The glycemic index varies a LOT among flours, so it can be helpful to have an idea of which flours have the lowest and highest glycemic indexes if that’s something you try to be aware of.
Some of the lowest glycemic index flours include hemp flour, pecan flour, arrowroot flour, and almond flour (among many others!). Some of the highest glycemic index flours include bread flour, potato flour, white rice flour, and all-purpose flour, among several others.
In this article, we’ll review 15 flours that have a low glycemic index, as well as ten flours that rank as high glycemic index.
What is the glycemic index?
Before we dive into which flours are high and low on the glycemic index scale, let’s do a quick refresher course on what the glycemic index is!
The glycemic index (GI) is a way of measuring how much a single food affects your blood sugar levels compared to pure glucose (blood sugar), which has a GI of 100. Foods that are digested quickly tend to raise your blood sugar more steeply, giving them higher glycemic indexes.
Foods can be classified as low, medium, or high glycemic index based on this scale:
- Low GI: 1 to 55
- Medium GI: 56 to 69
- High GI: 70 and higher
How accurate is the glycemic index?
When it comes to the glycemic index of different types of flour, it’s important to note that the glycemic index only applies to the plain flour on its own. When you bake or cook with flour, you’re adding other ingredients which can impact the overall impact it has on your blood sugar.
For instance, you can use a low glycemic index flour for cookies, but the addition of ingredients like sugar and butter will change how quickly the cookies raise your blood sugar and thus the glycemic index.
It can still be helpful to choose flours based on their glycemic index even though other factors come into play. You might choose low GI flours if you have problems with your blood sugar, or for other health or personal reasons.
For this article, we’re using flours that either have established glycemic index values for the flour itself, or a glycemic index exists for the source of the flour.
Low glycemic index flours
- Hemp flour – hemp seeds glycemic index=4
Hemp seeds have an incredibly low glycemic index, so it’s no surprise that hemp flour is a low glycemic index flour.
- Pecan flour – pecans glycemic index=10
Similar to almond flour, pecans are high in fat and low in carbs, making the glycemic index very low.
- Arrowroot powder (flour) – glycemic index=14
Arrowroot flour (starch/powder) is a gluten-free and corn-free starch with a low glycemic index.
- Almond flour – almonds glycemic index=15
Thanks to its high fat and fiber content, almond flour is a great low-glycemic, gluten-free flour.
- Peanut flour – peanuts glycemic index=15
Made from defatted peanuts, peanut flour is very high in protein with very few carbs.
- Cashew flour – cashews glycemic index=25
Cashew flour isn’t high in fiber, but its high fat and protein content helps keep the glycemic index low.
- Soy flour – glycemic index=25
Soy is rich in plant-based protein, making it a popular choice among plant-based dieters. Soy flour is a good source of protein and fiber, making it a low glycemic index flour.
- Mung bean flour – mung beans glycemic index=~25-31
Used as starch in many Asian dishes, mung bean flour is considered low GI.
- Barley flour – glycemic index=30
Whole-grain barley flour isn’t gluten-free, but it’s a good alternative to all-purpose flour because it’s higher in fiber.
- Chestnut flour – glycemic index=30
Use low-glycemic index chestnut flour to add a nutty flavor to baked goods like cookies, cakes, and other sweet bread.
- Chickpea flour – glycemic index=35
Legumes like chickpeas are naturally rich in fiber and protein, helping to keep a low glycemic index for chickpea flour.
- Flaxseed flour (meal) – flaxseeds glycemic index=35
Flaxseed meal is great at binding liquids and can be used as a vegan egg substitute in recipes. It’s high in unsaturated fats, fiber, and protein with a very low net carb count, making flaxseed meal a low glycemic index flour.
- Sunflower seed flour – sunflower seeds glycemic index=35
Sunflower seed flour is low in net carbs (total carbs minus dietary fiber) and is also high in fat and protein.
- Apple flour – raw apple glycemic index~36
Even though apples are a source of natural sugar, they’re also a great source of fiber, which helps slow the glycemic response for apple flour.
- Oat flour – glycemic index=44
Made from finely-ground oats, oat flour is a great whole grain gluten-free flour that contains three grams of fiber per ¼ cup serving.
High glycemic index flours
The following flours have a glycemic index of at least 70, which is the beginning of the “high” GI range.
- Corn flour – glycemic index=70
Corn is a starchy vegetable, which means it contains more carbohydrates than other veggies. Corn flour is considered high glycemic index, but is lower than all-purpose flour (you’ll see it on this list soon!).
- Tapioca flour (starch) – glycemic index=70
A popular gluten-free and corn-free thickener, tapioca flour is made from the cassava plant. It has a higher glycemic index than cassava flour (GI=46).
- Fufu flour – glycemic index=84
Fufu flour is made from plantains (tropical fruit similar to bananas) and is usually mixed with other flours like cassava and potato flour.
- All-purpose flour – glycemic index=85
Likely the most common type of flour (also called “regular” flour), all-purpose flour is made from refined wheat. Refining raises the glycemic index since protein and fiber are removed with the stripping of the bran and germ layers of the wheat kernel.
- Instant, cake, & pastry flours – glycemic index=around 85
Cake and pastry flours are similar to all-purpose flour, but they are lower in protein/gluten to provide a more delicate crumb (cake flour is the lowest in protein/gluten). Instant flour is similar to all-purpose flour, but it is low in protein and pregelatinized which allows it to easily dissolve and be mixed into things like sauces and roux.
- Bread flour – glycemic index=90
Bread flour is made from enriched flour that is higher in protein than all-purpose flour, making it suitable for bread making since it’s higher in gluten.
- Potato flour – glycemic index=95
Potato flour is a popular gluten-free alternative, but it has an even higher glycemic index than all-purpose flour.
- White rice flour – glycemic index=88-95
White rice flour is a common gluten-free flour alternative and comes with a high glycemic index.
Hemp flour, pecan flour, arrowroot flour (starch), and almond flour are among some of the lowest glycemic index flours.
The glycemic index of flour varies depending on the type. Refined, low-fiber flours tend to have higher glycemic indexes while low-carb/high-fiber flours tend to have lower glycemic indexes.