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FLOUR CHART: How Gluten Free Flours Compare for Carbs and Protein Content

13 Jun
Flour Comparison Chart for Carbs and Protein Content

The figures above are based on a serving size of 1/4 cup (4 Tb).   **You are welcome to borrow this chart and information for your site, please just link back here, thanks!

Are you running out of room for your gluten free flours?
Confused about which are healthiest?

This is an article that I have been intending to write for quite some time to help gluten free cooks and bakers make smart choices when it comes to navigating the wide world of flours! There is no question that there are more flours available now, commercially, than at any other time. People are not only interested in expanding home cooking and culinary adventures, but are savvier when it comes to nutrition and the benefits of food-based wellness. Many of us are learning how to cater to food intolerances in our home kitchens and taking responsibility for eating well. There are an almost overwhelming variety of flours, starches and meals which can be combined or used alone to bake, thicken and coat. You may think that flour is flour and that some are merely gluten free or grain free, but the truth runs deeper than that.

There is some confusion about flours versus starches. In some cases (such as with tapioca flour/starch) they are one and the same, perhaps because tapioca is virtually all starch to begin with. In general though, the difference between starches and flours seems to be that flours are made from dried and ground grains (or tubers or nuts) and have the protein and fiber intact, whereas the starches have the fiber and protein removed, leaving nearly pure carbohydrates. Starches are excellent for smoothly thickening sauces and gravies, and are often ingredients in gluten free baking mixtures. However, people who are aiming for a low-carb diet, either for weight loss or because they are diabetic (or want to avoid BECOMING diabetic) will find that starches and certain flours quickly topple the daily allowances and spike blood sugars.

Flours and meals are not created equally (since all foods are not created equally) and flours are merely ground up versions of the food as a whole. You will notice that the flours made from nuts and legumes are in the top of my chart, having the lowest net carbs and highest protein counts. Starches and rice flours which are often used in gluten free baking are at the bottom of my chart because they have such high carb counts and very little protein.

You can also see by the placement of traditional flours that even if you are not on a gluten free diet, wheat flours are far from the healthiest of choices! For instance, even whole wheat flour (which seems to be the darling of the grain industry), has more than SIX times the net carbs of almond flour. Pastry flour which is found in many commercial baked goods has NINE times as much. All those carbs convert to sugar, which spikes insulin… repeated insulin spikes lead to insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to diabetes, visceral fat, inflammation and obesity.

While it is true that the healthiest alternative flours require different methods of preparation and even to some degree their very own recipes, it is well worth the effort to learn to bake with them. My personal favorite flours are almond flour, coconut flour, garbanzo bean flour, flax meal and occasionally buckwheat flour. I am open to learning more, always, and that list very well may expand in the near future!

ABOUT THIS CHART:  I have created the chart above to summarize some of the common (and uncommon) flours that are frequently used in gluten free baking, as well as to compare them to the old standards (in red, not gluten free.) This chart uses Bob’s Red Mill products nutritional information as a source because it was readily available online; however, this is not a specific endorsement of their products. I do use Bob’s Red Mill occasionally, but I also use Nuts.com as well other specialty brands and bulk products.  Other manufacturers may vary somewhat, but because the flours are derived from the same sources, the numbers should be similar, and the spot checking I did to compare to other brands showed the exact same results.  The ratings are my own opinion only, based on net carbs and protein.

Serving size in the chart above is ¼ cup (4TB).  Number values represent grams (other than calories.) Note that Net Carbs is equal to Total Carbs minus Fiber, which is why flax meal can have a net carb count of zero.  Low Net Carbs and high Proteins are the best choices when looking to keep blood sugar levels balanced; even though that may mean the flour is higher in calories, it also means that it is much more filling, and it doesn’t drive cravings. While this chart may be a good starting point, obviously these numbers don’t tell the whole story, and different flours have different nutritional benefits unique to their source, and I hope to highlight some of my favorites in upcoming articles. When choosing flours, personal taste is also a major factor, as the flavors can be quite different from the wheat flours we have been conditioned to eat.

I hope that this answers some questions that you may have had about why I, or other gluten free bloggers, choose the flours that we do, and helps you to make good choices in your own kitchen! Stay tuned for a super delicious PIZZA recipe featuring garbanzo bean flour very soon :)  This is a socca style done in a pan or on a griddle, and met with rave reviews from the guys…

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43 responses to “FLOUR CHART: How Gluten Free Flours Compare for Carbs and Protein Content

  1. livingforjackie

    June 13, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Thanks for the information Gretchen! Being new to this gluten free diet AND being a diabetic I am grateful for the info…… :-)

     
    • Gretchen without Gluten

      June 14, 2012 at 9:04 am

      You are very welcome! I know that I was curious about all of it when I started, and I still had the urge to see all the info side by side. Thanks for commenting :)

       
  2. johnnysenough hepburn

    June 13, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    This is great info! Especially pleased as you have hazelnut flour up there within No 1. Chances are I wouldn’t be able to buy it but, I guess I could grind whole blanched hazelnuts for the base for several quiche recipes I have on my hard drive. Would love to do them for summer.

     
    • Gretchen without Gluten

      June 14, 2012 at 9:07 am

      Cool, glad you found it interesting! I have never used hazelnut flour, but I use almond flour ALL the time… I would think that they might be interchangeable in recipes. If it is like almond flour, it would be more of a pressed type of crust, and I think it might be amazing with quiche, mmmmm.

       
  3. A Table in the Sun

    June 14, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Very informational chart. Other reasons to avoid wheat include certain human genetic mutations (MTHFR) which cannot process the folic acid which is in all of our processed products, and the fact that modified wheat in the US has huge proportions of MSG.

     
    • Gretchen without Gluten

      June 14, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Glad you liked the chart, it took quite awhile to construct it! There are SO many reasons to avoid wheat, that no single article could ever cover them all. I have never heard about MSG in modified wheat before; I thought it was an additive, not something that occurred in the plant itself. Do you have a reference to point me to on that one? I avoid MSG in processed foods because it gives me headaches, which would make sense that dropping wheat also relieved my pain.

       
      • A Table in the Sun

        June 14, 2012 at 11:07 am

        Here are a couple of good places to start. I received these links from an alternative practitioner that I really trust. She’s having amazing success working with children with autism, adults with CFS, Parkinsons, Fibromyalgia, etc.

        http://www.msgtruth.org/cropspra.htm

        http://www.truthinlabeling.org/

        There is always more to learn about our health. Keep digging!

         
      • Gretchen without Gluten

        June 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm

        Thank you for the links, I will read up!! At this point, there isn’t anything that could ever convince me to eat wheat again, but it helps to know more when explaining it to others.

         
  4. Kristen

    June 14, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Thanks for the chart. :) I usually only keep almond and coconut flours on hand. It makes for less to store and 99% of the recipes I make I can use either one.

     
    • Gretchen without Gluten

      June 14, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      You’re welcome! Those are the ones I use the most as well, but I am really liking the garbanzo bean flour for the flatbread style of pizza, and we like buckwheat in our pancakes.

       
      • Michelle

        October 1, 2013 at 10:11 am

        What do the different colors represent? Did I miss that in the reading?

         
      • Gretchen without Grain

        October 29, 2013 at 7:09 am

        RED represents flours than contain gluten… so red is off limits
        GREENS represent lower carb or lower calorie
        PURPLE represents moderate choices
        ORANGE represents higher carb and higher calorie flours.

        You can see that I’ve sectioned the chart off into chunks taking these factors into consideration. Excellent, occasional use, and use rarely. These are my opinions only, based on the information I was able to find, and it assisted me in making choices about which flours to keep in my GF pantry. Hope it’s helpful to you as well!

         
      • Gretchen without Grain

        October 29, 2013 at 7:10 am

        I just answered this question in a previous reply… hope this helps!

         
  5. Andrejka

    June 17, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Dear Gretchen,
    I think, you’re amazing!
    Your flour chart is excellent and I already started to use it. I’ve bought coconut flour in organic shop yesterday and made a bread of it with almond and spelt flour. It’s amazing tasty and rich.
    Next time I’ll replace spelt flour with buckwheat or corn.
    Thank you again for your effort and enjoy your day,

     
    • Gretchen without Gluten

      June 19, 2012 at 8:44 am

      Thank you so much for the compliment!
      I was really hoping that the chart would be useful to others because it was information that I was curious about myself. I have never used spelt flour, because I am gluten free, but using a little buckwheat flour will probably give you interesting results, and a much darker bread.
      You are very welcome, and I hope you have a great day as well!

       
    • Chrissy Deutsch

      September 30, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      Completely agree with you. I fell in love with this blog as soon as I found it and I thought I had learned and done a lot of research on my own but wow the things I have learned from Gretchen! thank you so much Gretchen!

       
      • Gretchen without Grain

        October 2, 2012 at 7:12 am

        Thank you so much for your kind comment, Chrissy! When I spend time researching and writing here, and experimenting in the kitchen, it is my sincere hope that there are people like you who will find this useful. You are very welcome!

         
  6. Mary Beth Wegrzyn

    July 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Can you make an Adobe print link? I’d like to keep this info in my homemade recipe book. I’m new to the whole wheat-free, gluten-free, wheat belly diet, and I’m looking for all the help I can get. Printable links would be greatly appreciated. :-)

     
    • Gretchen without Gluten

      July 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      I’m not quite sure how to do that, but I will look into it.. in the meantime, you should be able to right click on it and select “view image”, and print from there. I’ll see what I can do :)

       
  7. Lauren

    November 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Hi Gretchen! I just wanted to thank you for posting this informative chart. I will be borrowing it for my post tomorrow and linking back to you. :-)

     
    • Gretchen without Grain

      November 6, 2012 at 8:39 pm

      Hi Lauren,
      I’m glad you found this chart useful! Thank you for the link back, looking forward to reading your post.
      ~Gretchen

       
  8. Chrissy Deutsch

    January 5, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Hey Gretchen, I love this chart. Was wondering if you could point me to a place that listed the actual starch content of all these types, as I’m trying to make a friend who is on low starch for arthritis understand that wheat still has starch in it even if it is less than rice and potato flours. Will give her this one for the time being but figured I’d post my question. Thanks!

     
    • Gretchen without Grain

      January 7, 2013 at 10:29 am

      Hi Chrissy, I’m glad you find the chart useful! I have to admit that I’m not knowledgeable about starch content versus overall carb content. I believe all grains would have starch, just as they each have their own type of gluten. I can say from personal experience that avoiding grains altogether can be amazing for arthritis and joint pain. Severe pain I’d had for many years vanished in a few days of going off the wheat and grains. I’ve lost weight too, but the pain relief alone is well-worth changing my diet permanently :) I also suggest the “Wheat Belly” book by Dr. William Davis, if the two of you haven’t read it yet, it’s an eye-opener!

       
  9. Debbie Latour

    March 7, 2013 at 11:56 am

    What can I use to thicken my beef stew if I’m on the wheat belly diet?

     
  10. diana

    March 30, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Greetings, thank you for the chart! I am using it to compare baking flours for home use. May I ask where the data comes from?

     
    • Gretchen without Grain

      April 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm

      Hi Diana, You’re very welcome… it was some work to put it together ;) Glad you are finding it useful. The data comes directly from the nutrition info on the packaging, and in many cases was cross-referenced online to see if it was the same for other brands. Much was from Bob’s Red Mill, as that brand has a wide variety of flours available, as well as at Nuts.com. ~Gretchen

       
  11. Debra Stevenson

    April 8, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    I found your website while look for difference flours. I am allergy to wheat, rice, almond and Buckley. And I am having a difficult time finding a flour that I can bake with. Can you make any suggests. I would like to make yeast rolls again and to be able to make cakes and pie again also. My son is in the Navy and when he comes home I have to buy store pies and cake because I have not been able to find a flour to use any help would be greatly appreciate .

     
    • Gretchen without Grain

      September 5, 2013 at 10:20 am

      Hi Debra, I would suggest trying coconut flour for cakes, and possibly using nut flours other than almond for crusts since you have an almond allergy. Perhaps hazelnut, walnut or pecan would be useful to you. I haven’t attempted to make yeast rolls, but there may be other sites that have a solution for you. The problem in subbing flours for any recipe that has a doughy consistency is that the stretchiness comes from gluten… ditch the gluten and the texture is not going to be the same. Good luck to you! ~G

       
  12. Me

    April 17, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Wow, thanks for doing this! Will have to check out more of your blog.

     
  13. Pingback: Different flours
  14. Dana

    July 30, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Thank you, this will be a great help! I recently began my wheat free (and maybe eventually grain free) journey and I think this will come in really handy! Especially with a husband that loves wheat and is not loving my almond flour baking, haha. Perhaps if I opted for buckwheat, he’d enjoy them a bit more. ;)

     
    • Gretchen without Grain

      September 5, 2013 at 10:57 am

      It can be tough to convert a wheat-lover, but keep trying different things and eventually you will likely find a balance. Some people prefer the coconut flour over almond flour because it tends to have a more tender texture. I love the taste of almond flour baked goods, but too much almond flour wreaks havoc on my digestion, so I have to mix it up as well. Good luck! ~G

       
  15. Val fern

    August 21, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    And have you ever tried banana flour or as they call it in South America harina de platano verde?

    Not only gluten free but also Low GI and high in resistant starch.

     
    • Gretchen without Grain

      September 5, 2013 at 11:11 am

      I haven’t tried it, nor even heard of it til your post! Interesting. I generally go easy on bananas because even though they are low GI, they are high in fructose. They do have other nutritional benefits though, so perhaps using it in a blend would be beneficial. Thanks for the info! ~G

       
  16. lildragn

    October 3, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Hiya, is there a legend for the colors used in your chart? Thanks much for putting it together.

    Cheers!

     
  17. lildragn

    October 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Sorry, also it would be great to see Millet on the list :)

     
    • Gretchen without Grain

      October 29, 2013 at 6:58 am

      If I get a chance to revise the chart, I will consider adding Millet to the list. I haven’t personally used it, how are you liking it? In what types of recipes are you using it?

       
  18. Caroline Meeks

    October 25, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Great chart! Could you add Chestnut Flour? I’m curious how it compares. Also do you have any thoughts on which of the flours have more vitamins and other nutrients?

     
    • Gretchen without Grain

      October 29, 2013 at 6:51 am

      If I get a chance to add to the chart, I will keep chestnut flour in mind. I’ve not used it, how do you like it? As far as nutrients, I’m honestly not sure, but I definitely aim to get nutrients from the rest of my diet, and still consider GF baked goods to be occasional, treat foods. Since nuts are a calorie dense food, that’s something to consider as well, though they are lower in carbs than traditional grain flour.

       

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