Whole wheat flour is typically thought of as the highest fiber option for baking. But have you ever wondered which flours have the most fiber that aren’t whole wheat? You may be surprised at how many high fiber flours there are.
If you walked the flour aisle of your supermarket around, say, oh, I don’t know… maybe February 15th, 2020 you may have grabbed a bag of all-purpose wheat (or maybe not) and went about your merry way.
That same trip a month later probably had you stopping and staring at a very different-looking shelf. Flour shortages popped up all over the country, and many bakers picked up bags of flour they’d never even heard of before. (They also spent plenty of time honing their sourdough skills. It’s not too late to try your hand at it. I have this helpful post on Sourdough Basics to get you started.)
And while this particular post isn’t as much a baking primer for all types of flours, it should give you a better picture of what you’re dealing with in terms of the nutrition content of the various alternative flours available at your local market. Most notably, this post is a look at the overall fiber content of each.
As more and more recipes are developed using alternatives to whole wheat flour, it’s important to know how that flour fits into the nutrition advice I’m always sharing with anyone who will listen: “Eat More Fiber.”
Many flours are very rich in fiber, some even more so than whole wheat. [See chart below.] Whole wheat will always be a wonderful source of fiber and nutrients for people who aren’t gluten-free. But knowing how many visitors to this site prefer gluten-free baking recipes, I thought this flour insight would be helpful to share.
How important is fiber?
A high-fiber diet is crucial for bowel health, can help lower cholesterol, and can help stabilize blood sugar.
Specifically, when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, fiber is an important, yet often underappreciated, piece of the puzzle. The reasons why range from the overall satisfying effects of a fiber-rich meal to the more microscopic changes that happen within the gut microflora. While fiber is the part of a plant that your body can’t digest, it’s actually the ideal food/fuel for the bacteria living in your gut. Want a healthy gut? Feed it fiber.
What are the basic types of fiber?
- 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 sources include whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes.
I tell you about both of these because, in addition to the different roles they plan in your overall health, they also function differently when you cook with them. Soluble fiber tends to be more viscous and binds together in baked goods. Insoluble, not so much. If you think about the pieces of “whole grain” you see/taste/touch in a piece of whole wheat bread, that’s mostly the insoluble fiber saying hello. Both are beneficial, but it’s good to know the difference because they can affect your baking success differently.
Often you’ll hear health experts recommend choosing whole wheat flour instead of white flour in baking as an easy way to add more fiber to your diet. And while this is absolutely true, why not explore all of the other flours that can boost your fiber intake as well?
In his book, Fiber Fueled, Dr. Will Bulsiewicz discusses the importance of plant diversity in the diet. What better way to begin diversifying your plant intake than trying a new flour in your favorite baking recipe?
Which flours have the most fiber?
Here’s a breakdown of the fiber content of some of the most popular flours (per 1/4 cup serving unless noted):
- Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) Flour: 5g
- Whole Wheat Flour: 4g
- Oat Flour: 4g (*per 1/3 cup)
- Almond Flour: 3g
- Brown Rice Flour: 2g
- Quinoa Flour: 2g
- Coconut Flour: 10g [Note: Coconut Flour requires a totally different approach to baking. But I did want to mention how FIBER filled it is.]
Ideas for what to bake with alternative flours:
Almond Flour Recipes
Brown Rice Flour Recipes
Chickpea Flour Recipes
Coconut Flour Recipes
Grain Free Pumpkin Pancakes by ChelseyAmerNutrition
Oat Flour Recipes
Quinoa Flour Recipes
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