Which flour is best for a diabetic? Did you know there are flours with Zero Glycemic Index values?? How cool is that??
Knowing the GI of common flours can help you make good decisions. Instead of avoiding all flours, if you know which flours are bad for you, then you can make healthy eating choices, whether you are diabetic or pre-diabetic.
A little background about the data
The Glycemic Index Foundation of South Africa has published The Smart Carb Guide in which they have tested GI values of flours. The diabetes council also seems to have some data on GI of some flours.
Most GI values of flours seem to directly correlate with the net carbs in the flour. So, this serves as an intuitive check – the more carbs, less fiber in a particular grain, the higher the glycemic index and better to avoid/reduce our use of them.
Glycemic Index for Common Flours
Here are some numbers based on the glycemic index from the diabetes council website:
Flours with fantastic GI!!- 0:
- Walnut Flour – 0
- Almond Flour – 0
- Flax Seed Flour – 0
Notice these are nut/seed flours with high levels of fat (good fat).
Flours with low-ok GI
- Soy Flour – 25
- Chickpea Flour – 44
- Oat Flour – 44
- Coconut Flour – 50
Notice these start going into legume flour category.
Flours with high GI
(Although GI above 70 is considered as high, I started clumping anything above 50 in this category)
- Buckwheat Flour – 71
- Whole Wheat Flour – 69
- White Wheat Flour – 85
- Brown Rice Flour – 62
- White Rice Flour – 72
- Tapioca Flour – 67
Now notice the flours are almost all grain flours at this point.
For more information regarding other flours, Check out Diabetescouncil.com
Glycemic Load (GL) of common flours:
Now, let’s look at the flours through the lens of Glycemic Load. The glycemic load takes into account the portion size of the serving as well.
Here are some numbers based on the glycemic load from the gifoundation website:
Low GL (<5)
- Wheat Bran
- Psyllium Husks
- Rice Bran
These are all the fiber by-products from grain processing. High fiber flours!!
Medium GI (<20)
- Soya Flour
- Mesquite Flour
- Oat Bran
- Rolled Oats
Soya seems to be far superior in terms of GI compared to other legume family flours.
High GL Flour (<40)
- Chickpea Flour (Besan)
- Barley Flour
- Buckwheat Flour
- Wheat Flour
- Rice Flour
As usual, grain flours are the worst!!
Get information about more GL of flours here at GIFoundation.com
If you want to really be good about sugar control, eat less flour-based products. But, if you want to eat flour-based recipes, start considering flours or flour mixes that are super high in fat or fiber.
Especially when it comes to desserts and us Indian vegetarians :). Just think – desserts already have sugar. No matter what traditional flour you use, you are only going to make your dessert a sugar rocket.
So, why not use a flour that offers zero contribution to the GI of the dish? Especially a flour loaded with protein, omega-3, and protein; and much more affordable than almond flour. This is really the reason why I love Flax and I have a Flax Burfi recipe on my website.
Hope this post was helpful to you. If you were hesitating to try low GI flours until now, I would encourage you to experiment with some. Maybe start with a 20-80 mix and see how you feel.
Please post your comments below on your favorite low GI/GL flour. Please share this post with your friends on social media who would benefit from this information. Thank you for reading and supporting this blog.
Carb count of common flours by Diabetesmealplans.com
Photo CreditsImage by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay Image by congerdesign from Pixabay Image by Oldmermaid from Pixabay Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay
I am not a health professional/nutritionist. I only research numbers and report them. Please talk to your doctor/nutritionist before making any significant changes to your diet.
Good info thanks
Very basic information thanks
Fantastic article!! Just what I was looking for. Commented earlier in another article on GI regarding besans ability to render me comatose. The GL explanation here clarifies everything. Could you please elaborate on the following please: (1). Flax flour: Can we just grind flax seeds in an Indian ” Mixer Grinder” to convert it to flax flour? (2) . Any cheela/roti type recipes with flax flour? (3) Soy flour: Apparently has a high estrogen content.. Any cautionary notes? Also any soy flour recipes please. Thank you
1) Yes, you can. In fact, freshly ground flax flour is superior to store bought one because the flours (due to high (good) fat content gets rancid easily. Store extra flour in the fridge.
2) Here is a popular youtube flax tortilla (roti) recipe:
However, I personally found the recipe too time consuming, abandoning it after the first try. But, if you like it, go for it. I recommend this coconut flour (keto) dosai, which I have made twice with good results.
3) Soy Flour – I don’t know the answer to that. There is no concrete evidence on either side, according to me.
But, I can tell you this from my experience. Don’t overdo too much of one ingredient. It never ends up well, for some reason. Alternate between – flax, coconut flour, besan, soy, barley, etc; you will be ok. Wish you the best!!
Did you know that Flax is very heating so it is not suitable for hot Indian summer or for people with high Pitta (or heat) in them.
Thanks for the info, Swetha. I’m curious –
have you seen any different listings of GIs of Whole Wheat Atta flour (durum wheat) and the regular (in the supermarkets here) red Whole Wheat flour? I’ve noticed that not all atta flour that says “whole wheat” is 100% ww – sort of like some of the commercial ww flours (not in the supermarkets!) has had a certain percentage of the bran sifted out of it, but that’s another topic!
I was surprised to see that barley was up there in the “bad flours”, since barley is one of the better grains for a diabetic.
Hi Dave, I am afraid I don’t know of any GI difference b/w red and durum wheat flours.
Yes, the info on barley flour caught me by surprise too. I think when you break grains down into flour form, there is really no escaping their quick impact on body’s sugar levels.