if you have Celiac or gluten sensitivity.
Wheat flour- Whole-grain wheat can be a better source of fiber, & vitamins & minerals like selenium, manganese, phosphorus, copper and folate than white. However the amount of minerals depends largely on what soil it was grown in & how it was processed. The protein in wheat flour mostly comes in the form of gluten, so if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, avoid this flour.
Coconut flour- is made of dried & ground coconut flesh. It has less fat & calories than almond flour, but more more carbs (over half of that is from fiber). It has a low glycemic index, so it’s less likely to spike blood sugar levels and is also grain & gluten free, making it a good choice for those on the paleo diet or w/ celiac disease/gluten intolerance.
Almond flour- is low in carbs, packed with nutrients and has a mildly sweeter taste than wheat flour. It is made by blanching almonds in boiling water (this remove the skins) and then grinding them into flour. Because it’s made this way, it is naturally gluten free and a great alternative for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. It’s also packed with nutrients like vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, & has a low glycemic index, meaning it slowly releases sugar into your blood & provides a sustained source of energy.
Rice flour- is a popular gluten free alternative to wheat flour. It has a decent amount of fiber (even more so if you opt for brown rice flour) but like white flour, can be highly processed and refined. I suggest going for brown rice flour, since it is higher in protein & fiber & rich in vitamins & minerals.
While there are many options available, these are just some of the flours I have used. Let me know which ones are your favorite and why!