Alternative flours have been on the market for quite a while now. Two of the most famous are coconut flour and almond flour and I have my personal favourite which not many people know about – banana flour.
In this article, I will explain the pros and cons of each of them. But before all that, I want to make it very clear that none of them should form part of your daily diet, they should only be used once in a while when you feel like a treat.
- COCONUT FLOUR
Great option for people with gluten-related disorders and food allergies, as coconut flour is gluten-free and hypoallergenic.
Coconut flour has a high fibre content, which is crucial for a healthy digestion and elimination process.
It contains saturated fats in form of MCTs. Saturated fats are not good for you unless they are in MCT form. According to studies, MCTs can help with weight loss as it aids with calorie burning, promoting fat oxidation and reducing food intake.
Coconut flours is also low in digestible carbohydrates, which means it does not spike sugar levels in the blood. Constant spikes in blood/sugar level caused by simple carbohydrates can cause a lot of problems for our bodies, such as, inflammation, weight gain/loss, hormonal dysregulations, etc.
People with IBS disorder should avoid coconut or coconut flour as coconuts are rich in Inulin, a fibre that usually doesn’t go well for people with IBS. Inulin can cause gas, bloating and digestive system problems if consumed in large amounts.
You can also find Inulin in leeks, onions, garlic, artichokes, asparagus, dandelion root, chicory root, fresh herbs, wheat, yogurts, yams, ripe bananas, and it’s often added to many products such as breakfast cereals, baked goods, dairy products, supplements , protein powders, etc.
2. ALMOND FLOUR
This one is also a great gluten-free alternative to wheat flour. Suitable for those with gluten-related disorders, paleo and low-carb diet.
Loaded with nutritional values, such as healthy fats, iron, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, fibre and protein.
Great source of energy. The combination of macros and micros of almonds give you a perfect energy boost.
Almond flour is loaded with omega-6 fatty acids, which we do need to consume in our diet, but in small amounts and balanced with omega-3 fatty acids. An overconsumption of those omega 6 fatty acids can lead to inflammation and, more serious diseases, such as, cancer, asthma, arthritis, heart disease and many others.
Also, one cup of almond flour provides around 640 calories. For that reason, it is important to portion-control the amount of almond flour being consumed. If you think about it, it’s like eating a lot of almonds in just one go.
3. BANANA FLOUR
Rich in magnesium, potassium, fibre, vitamins. And it’s also 100% gluten-free. It increases the absorption and capacity of antioxidants and minerals into your body.
Banana flour is produced from green bananas which are high in resistance starch and basically sugar-free. Resistance starch, differently than typical starches, is slowly processed into our bodies. It reaches the colon intact and passes through our system. You feel fuller for longer.
It is a great prebiotic as they encourage the growth and activity of microorganisms in our guts, contributing to our well-being.
Resistance starches behave in our bodies like fermentable fibres, which means it could cause gas, bloating and gut issues for people with digestive illnesses such as GERD, IBS and Celiac disease. To be safe, if you have any of those digestive-related disorder you should limit your banana flour intake.
It has a higher percentage of carbohydrates than coconut flour and almond flour. So if your goal is to have a low-carb diet, this flour is going to add up carbohydrate calories pretty quickly.
This is a simple breakdown chart of macronutrients between each flour per ½ cup. (100g)
Sometimes we are naturally biased towards a particular product, because we have been told its great. But we need to look a little closer to see what is really going on.
If you glance at the chart above, which flour looks best to you?
More importantly, which one is best suited for YOUR goals?
Regardless, even though they are healthy flour options in comparison to wheat flour, as with everything, you should consume it in moderation and only occasionally.