White flour has been a part of our everyday lives, whether we notice it or not.
It’s in our bagels, sandwiches, baked goods, pizza, pasta, and more. What we don’t think about is how unhealthy it is to consume this much of white flour.
Why Is White Flour Bad for You?
Refined white flour has very few natural vitamins and minerals. Not only are the good-for-you aspects of the whole grain stripped away, but bad-for-you things like preservatives and high fructose corn syrup are added.
Even enriched white flour doesn’t have all the healthy components of whole-grain flours, and since it’s absorbed by the body as starch, its energy is used up quickly rather than slowly and effectively.
Although white flour may not taste sweet, it can lead to the same problems caused by eating too much-refined sugar:
- Increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol
- Higher risk of some cancers and inflammatory diseases like arthritis
- Risk of fatty liver disease
- Suppressed immune system
- Fatigue, depression, anxiety, hypoglycemia, and other health problems
A study found that women who ate bad carbs — like those with white flour — are twice as likely to develop heart disease.
Instead, try some healthier alternatives to white flour.
1. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is a gluten-free powdery flour that’s made from coconut pulp that’s dried out and then ground up. It’s high in fiber, protein, and has better digestible carbs than white flour. It has a lower glycemic index, which means it converts the carbs into sugar in your blood at a slower rate and is less likely than white flour to cause blood sugar spikes.
Coconut flour is also really dense and absorbs a lot of moisture, which makes it tough to get a light, fluffy texture when you bake it. It’s recommended to combine it with other flours or adding it to other foods like yogurt.
Although it requires more liquid, it also requires less sugar from the natural sweetness coconuts have. Using it as a coating for seafood is another good use.
2. Almond Flour
This grain and gluten-free flour are usually made with blanched almonds that are finely ground.
Almond flour offers more protein, healthy fat, and vitamin E than white flour, and is a great alternative for baking dense baked goods like brownies. Although almond flour sounds like a smart alternative, it’s also one of the most expensive flours out there.
3. Chickpea Flour
Made from dried garbanzo beans that are finely ground, chickpea flour is high in protein, fiber, B vitamins, and selenium. A ¼ cup has about five grams of fiber and six gram of protein. It’s great for adding texture and holds together pretty well, making it great for making crepes, pancakes, breads, or dumplings, but some people might not like the nutty and earthy taste.
4. Quinoa Flour
Quinoa flour is high in protein (a ¼ cup yields about four grams), and can be used in muffins, pancakes, and breads, and is a good alternative for people who can’t have wheat. But it doesn’t hold its shape as well as other flours, so combining it with other flours might be a good idea.
5. Brown Rice Flour
Made from ground brown rice, this flour has a similar texture as white flour but contains more fiber. It’s also high in B vitamins, iron, and manganese, a mineral that helps your body connective tissue and bones. When first switching to alternative flours, this is a good one to try since it’s pretty easy to work with and doesn’t have a strong flavor.
6. Pumpkin Seed Meal
Pumpkin seed meal is gluten-free, nut-free, grain-free, and can be used to thicken soups and to add a nutty flavor to recipes. It contains a wide variety of nutrients like magnesium, manganese, copper, protein, and zinc.
7. Buckwheat Flour
This flour is made by grinding buckwheat groats, which are seeds, making this gluten and grain-free. Buckwheat has high fiber content to improve digestion, disease-fighting antioxidants, and helps with heart health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Like with many things, there are healthier alternatives for you to try everywhere. Baking and cooking with different flours can be tricky, but with a little research and trial and error, you can get a hang of it in no time.
Let us know what your favorite alternative is and why!