This grain in its whole state is rich in nutrients such as; B vitamins, folic acid, and iron which the body uses for nerve and metabolic support. Additionally, its carbohydrate component is the number one macronutrient for energy.
Unfortunately, there are many individuals that cannot consume wheat either due to celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or a wheat allergy mostly due to the protein found in wheat called gluten. Some people also choose not to consume wheat maybe because they are managing their weight or blood sugar, following a Paleo diet, or for other health and lifestyle reasons.
Regardless, here are some common alternatives to wheat flours that are also gluten-free.
- Chick Pea (Garbanzo) Flour
- Corn Flour
- Potato Flour
- Quinoa Flour
- Brown Rice FlourAs a matter of fact, foods can have the same carbohydrate amount but have a different value on the glycemic index. Low glycemic foods tend to covert carbohydrate more efficiently to glucose and are used slower by the body as opposed to higher glycemic foods such as potatoes or corn.Most grains contain vitamins and minerals naturally but are also enriched with a complex of B vitamins, folic acid, and iron when processed into flour or made into cereals. Vegans tend to appreciate the many plant based flours especially chick peas as they are commonly used as a substitute for eggs in a recipe. Depending on your paleo type, rice may be consumed occasionally according to the guidelines for “Primal Paleo” eaters.If you’re not up for do it yourself (DIY) recipes there are a variety of foods such as; pastas, breads, and snacks that are made from non-wheat flours that can be purchased at most supermarkets and grocery stores.
- Many people can benefit from alternative wheat fours for a variety of reasons;
- Flavor profiles vary from nutty to bland and are very subjective to individual taste. You can use alternative wheat flours in cooking and baking but should check replacement measurements for substitutions in recipes. There may be other ingredient adjustments you will need to get desired taste, texture, and nutrition.
- However, potato and corn flours have their benefits as well since they are made from whole potatoes or whole corn and are lower on the glycemic index with much greater nutritional value then their starches. In processing potato and corn starches, only the starch component is extracted from the corn or potato which leaves their powdered form yielding only calories with very little nutritional value.
- There is no “healthiest” flour. Some are slightly higher in one nutrient and lower or different in another. From a carbohydrate standpoint, all are pretty equal in grams per ounces. However, if measuring the glycemic response for blood sugar or weight management, the better choices would be the higher protein, higher fiber, lower glycemic index grain flours such as; chick pea, quinoa, and brown rice.
- People who have gluten or wheat allergies or intolerances
- People on special diets like blood sugar or weight management
- People following vegan or paleo lifestyle
- Anyone for any food, nutrition, or culinary reason
- Visit Planet Organic Market to learn more about wheat flour and wheat flour product alternatives.
By: Jeanne M. Maglione, MS, RDN