There are a lot of different flours you can use in making bread. White flour has the highest content of gluten, but it is not as healthy or nutritious as other flour alternatives. Using a different flour to make your bread healthier is going to change your baking process.
So, if you are looking for a healthier flour to use, you may need to do some experimenting when substituting white flour for a healthier change.
Healthier Flour Options for Your Bread
Most baked goods, including bread, are made from white flour. This flour is wheat flour that has been stripped of two main components- bran and germ. When white flour breaks down in your system, your body will treat it just as if it were white sugar, which can lead to weight gain.
These are some healthier flour options to use in your bread baking:
Typically rye flour is used to make a bread darker and more substantial. There is a low glycemic content to rye flour, which is lower than found in wheat bread, making this a good choice for people with diabetes.
Rye flour has a very high fiber content, and one cup of cooked rye equals 26 grams of fiber. This product is not gluten-free, but it does have a lower gluten concentration than white or wheat flour and produces a less dense bread.
Brown rice flour is often used to make gluten-free bread. The flour comes from unmilled brown rice, so it is highly nutritious and quite dense. If you use all brown rice flour in your recipe, you will have a weighty bread, so you may want to combine it with a lighter flour.
When you purchase brown rice flour for your bread baking project, you should look for the finest ground available as this flour does tend to be quite gritty.
Wheat flour will provide you with a more similar taste and texture as white flour. This flour is made from the entire wheat berry, so it contains all of the wheat plant’s nutritional benefits. Those benefits include; vitamins E and B, protein, and fiber.
The flour also contains the wheat berry’s starchy endosperm, so it does have gluten. The gluten content of the wheat flour is much less concentrated than what is found in white flour.
With wheat flour, you will get a slightly denser bread, than with white flour, so you may want to create a mix of both flours to find a healthier and lighter final loaf of bread.
Buckwheat flour is ground from buckwheat oats, so it is related to the rhubarb family. You will find this flour has a strong, bitter taste when used on its own, so you may see it used in recipes of sweeter baking products such as muffins and pancakes.
Buckwheat flour can be used in bread baking; however, you may want to use a sweetener such as honey or sugar when using this product. Buckwheat flour is easy to digest as well as gluten-free. This flour is also high in vitamin B and fiber.
Durum wheat flour has the highest content of protein. The gluten that forms with this flour when water is added is not elastic so you may need to combine it with another flour type.
It is suggested you use about a 25 to 75 ratio when using durum wheat in your bread (25% durum wheat with 75% other flour product) to achieve the best end product.
How to Determine Which Flour is Healthiest for Bread
When you are trying to decide which flour to use in your bread baking project because you want it to be healthier, you have several factors to consider. The most important factor is the glycemic load of the flour.
The glycemic load will determine how your blood sugar levels are affected by eating the bread.
Flours also have two different types of protein, which give bread its structure. Gluten creates elasticity and chewiness, and the gliadin creates extensibility, which allows proteins to stretch and give your bread a higher rise.
Different flours will have varying amounts of proteins making certain flours better than others for specific recipes or your particular needs. Some flours will produce a better bread product; others will provide a healthier bread product.
Flours, along with all other foods begin to break down as soon as they enter your mouth. Your saliva has digestive enzymes in it, which work to break down these foods. A healthy flour will break down slowly, so you can use the energy for a longer time.
The healthier flours do not break down as fast by the time they enter your small intestine, which is roughly half-way through your digestion process.
Wheat is perhaps the least healthy as it breaks down quickly into simple sugars and can raise your blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases insulin that provides an escort of the sugar to your blood.
If you eat a lot of wheat products, your cells can become saturated with sugar. If this happens, they will not want to accept any more, and it makes them resistant to insulin. When they become resistant to insulin, your pancreas has to work harder.
Not all flour work the same. There are flours with low glycemic responses that do not break down in sugar.
So, if you are looking for a way to bake bread and maintain a healthy blood sugar level, you can try some of these in your next project:
- Teff (this is an ancient grain healthier than wheat)
- Buckwheat (especially good when baking gluten-free bread)
Of these flour choices, you will most likely find it easier to find almond and coconut products.
Healthier but Less Obvious Choice for Flour
A Japanese flour called, Konjac Glucomannan only contains twenty calories per serving. It also contains only five grams of carbs and five grams of soluble fiber, so it has zero net carbs.
In a standard recipe instead of using ten teaspoons of high-glycemic cornstarch, you can use two teaspoons of Konjac Glucomannan to reduce your calories and blood-sugar raising carbs.
The Konjac Glucomannan can also be added to a regular batch of bread if you do not want to give up on your wheat or white flour entirely.
Combining some of this into your mix will cut down on the potentially belly-bloating effect of gluten proteins found in white and wheat flours. It also has no sugars so it can be dissolved in water as a fiber supplement.