Most people today use white flour and wheat flour, neither of which are good for your health. Most white and wheat flours are bleached, contain gluten (to which many people have an allergy) and are hard on your digestive system—plus, there are a number of side effects from using white and wheat flour.
The good news? There are all-natural, great-tasting flours that have been used for thousands of years with which you can replace white or wheat flour. Here are my top seven picks:
1. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is a great replacement for white and wheat flour. Coconut flour is high in fiber and healthy fats, so if you’re looking to go on a lower-carb diet, to try a Paleo or vegan diet, or to lose weight fast, one of the best things you can do is start using coconut flour.
The health benefits are superb. For instance, coconut flour’s high levels of healthy saturated fats are used by the body for energy and help support a healthy metabolism, balanced blood sugar levels, and more. Coconut flour also assists in creating a healthy blood sugar level, since it carries a low glycemic load and doesn’t spike blood sugar levels. In fact, studies published in the British Journal of Nutrition show that consuming products that contain coconut flour can help lower the overall glycemic impact of the food and support stable blood sugar levels.
Coconut flour also helps with healthy digestion, has a high nutrient density, and can aid in heart health. Studies show that coconut flour has the ability to help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and serum triglycerides in people who have raised cholesterol levels. Coconut flour has this effect as result of its high supply of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber and its healthy MUFA fat content.
2. Basic Gluten-Free Flour
You can also buy general gluten-free flours. They use garbanzo bean flour, aka chickpea flour, along with sorghum flour and potato starch. Gluten-free flours actually have a great texture and work as an all-purpose baking flour. Typically, one cup of white flour or one cup of wheat flour is equivalent to one cup of most gluten-free flours. You can find gluten-free flours in almost any local grocery store.
3. Sprouted Flour
Now, let’s talk a little bit about sprouted flour. This is a gluten-free, sprouted, yellow-corn flour. If you want to make homemade cornbread, this is the flour to use.
Sprouting is when you take a grain and soak it anywhere between 12 to 48 hours. This kills off phytic acid in the grain. Phytic acid is what binds to minerals. If you buy whole-wheat bread today, you’ll notice that the package says “contains riboflavin,” which is vitamin B2, and mentions a few other vitamins. When you consume this bread, you’re not actually absorbing those vitamins because they’re bound to phytic acid. This deceptively nutrient-rich mixture will just passes right through you.
However, when you sprout a grain, phytic acid is killed off. All the minerals and vitamins are now free to absorb and digest. That’s why Ezekiel bread and other sprouted grain breads are better for you than regular breads.
If that’s not enough of a reason to consider sprouted bread, keep in mind that wheat gives you a belly because it’s difficult to digest. It may also can cause leaky gut symptoms and inflammatory issues within your body.
4. Spelt Flour
Spelt flour is both organic and vegan. There’s some debate on whether or not spelt flours should be considered gluten-free. Either way, we know the sprouting process actually helps digestion. Due in part to its fiber content, spelt flour bread is rapidly digestible, according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Not only does the dietary fiber present in spelt flour help with digestion, it also helps the body naturally lower cholesterol levels. Fiber targets LDL (bad) cholesterol and eliminates it from the body in order to regulate the balance of fatty acids. A study published in 1991 by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine evaluated the blood cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber. After a 51-week treatment period, where participants were given a fiber supplement daily, there were clear, positive results.
5. Oat Flour
Next is gluten-free, sprouted oat flour. Many people wonder, “Are oats gluten-free?” If you purchase natural oats, they can definitely be gluten-free. The other night, I made homemade chocolate chip raisin oatmeal cookies with oat flour and absolutely loved them. This flour is even better than regular oats in terms of digestibility—the nutrients, including all the vitamins and minerals, you find in oats are easier to digest in the form of gluten-free oat flour.
6. Rice Flour
Brown rice flour is another gluten-free flour. Rice flour tends to be easily digestible as it is non-allergenic for a lot of people. Even though I prefer the sprouted flours more, brown rice flour is a great alternative. And if you’re loathe to give up pasta, brown rice pasta is probably the closest simulation.
7. Almond Flour
Finely ground almond meal flour is as nutritious as the seed from which it originates. Nutritious almonds are packed with L-arginine, magnesium, copper, manganese, calcium, and potassium. Studies published in Nutrition Reviews show almonds have a consistent “bad” LDL cholesterol-lowering effect, especially in individuals with high cholesterol and diabetes.
Almonds are also a high-fiber food and contain certain types of healthy fats. Almond flour is great for baking and can be used to coat meal components like chicken tenders before cooking.
You’re going to see that going gluten-free is actually easier than you think. Plus, you'll reap major health benefits from doing so. Try these seven gluten-free flours to start and head to the ALOHA Recipe Center for fresh inspiration.
This article was originally published on draxe.com.
Photo Credit: iStock