Flour is a pantry staple used for making desserts, baked goods, casseroles, and pasta.

Yet, some types of flour are healthier than others. For example, white and all-purpose flours are less healthy, as they’re refined to remove the bran and germ, which store most of its fiber and nutrients, from the wheat.

As such, many people are interested in replacing white flour with more wholesome options for baking and cooking.

In fact, some popular flours aren’t made from grains at all, but rather nuts or seeds.

Here are 5 of the healthiest flours for every purpose, plus their nutrient profiles.

Coconut flour is a grain- and gluten-free flour made by grinding dried coconut meat into a soft, fine powder.

It’s more calorie-dense than traditional grain-based flours and a good source of protein, fat, fiber, and minerals like iron and potassium.

Unlike grain flours, coconut flour contains a substantial amount of fat. This fat is primarily saturated and largely comprised of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which may reduce inflammation and support healthy metabolism (1, 2).

Although it’s controversial, saturated fat from coconut likely affects your health differently than fast food, fried foods, and processed meats — and may even offer benefits (3, 4).

Coconut flour is also rich in antioxidants and appears to have antimicrobial properties (5).

A 1/2-cup (64-gram) serving provides (6):

  • Calories: 210
  • Protein: 8.5 grams
  • Fat: 13 grams
  • Carbs: 34 grams
  • Fiber: 25 grams
  • Iron: 22% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Potassium: 18% of the DV

Coconut flour has a mildly sweet flavor that lends itself to cakes, cookies, breads, and other baked goods.

It tends to have a gritty texture and absorb a lot of liquid, which may dry out some baked goods. Thus, it works best in dishes that use eggs to maintain moisture and structure, such as muffins.

When substituting coconut flour for wheat flour, use about 1/4 of what the recipe calls for, then replace the remaining 3/4 with another type of flour.

Additionally, because it needs more liquid than other flours, add 1 egg per 1/4 cup (32 grams) of coconut flour in baked goods.

SUMMARY

Coconut flour is gluten-free and a good source of fat, protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Its mildly sweet flavor works best in baked goods like cakes, cookies, and muffins.

Almond flour is made by grinding blanched almonds into a fine powder. As it doesn’t contain grains, it’s naturally gluten-free.

Note that almond flour is different than almond meal, which is a coarser ingredient made by grinding almonds with their skins still intact.

Almond flour is a good source of magnesium, omega-3 unsaturated fats, plant protein, and vitamin E — a powerful antioxidant. Keep in mind that almonds, like other nuts and seeds, are high in calories.

The nutrients in this flour offer several benefits, such as improved insulin resistance, as well as lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure. Almonds may also protect brain health, as vitamin E may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s (7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

A 1/2-cup (56-gram) serving of almond flour offers (12):

  • Calories: 340
  • Protein: 12 grams
  • Fat: 30 grams
  • Carbs: 12 grams
  • Fiber: 4 grams
  • Calcium: 5% of the DV
  • Iron: 6% of the DV
  • Potassium: 8% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 65% of the DV
  • Vitamin E: 100% of the DV

Almond flour has a nutty flavor and is easy to use. In most recipes, you can simply substitute almond flour for wheat flour at an equal ratio.

It works well in baked goods like pancakes, cookies, scones, and biscuits, plus certain savory foods like homemade pasta and meatballs.

SUMMARY

Almond flour is grain- and gluten-free, as well as a good source of protein, unsaturated fat, magnesium, and vitamin E. Its nutty flavor suits a wide range of baked goods and savory dishes.

Quinoa flour is made by grinding quinoa to make a fine powder.

This gluten-free pseudocereal is widely considered a whole grain, which means that it hasn’t been processed and refined, leaving its original nutrients intact.

Notably, it’s a good source of protein, fiber, iron, and unsaturated fats. Furthermore, it boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may benefit digestive health, inhibit tumor growth, and lower overall disease risk (13, 14).

A 1/2-cup (56-gram) serving of quinoa flour provides (15):

  • Calories: 200
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Carbs: 38 grams
  • Fiber: 6 grams
  • Iron: 33% of the DV
  • Potassium: 4% of the DV

Quinoa flour lends a moist, tender texture to baked goods. Substitute it for half the amount of wheat flour in most recipes.

Some people find this flour bitter, but you can diminish the aftertaste by toasting it on a dry skillet over medium heat for 5–10 minutes, stirring gently, before adding it to your recipe.

Quinoa flour is great for pancakes, muffins, and pizza and pie crusts. You can also use it to thicken soups and sauces.

SUMMARY

Quinoa flour is a grain-based, gluten-free flour that’s high in protein, iron, fiber, and unsaturated fats. It gives a fluffy texture to baked goods, as well as pizza and pie crusts, in addition to serving as a thickener for soups and sauces.

Buckwheat flour is made from ground buckwheat, a plant known for its grain-like seeds. Despite its name, buckwheat is unrelated to wheat and therefore gluten-free.

Buckwheat flour has an earthy flavor and is used to make traditional Japanese soba noodles. It’s a good source of fiber, protein, and micronutrients like manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, and phosphorus.

Research shows that this flour may reduce blood sugar in people with diabetes and improve biomarkers of heart health. It may also have anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and prebiotic properties (16, 17, 18).

Prebiotics are a type of fiber that feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut, which support digestive health (19).

A 1/2-cup (60-gram) serving of buckwheat flour offers (20):

  • Calories: 200
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Carbs: 44 grams
  • Fiber: 6 grams
  • Iron: 17% of the DV
  • Manganese: 34% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 33% of the DV
  • Copper: 73% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 17% of the DV

For best results, buckwheat flour should be used in combination with other whole grain flours, comprising 25–50% of the total flour in a recipe.

It works well in pancakes and quick breads and makes a delectable crumb coating for meat or other proteins.

SUMMARY

Buckwheat flour is rich in fiber, protein, and numerous minerals. Known for its use in soba noodles, it’s also a tasty addition to baked goods and crumb coatings.

Wheat flour is in most baked goods you’ll find at bakeries and supermarkets.

Yet, whole wheat and white flour are vastly different. Whereas the whole wheat version is made by grinding entire wheat kernels into a powder, white flour removes the most nutrient-rich parts — the bran and germ (21).

Thus, whole wheat flour is widely considered healthier.

It’s a good source of protein, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. As it contains gluten, it isn’t appropriate for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

A 1/2-cup (60-gram) serving of 100% whole wheat flour provides (22):

  • Calories: 200
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbs: 42 grams
  • Fiber: 8 grams
  • Iron: 11% of the DV
  • Potassium: 5% of the DV

Whole wheat flour can be used in equal amounts as white or all-purpose flour in any recipe. Bear in mind that it gives a less fluffy texture than white flour because it’s unrefined.

You can enjoy it in homemade breads, muffins, cakes, cookies, rolls, pizza dough, pancakes, and waffles.

SUMMARY

Whole wheat flour is rich in protein, fiber, and several minerals, especially compared with refined white flour. It’s extremely versatile and can be used in numerous baked goods and doughs.

Healthy flours are more widely available today than ever before.

Traditional flours are made from wheat, but many others come from nuts and naturally gluten-free grains, such as coconut, quinoa, almonds, and buckwheat. Each kind offers a unique taste and nutrient profile.

You can experiment with different flours to find the ones that suit your recipes best. Their ratios aren’t interchangeable, so be sure to look up conversions when you’re baking.