Photo Credit: The Food Prepper
~by Lindsay Livingston, RD
Editor's note: I asked Lindsay to author this piece to help put some perspetive on how using alternative flours in recipes affects the overall fiber content of the dish. As more and more recipes are developed using alternatives to whole wheat flour, it's important to know how that fits into the recommendation to eat "more whole grains," which is based not only in the extra nutrients contained in the whole grain, but also the fiber content. Many flours, while not grains at all, are very rich in fiber, some even moreso than whole wheat [See chart below.] Whole wheat is still a wonderful source of fiber and nutrients for people who aren't living gluten-free. But knowing how many of our readers prefer to use alternative flours, I thought this perspective would be helpful. Let us hear from you! What are your favorite fiber-rich flours to cook with?
When it comes to healthy living and weight loss, fiber is an important, yet often underappreciated, piece of the puzzle. To put is simply, fiber is all of the parts of plant foods that your body can't digest. It can be broken down into two forms: soluble and insoluble.
- Soluble fiber dissolves in water and can help lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It is found in things like oats, barley, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits and carrots.
- Insoluble fiber helps move material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk. Good source include whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans cauliflower, green beans and potatoes.
A high fiber diet can help maintain bowel health, lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar and can also help you lose weight by keeping you full for longer periods of time. Women under age 50 should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day, men 38 grams.
One easy way to add more fiber to your diet is to choose whole grains whenever possible. For many people, this can mean swapping white bread for wheat bread or choosing whole wheat flour instead of white flour. However, when it comes to cooking and baking, it's important to realize that there are dozens of different kinds of flours out there. With the gluten-free trend on the rise, more and more alternative flours are being produced and gaining popularity and many of them are great sources of fiber.
Here's a breakdown of the fiber content of some of the most popular flours (per 1/4 cup serving unless noted):
- Whole Wheat Flour: 4g
- Almond Flour: 3g
- Brown Rice Flour: 2g
- Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) Flour: 5g
- Coconut Flour: 10g
- Oat Flour: 4g (*per 1/3 cup)
- Quinoa Flour: 2g
In case you're not quite sure how to use some of these flours, here are some recipes to get you started!
Brown Rice Flour
To learn more about gluten-free flours, grains and starches, read this article on CookingLight.com.