Flour Alternatives from Holland & Barrett
Refined white flour. Its hard to avoid it in our western diet and its not necessarily very good for you and some of us need to avoid it altogether. Luckily Holland & Barrett offer many alternatives to the standard white flour and offer advice on which flour is best for certain health problems…
Refined white flour is in many food favourites: bread, cakes, pasta, biscuits and even some breakfast cereals. This can make food shopping and cooking very difficult for people who suffer with intolerance and even those who aren’t intolerant should try and avoid eating large quantities of food containing white flour due to the negative health affects.
So, what is refined white flour?
Flour is made from whole grain which is made up of the bran, germ and endosperm. The bran is rich in fibre, antioxidants and B Vitamins. The germ is high in B vitamins and also contains minerals, protein and fat. The endosperm is the starchy part and is mostly made up of carbohydrates. When white flour is made, the bran and germ are removed leaving only the endosperm. This means that all the nutrients are stripped and all that is left are carbs which can be bad for our health. [source]
What are some of the negative effects of consuming refined white flour?
Clinical Nutritionist, Josh Gitalis says: “Vitamins and minerals in our food normally aid the workers (enzymes) of our bodies. When we remove these nutrients from what we consume, we must get them from somewhere else in order to properly metabolize food. Our tissues become the reluctant donors, and this eventually leads to a vitamin and/or mineral deficiency, which eventually leads to a health condition. When we eat things that contain white flours, we are taking more “health dollars” out of the “health bank” than we are depositing”
Here are some of the ways that refined white flour can impact our health [source]:
Weight Gain + Obesity. White flour doesn’t contain the micro and macronutrients we need to feel satiated and full.
Blood Sugar + Diabetes. Refined white flour has a high glycemic index, which is a scale that rates the speed at which a food increases blood sugar levels.
Cardiovascular Disease. Studies show that consuming large amounts of refined grains boosts our risk of heart disease.
Digestion. Whole grains are packed with fibre, which helps to keep us regular and eliminate unwanted toxins through our bowel movements. When we eat refined white flour, we aren’t receiving those digestive benefits.
So, do i need to avoid flour all together? What what will i do without cake?!
The good news is there are many alternatives, here are a few from Holland & Barrett and their associated health benefits:
Rye flour: People have been noshing on this grain since the Middle Ages – and with good reason. When used in baking, it contains much less gluten than wheat or barley and holds on to more of its vitamins and nutrients when milled. It contains phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and iron, and heart-friendly dark rye flour has been proven to help regulate cholesterol levels and significantly lower obesity.
Spelt flour: Bronze Age Europeans were on to something when they began to cultivate spelt. It’s thought to do wonders for our immunity as it’s high in thiamine, which helps to maintain muscle tone on the walls of the digestive tract, where much of our immune system is located. It also contains iron – essential for digesting and absorbing nutrients from food. Like its close relative wheat, spelt flour does contain gluten, but seems to be more easily tolerated.
Quinoa flour: The ancient Incas called it ‘the mother of all grains’ and who are we to argue? OK, so they were wrong about the grain bit, it’s actually a non-grassy plant that’s used like a cereal, but it sure packs a punch nutritionally. Naturally gluten-free, it’s known as a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, and is also high in fibre. NASA declared quinoa the perfect food for a long voyage in space, so time to tuck in, Earthlings!
Up your fibre intake
Rice flour: We all know when it comes to rice, brown is up there with the best. Brown rice flour has the husk intact, providing insoluble fibre that helps waste material move through the intestine, so encourages regular bowel movements. This naturally gluten-free flour could aid weight loss too, as a fibre-rich diet helps reduce hunger pangs and helps you feel fuller for longer.
Regulate your blood pressure
Coconut flour: Naturally gluten-free, coconut flour is made from coconut flesh, which is then dried and finely ground. Although it does contains saturated fat, it’s made of medium-chain triglycerides, shown to reduce abdominal obesity and increase the metabolism. Researchers found substituting regular flour with coconut when baking lowers the glycaemic index; its high fibre content means it doesn’t cause the spike in blood sugar that can occur with regular grains. Look for coconut flour – without sweeteners or sulphites – to add flavour to cakes and bakes, and a velvety texture too.
Help lower blood pressure
Almond flour: Ancient traders snacked on the sweet nuts from the wild almond trees growing on the Silk Road that connected central China with the Med, and the humble almond has been treasured since Biblical times. The flour is made from blanched almonds (with skins removed), which are then finely ground and sifted. Almonds are packed with magnesium, which can help lower blood pressure. Use almond flour instead of sugar and wheat for great low-carb, naturally gluten-free desserts and cakes.
Buckwheat flour: Don’t be confused by the name, this seed flour has nothing to do with wheat. Traditionally only popular in Asia, we are finally waking up to the benefits of buckwheat in the West. It’s full of nutrients and antioxidants, so much so it’s known as a ‘superfood’, and is said to clean and strengthen the intestines and improve appetite. It is gluten-free, with a naturally sweet flavour that makes it a great base for pancakes, muffins and quick breads. So, buck up and get baking with buckwheat!