Some of the most delicious foods contain white processed wheat flour. Most of the bread, biscuits, and muffins sold in stores and cafes use plain white wheat flour. As tasty as these are, they’re also some of the less obvious foods that cause blood sugar spikes. Something as simple as a sandwich can push a diabetic’s blood sugars up. This is because wheat flour is 71 or higher on the glycemic index, tipping the total glycemic load of a sandwich to ‘high’.
Not all flour is bad for diabetic recipes. These days, it’s fairly simple to find low GI flours for use in meals and baking. Nut flours, coconut flour, and whole-grain flour are just a few of the options that people concerned with blood sugar management should try in their cooking.
Carbs and the Glycemic Index
The glycemic index is a scale starting at 1 (lowest glycemic index) and finishing at 100 (high glycemic index) that indicates how fast different foods impact blood sugar levels. All food that we eat causes a blood sugar response in our bodies. Many people believe it is high-calorie foods that have the biggest impact on blood sugar levels, but this isn’t always true.
Carbohydrate levels often have a high glycemic index as when they are digested, they create more energy than low-carb foods. When grains are processed into flour it adjusts the carbohydrate and fiber content. Wheat flour is an excellent example of this. Whole wheat grains have a low glycemic index rating of 30. When ground into flour, our bodies can derive even more energy from it, causing wheat flour to have a glycemic index of 71 or more.
With a little math, the glycemic index can be used to ascertain the total glycemic load of a meal or snack. Diabetics, insulin-resistant people, and people trying to lose weight should aim to keep their total glycemic load under 100 each day. Choosing baked goods with low glycemic index flours is an excellent way to keep blood sugar steady and total glycemic load below 100. The following five flours are excellent choices for baking bread, use in savory foods, and achieving better blood sugar management.
A great substitute for wheat flour thanks to the neutral flavor, chickpea flour comes from dried chickpeas known as garbanzo beans. These beans provide more vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein than whole wheat flour with fewer carbohydrates and a lower glycemic index.
Chickpea flour is fairly dense and mimics the texture of regular wheat flour in baked and fried foods. This makes it just as perfect for cookies as it is for Indian pakoras. Suitable for weight management, diabetics, and gluten intolerant people, chickpea flour is as healthy as it is versatile.
Chickpea flour is easily made at home by roasting dried chickpeas in the oven for 10 minutes at 350°F. Once roasted, throw the chickpeas into a food processor and grind them into coarse or fine powder, depending on your preference.
The smell of coconuts is delicious! Coconut flour has a slightly sweet flavor, making it a perfect substitute for wheat flour in baked goods. Chocolate cupcakes, pancakes, and other sweet dishes are likely to be enhanced with the use of coconut flour.
Additional benefits for this low glycemic flour are the healthy fats, essential nutrients, and vitamins that support good health and your metabolism. Coconut flour is an excellent choice for managing blood sugar levels the coconut flour glycemic index is a reasonable 51. The high fiber content and medium-chain triglyceride fats indicate coconut flour may also be good for managing cholesterol.
Nut flours such as almond flour, often have very low GI ratings. The additional benefits of almond flour and mild yet pleasant nutty flavor make it an ideal replacement for wheat flour and even whole wheat flour.
High in protein and with a glycemic index rating of just 1, almond flour tastes delicious in sweet and savory dishes. It’s an excellent substitute to use in pizza crusts as the flavor compliments rather than overpowers this Italian dish.
Almond flour is different from almond meal in that it’s coarser and made with blanched nuts. Despite these differences, most recipes can be made just as well with almond meal as they can with almond flour. Almond flour can also be easily made at home with a food processor or high-powered blender.
Extremely flexible when it comes to baked goods, oat flour is one of the great low gi flours with a rating of just 44. Naturally gluten-free and high in fiber, oat flour can be used to thicken sauces, bake cakes and boost your health.
Oat flour can help you to feel full for longer and the mix of soluble and insoluble fibers reduces the risk of heart disease, lowers blood pressure, and helps diabetics control blood sugar levels. The oat flour glycemic index is just 44, making it level with the chickpea flour glycemic index.
An additional benefit that makes oat flour a particularly good choice for people with diabetes is the beta glucan content that has been shown to decrease blood sugar levels.
The spelt flour glycemic index rating is a little higher than the previous four flours listed, but this versatile and easy-to-use flour ranks better than whole wheat flour. Made from an ancient grain, spelt flour is more commonly consumed around the world so it can be easier to find than other low glycemic flour.
Mixing spelt flour with other low GI flour such as almond flour or coconut flour can reduce the cost of baking low gi foods. Spelt flour is closely related to traditional bread wheat and is often found in pasta, pastries, and cakes.
Other low glycemic flours that can be used in baking and meals include buckwheat flour, soy flour, flaxseed flour, and quinoa flour which all have low to medium gi ratings. Managing glycemic load is one way to help maintain a healthy diet and weight. However, it is important to ensure that a range of fruits and vegetables are also consumed for optimal health.