No doubt by now you’ve heard of gluten and have likely seen many ‘gluten free’ products stocking the shelves in various stores. Gluten is a type of protein that plants produce to help protect their germ (seed) so that it can go on to replicate and pass on it’s genetics to the next generation. All grains carry various proteins, like gluten, which are called lectins. These lectins have been shown to be particularly inflammatory and damaging to our gastrointestinal tract, not only in those with celiac’s, but in almost everyone (especially when eaten at high concentrations like today’s modern diets). Unfortunately, many of the standard gluten free flours are still grain or pseudograin based flours which may not contain gluten but contain other lectins such as avenin (oats), orzenin (rice), as well as other damaging compounds such as saponins, phytates and protease inhibitors, among others. Many of these flours also still have a high glycemic load, which is detrimental to managing blood sugar and weight.
So what are the top flours to be used to avoid all these damaging compounds and not spike blood sugar?
Here are our top choices for gluten free flours:
1. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is a fantastic alternative to traditional flour. It’s high in fibre and other nutrients while still maintaining a low glycemic load.
2. Cassava Flour
Raw cassava flour comes from the cassava root, also known as yucca. Cassava is high in vitamin C but lower in other nutrients.
3. Almond Flour
Almonds are packed full of nutrients and unlike many other flours, have adequate amounts of protein. This flour is often much denser than others, so make sure to follow recipes closely.
4. Sprouted Flour
Many of the negative effects of the compounds mentioned earlier are removed from sprouting grains. If you are going the grain route, choose sprouted (and even better, soaked and fermented).
Amaranth flour is a great alternative as it is quite light and similar in consistency to wheat flour. It is also high in protein and many minerals. Although these flours are considered healthier options, remember that they are still refined flours, often used in baking recipes and desserts. So it doesn’t mean that you can go and eat gluten free foods at will. It’s always best to keep consumption of refined carbohydrates to a minimum, no matter the source. But whenever that sweet tooth creeps up, use these alternative flours instead.
Uhde, M., Ajamian, M., Caio, G., Giorgio, R. D., Indart, A., Green, P. H., . . . Alaedini, A. (2016). Intestinal cell damage and systemic immune activation in individuals reporting sensitivity to wheat in the absence of coeliac disease. Gut,65(12), 1930-1937. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2016-311964