Most products are made from white or wheat flour. While unproblematic for many, people with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or those avoiding gluten for other reasons should not consume these two types of flour.
Fortunately, there are a variety of gluten-free flours on the market, each with a different taste, texture and nutrient composition.
Here are the 14 best gluten-free flours.
1. Almond Flour
Almond flour is one of the most common grain- and gluten-free flours. It's made from ground, blanched almonds, which means the skin has been removed.
One cup of almond flour contains about 90 almonds and has a nutty flavor. It's commonly used in baked goods and can be a grain-free alternative to breadcrumbs.
It can typically be substituted in a 1:1 ratio in place of regular or wheat flour. If you are baking with this type of flour, use one extra egg. Note that the batter will be thicker and your end product denser.
Almond flour contains many minerals, including iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, copper and manganese. It's also a good source of vitamin E and monounsaturated fat.
While almonds and all nuts are naturally gluten-free, it's still important to read the package to confirm the flour was not made in a facility where gluten is processed.
Almond flour is a nutritious replacement for flours containing gluten and can be used in a variety of baking recipes.
2. Buckwheat Flour
Buckwheat may contain the word "wheat," but it is not a wheat grain and is gluten-free. It belongs to the family of pseudocereals, a group of grains that are eaten like cereals but don't belong to the grass family.
Buckwheat flour provides a rich, earthy flavor and is good for baking quick and yeast breads.
Due to its lack of gluten, it tends to be crumbly in nature. To make a quality product, it can be combined with other gluten-free flours like brown rice flour.
It contains a variety of B-vitamins and is rich in the minerals iron, folate, magnesium, zinc, manganese and fiber. Buckwheat flour is also high in antioxidants, specifically the polyphenol rutin, which has anti-inflammatory properties (4, 5, 6, 7).
Buckwheat can be cross-contaminated with gluten-containing foods during processing, transportation or when used as a rotational crop with wheat. Be sure to look for certified gluten-free on the label to be safe.
Buckwheat flour is rich in fiber and nutrients and contains antioxidants that help the body fight inflammation.
3. Sorghum Flour
Sorghum flour is made from an ancient cereal grain that has been grown for more than 5,000 years. The grain is naturally gluten-free and considered the fifth most important cereal grain in the world (8).
It has a light color and texture, as well as a mild, sweet flavor. Considered a heavy or dense flour, it's often mixed with other gluten-free flours or used in recipes requiring small amounts of flour.
The sorghum grain is high in fiber and protein, which can help slow sugar absorption. It also contains an abundance of the mineral iron, as well as antioxidants that help you fight inflammation (9, 10, 11).
Sorghum flour may be contaminated with gluten during processing. Look for the certified gluten-free label.
Research suggests that sorghum flour contains nutrients that may help reduce inflammation and balance blood sugar levels.
4. Amaranth Flour
Like buckwheat, amaranth is considered a pseudocereal. It's a group of more than 60 grains that were once considered a staple food in the Inca, Maya and Aztec civilizations.
Amaranth has an earthy, nutty flavor and tends to take on the flavor of other ingredients. It can replace 25% of wheat flour but should be combined with other flours when baking. The best use of this type of flour is for making tortillas, pie crusts and bread.
If you have a gluten intolerance, make sure to read labels. Amaranth processed in the same facilities as wheat may contain traces of gluten.
Amaranth flour is rich in nutrients that play a role in brain health, bone health and DNA synthesis.
5. Teff Flour
Teff is the world's smallest grain and is 1/100 the size of a kernel of wheat.
It comes in a variety of colors, ranging from white to red to dark brown. Light colors have a mild flavor, while darker shades are more earthy in taste.
Teff flour has traditionally been used to make injera, a fermented, sourdough-like Ethiopian bread. It's now also used for other foods like pancakes, cereals, breads and snacks. It can be substituted for 25–50% of wheat or all-purpose flour.
As with any grain, to ensure your teff flour is 100% gluten-free, look at where it was processed.
Teff is the smallest grain in the world. Nonetheless, its flour is packed with a nutritional punch.
6. Arrowroot Flour
Arrowroot flour is a less common gluten- and grain-free powder. It's made from a starchy substance extracted from a tropical plant known as Maranta arundinacea.
It's a versatile flour and can be used as a thickener or mixed with almond, coconut or tapioca flours for bread and dessert recipes. If you want a crispy, crunchy product, use it on its own.
Starch-based arrowroot flour can be a good thickener or mixed with other flours to create bread products. It might even provide an immune boost.
7. Brown Rice Flour
Brown rice flour is made from ground brown rice. It's considered a whole-grain flour and contains the bran, germ and endosperm.
It has a nutty flavor and can be used to make a roux, thicken sauces or prepare breaded foods, such as fish and chicken. Brown rice flour is often used to make noodles and can be combined with other gluten-free flours for bread, cookie and cake recipes.
To avoid contamination with gluten, look for brown rice flours that were not produced in a facility that also processes wheat.
Flour made from brown rice offers a variety of health benefits. It can help lower blood sugar levels, reduce body weight and protect against heart disease.
8. Oat Flour
Oat flour is made by grinding whole-grain oats. It gives baked goods more flavor than all-purpose flour and results in a chewier, crumblier texture.
Baking with oat flour will likely make your end product more moist. Due to its lack of gluten, some ingredients will need to be adjusted to create light and fluffy baked goods.
Oats and oat flour are often subject to contamination, depending on how they were grown and where they were processed. If you cannot eat gluten, be sure to look for products that have been certified gluten-free.
Oat flour provides soluble fiber and antioxidants that can help protect against heart disease and lower blood sugar levels. Note that it may be contaminated with gluten.
9. Corn Flour
Corn flour is a very finely ground version of cornmeal. Cornmeal is made from the whole kernel, including the bran, germ and endosperm.
It's commonly used as a thickener for liquids and can be used to make tortillas and breads.
Corn flour comes in white and yellow varieties and can be combined with other gluten-free flours to make pizza crust.
It's high in fiber and a good source of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These two plant compounds act as antioxidants and can benefit eye health by decreasing age-related macular degeneration and reducing the risk of cataracts (38, 39, 40).
It's also high in vitamin B6, thiamine, manganese, magnesium and the antioxidant selenium (41).
Corn is from a different branch of the grass family than gluten-rich wheat, barley and rye. Cross-contamination is typically more likely in processed foods made with corn flour. Even cornbread can contain regular flour.
Corn flour is a whole-grain flour, providing fiber and antioxidants that can benefit eye health.
10. Chickpea Flour
Chickpeas are part of the legume family. Chickpea flour is made from dry chickpeas and is also known as garbanzo flour, gram flour and besan.
Chickpeas have a nutty taste and grainy texture and are popular in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. Chickpea flour is used to make falafel, hummus and the flatbread socca.
Cross contamination may occur with certain manufactured foods made with other gluten-containing flours.
As a legume, chickpea flour offers plant-based protein, fiber and other nutrients that may protect against heart disease.
11. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is made from dried coconut meat and offers a mild coconut flavor.
Its light texture yields similar results to regular flour and is good for baking breads and desserts. Note that coconut flour absorbs a lot more water than regular or almond flour.
It's high in the saturated fat lauric acid. This medium-chain triglyceride can provide energy for your body and may help lower "bad" LDL cholesterol in combination with the flour's fiber content (49, 50).
Research suggests its fiber content may help maintain healthy blood sugar levels, as it does not cause them to spike (51).
Coconut flour is a good option for those with nut and gluten allergies. It can be contaminated in the processing phase, so be sure to look at where your flour was produced.
Full of fiber and healthy saturated fat, coconut flour is a good option for those with food allergies.
12. Tapioca Flour
Tapioca flour is made from the starchy liquid extracted from the South American cassava root.
This flour is used as a thickener in soups, sauces and pies and has no discernable flavor or taste. It can also be used in combination with other gluten-free flours in bread recipes.
Aside from carbohydrates, tapioca flour provides little nutritional value in the form of fiber, protein or micronutrients. In fact, it's considered inferior to other whole-grain, gluten-free flours and often thought of as empty calories (52, 53).
One health benefit of tapioca flour is its resistant starch content, which functions like fiber. Resistant to digestion, this starch is linked to improved insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, reduced appetite and other digestive benefits (54, 55, 56, 57).
If you're on a gluten-free diet, ensure that tapioca flour is not combined with another gluten-containing flour.
Low in overall nutrients, tapioca flour is a good grain-, gluten- and nut-free flour option to thicken liquids and use in bread products. It may also offer digestive benefits.
13. Cassava Flour
Cassava is a starchy root vegetable or tuber native to South America. It's also known as yuca.
In contrast to tapioca flour, which is made from a starchy liquid extracted from the cassava root, cassava flour is made by grating and drying the whole root.
This flour is gluten-, grain- and nut-free.
It's most similar to white flour and can easily be used in recipes calling for all-purpose flour. It has a neutral flavor and is easily digestible. It's also lower in calories than coconut or almond flours.
Some research suggests that the resistant starch content in this type of flour may help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Note that processing the cassava root may decrease the levels of resistant starch present in the flour (58, 59, 60).
Because cassava flour can be used alone in food products, it's less likely to be contaminated. However, it's always important to look at where the product was processed.
Gluten-, grain- and nut-free, cassava flour is a good choice for those with food allergies. Its resistant starch content may also offer some digestive benefits.
14. Tigernut Flour
Despite its name, tigernut flour is not made from nuts. Tigernuts are small root vegetables that grow in North Africa and the Mediterranean.
Tigernut flour has a sweet and nutty flavor that works well in baked goods. Its sweetness allows you to cut back on the sugar quantity in your recipe.
Note that it's slightly coarser than white flour and likely results in products with more texture.
One-fourth cup packs 10 grams of fiber, which can help lower cholesterol. Tigernut flour is also rich in healthy monounsaturated fat, iron, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins E and C (44, 61, 62, 63).
Newer on the gluten-free market, few companies produce this flour. The risk of gluten contamination is low, as tigernuts are not grain based.
Rich in nutrients, tigernut flour offers an easy white flour alternative in baked goods.
The Bottom Line
A variety of healthy, gluten-free alternatives to regular or wheat flour exist for people with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or those avoiding gluten for other reasons.
Some gluten-free flours have more nutrients than others, making them healthier choices to include in your diet.
Many gluten-free flours require recipe adjustments or combinations of different types of gluten-free flours to create a tasty end product. Be sure to evaluate your recipe.
If you choose or require gluten-free flour, be sure to compare the nutrients, taste and recipe composition before making your flour choice.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Zahida Sherman
Cooking has always intimidated me. As a child, I would anxiously peer into the kitchen as my mother prepared Christmas dinner for our family.
Falling in Love With Food All Over Again<p>Slowly, through my most intimate relationships with friends and partners, I began to see the beauty — and rewards — of cooking.</p><p>I got tired of giving in to defeat and always bringing chips or paper products to social gatherings. I started asking my mom to send me her Christmas and Thanksgiving recipes. I even volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner at my place.</p><p>Each time I heard my loved ones sing the praises of the foods I prepared for them, I felt a tinge more confident that I could carry out our traditions my way.</p><p>In reaching out to other relatives for their favorite recipes, I learned that they had a little help of their own. They didn't rely solely on their ancestral cooking instincts. They turned to Black chefs for guidance.</p><p>These 7 cookbooks by Black chefs have inspired my family and fed us in nutrients, joy, and spiritual sustenance. They're also helping me overcome my personal fears of cooking.</p>
Get CookingWhether you're in recovery from cooking fears like me, or are just looking to expand your culinary confidence with dishes honoring Black heritage, these Black chefs are here to support you on your journey.Turn on some music, give yourself permission to make mistakes, and throw down for yourself or your loved ones. Glorious flavors await you.
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By Tara Lohan
The conclusion to decades of work to remove a dam on the Middle Fork Nooksack River east of Bellingham, Washington began with a bang yesterday as crews breached the dam with a carefully planned detonation. This explosive denouement is also a beginning.
The History<p>The Middle Fork Nooksack drains glacier-fed headwater streams that run off the icy summit of 10,778-foot Mt. Baker. The Middle Fork joins the North Fork and then the mainstem of the Nooksack River, which travels to Bellingham Bay and Puget Sound. The entire Nooksack watershed stretches 830 square miles across Washington and into British Columbia.</p>
A Plan Comes Together<p>The Middle Fork dam is not a pool dam built for water storage. Much of the time, water flows over the top until dam operators drop a floodgate to divert water to new locations. That water travels about 14 miles through tunnel and pipeline to Mirror Lake, then Anderson Creek, and to Lake Whatcom before finally being delivered to residents' taps.</p><p>Before removing the dam, engineers had to move the water intake 700 feet upstream and situate it at an elevation that still enabled city water withdrawals throughout the year, regardless of flow conditions.</p><p>They also needed to make sure that the rushing water didn't sweep up fish and accidentally send them through the water-supply system.</p><p>"The solution required a fairly complex design in the intake structure, including a fish exit pipe out of that structure to put fish back into the river in a way that meets current environmental permit standards," explains LaCroix.</p>
Project layout for the removal of the Middle Fork Nooksack diversion dam and rebuilding of water intake. City of Bellingham<p>Despite the cost and the work, she says, being able to continue to meet their municipal water obligations while opening up habitat for threatened species has been a win-win.</p><p>"I think there's a lot of benefits to having a dam removal versus fish passage — the main one being that you get a free-flowing river that can be a dynamic ecosystem and change over time," she says. "A static fish ladder just can't provide that same level of ecosystem benefit."</p>
Restoration Success<p>Despite local authorities' championing dam removal on the Middle Fork, the project has largely flown under the radar, overshadowed in the Pacific Northwest by heated discussions about a much larger potential project — removing <a href="https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/feds-reject-removal-of-4-snake-river-dams-in-key-report/" target="_blank">four federal hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River</a>, a major tributary of the Columbia River.</p><p>Proponents of dam removal there see it as the best chance for recovering threatened salmon populations, including Chinook, which could help starving Southern Resident killer whales. Those dams also provide irrigation water, barge navigation and hydropower, so there's been more pushback against removal efforts.</p><p>Previous dam removals around the country, however, have proved successful at aiding fish recovery and river restoration.</p><p>Most notably the 1999 demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/edwards-dam-removal/" target="_blank">Edwards Dam on Maine's Kennebec River</a> restored the annual run of alewives, a type of herring essential to the food web. The fish run has gone from zero to 5 million in the two decades since dam removal. Blueback herring, striped bass, sturgeon and shad have also extended their reach. And the resurgence has brought back osprey, bald eagles and other wildlife, too.</p><p>The overwhelming success of river restoration on the Kennebec helped to spur a nationwide dam removal movement that's now seen 1,200 dams come down since 1999. Last year a record <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/conservation-resource/a-record-26-states-removed-dams-in-2019/" target="_blank">90 dams</a> were removed in 26 states, including <a href="https://therevelator.org/cleveland-forest-dam-removal/" target="_blank">20 dams in California's Cleveland National Forest</a>.</p>
Spider excavators remove on dam on San Juan Creek in California's Cleveland National Forest. Julie Donnell, USFS<p>The results have been seen in the Pacific Northwest, as well, which boasts the largest dam removal thus far in the country. In 2011 and 2014, the demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/elwha-dam-removal/" target="_blank">two dams</a> on Elwha River, which runs through Washington's Olympic National Park, opened up 70 miles of habitat that had been blocked for a century. Scientists have started seeing all five species of salmon native to the river coming back, particularly Chinook and coho. Bull trout, they've observed, have increased in size since the dams were removal.</p>
Benefits on the Middle Fork Nooksack<p>McEwan hopes to see a similar outcome on the Middle Fork.</p><p>Like the Elwha the Middle Fork Nooksack is a relatively pristine river with little development, and dam removal is expected to provide a big boost to fish. The additional miles of spawning habitat are important, but so is the temperature of that water.</p><p>The dam removal will open access to cold upstream waters, which are ideal for salmon and getting harder to come by as climate change warms waters and reduces mountain runoff.</p><p>"This is really great for the climate change resiliency for these species," says McEwan.</p><p>Steelhead will get back 45% of their historic habitat in the river, and scientists expect Chinook populations to increase in abundance by 31%.</p><p>That <em>could</em> help Southern Resident killer whales.</p><p>"When you get to the ocean, it's a little bit of a black box in terms of what you can model and say definitively is going to help, but more fish is better for orcas," McEwan says.</p><p>Upstream habitat will see benefits, too.</p><p>Oceangoing fish like salmon enrich their bodies with carbon and nitrogen while at sea. When they return to their natal rivers to spawn and die, the marine-derived nutrients they carry back upriver become important food and fertilizer for both riverine and terrestrial ecosystems — aiding everything from trees to birds to bears.</p><p>"Once the fish start making their way back, it will start changing the whole ecological system," says Delgado.</p><p><span></span>But any ecological benefit from salmon restoration, either in the ocean or the upper watershed, won't be immediate.<br></p><p>"The population of salmon on the Middle Fork is so low that we expect it's going to take quite a while to rebound," she says. "But the big picture is that what's good for salmon is good for the region — our history and our destiny are intricately intertwined."</p><p>After decades of work, that process of restoration has finally begun.</p>
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By Katie Howell
A new tool called The Food Systems Dashboard aims to save decision makers time and energy by painting a complete picture of a country's food system. Created by the Johns Hopkins' Alliance for a Healthier World, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Dashboard compiles food systems data from over 35 sources and offers it as a public good.
By Manuela Callari
It can grow to a maximum of six inches (16 centimeters), change color depending on mood and habitat, and, like all seahorses, the White's seahorse male gestates its young. But this tiny snouted fish is under threat.
Building an Ocean Seahorse Destination<p>Seahorses are found in tropical and temperate coastal water worldwide, but are most abundant around Australia, China and the Philippines. </p><p>Trade in the tiny creatures is strictly regulated because of their use in traditional medicine, aquariums and their sale as dried curios. But because they are poor swimmers and cannot easily move elsewhere, habitat loss is a particular threat for these curious animals. </p><p>Seahorses wrap their tails around seagrass and corals to avoid being carried away on currents. They use the habitat to spawn and hide from predators such as crabs, while also feeding on riches of plankton and small crustaceans living in the reef.</p><p><span></span>Where corals aren't available, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/aqc.1217" target="_blank">scientists</a> found seahorses taking up residence in fishing nets and old crab traps abandoned at the bottom of the ocean. </p>
Mixing With the Locals<p>Baby seahorse mortality is high in the wild because they are easily caught, so those bred in the protected environment of the aquarium weren't ready to be released into the wild until early May.</p><p>The team released 90 new arrivals into Sydney Harbor, placing some directly into the purpose-built hotels, and others onto a net that wild seahorses had already settled on.</p><p>Before setting them free, the researchers marked each young seahorse with a fluorescent tag with unique IDs inserted just beneath the skin to track how they get on in the different environments. </p><p>"The most exciting part was being able to put these animals into the wild and then go back a month later and still see them surviving and growing," said McCracken. </p><p>The seahorses will be old enough to mate and reproduce around October or November 2020. And researchers hope that by then, they will be able to breed with the wild population. </p>
Building a Global Seahorse Hotel Chain<p>With seahorses everywhere facing the loss of their coral reef homes, similar projects have sprung up in places like Greece and South Africa, home to the world's most endangered seahorse, the Knysna seahorse. </p><p>"The endangered South African seahorse is benefiting from something quite similar, even though it wasn't intentional," said Peter Teske, professor at the Department of Zoology, University of Johannesburg.</p><p>In the South African <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322649251_An_endangered_seahorse_selectively_chooses_an_artificial_structure" target="_blank">case</a>, seahorses have bedded down in "Reno mattresses" — wire cages filled with rocks — that were used to build a new marina. Researchers from NGO Knysna Basin Project found the structures acted as a refuge for the animals.<span></span></p><p><span></span>While Teske describes the seahorse hotels as "a positive news story" and a great way to create public awareness of conservation, he added that establishing artificial habitats in some areas will only prevent the extinction of local populations.</p><p>"For a complete recovery, it is necessary to give the natural habitat a chance to regenerate," said the seahorse expert. </p>
Underwater Mascot<p>In Australia, the researchers hope the project could provide an opportunity to raise awareness not only of the plight of the Sydney seahorses but the other animals with which it shares its ocean habitat.</p><p>The waters around Sydney and the east coast are rich in biodiversity and include several threatened species like the weedy seadragon — a relative of the seahorse — and the grey nurse shark. Like the seahorse, they're also under pressure from pollution, ocean traffic and habitat loss through storms and coastal construction. </p><p>"It's a good thing to get people's support and interest. The seahorses are a useful vehicle to get people concerned if the harbor is in trouble," said David Booth, professor of marine ecology at the University of Technology Sydney who is also working on the project. </p><p>The hotels have become an attraction for divers hoping to catch a glimpse of these small but near mythical creatures. </p><p>"Everyone loves seahorses," added Booth, "they are so popular." </p>
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