Flour is a staple in cooking and baking and has been used as far back as 6000 B.C.! Over time, more flours have made their way into popularity, especially with gluten-free and other health trends in recent decades.
The carb content of flour varies a lot, so we’ve compiled a list of the five highest and lowest-carb flours! Here they are in order from lowest to highest total carbohydrate count per ¼ cup:
- Vital wheat gluten flour (4 grams)
- Almond flour (5 grams)
- Flaxseed flour [meal] (8 grams)
- Soy flour (8 grams)
- Peanut flour (11 grams)
- Cassava flour (31 grams)
- Semolina flour (33 grams)
- Rice flour (34 grams)
- Potato flour (38 grams)
- Banana flour (40 grams)
A refresher on carbohydrates
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of which flours are high and low in carbs, let’s do a quick refresher on what carbs are.
Carbohydrates (carbs) are one of the three main macronutrients your body needs for energy (the other two are protein and fat). Carbs are further broken down into three main types:
(The total of these three comprises the “total carbohydrate” count of a food!)
Starch is a natural component of most plant foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Some foods are higher in starch than others, like potatoes, which are considered a “starchy vegetable”.
The other types of carbs (sugar and fiber) vary depending on the carb source. For instance, fruit is high in sugar, while whole grains are higher in fiber.
Why are carbs important?
Carbs get a lot of attention in the nutrition world, and here are a couple of the biggest reasons.
- Some people limit carbohydrates for medical reasons, such as having diabetes or other blood sugar imbalances. (Carbohydrates are broken down into blood sugar when you digest them, so they have the biggest impact on your blood sugar levels.)
- People following low-carb or ketogenic diets limit their carbohydrate intake. Followers of these low-carb diets feel like eating a low-carb diet is better for their health and/or weight loss goals.
Another term you might hear a lot in low-carb diets is the “net carbohydrate” count, which is the total grams of carbohydrates minus the dietary fiber. This is the amount that will impact your blood sugar levels since fiber isn’t digested, so it can’t raise your blood sugar.
For instance, if one cup of flour has 30 grams of carbohydrates but 7 of them come from fiber, then the net carb count is 23 grams of carbs!
Carbohydrates in flour
Flour is made from ground-up grains, nuts, and seeds, among other things. Traditionally flour was primarily made from wheat, but over time many other types of flour have been introduced, some of which are lower and higher in carbs than regular wheat flour.
Flour made from sources like grains and starchy vegetables are the highest in carbs while those made from nuts, seeds, and other lower-starch sources tend to be lower in carbs.
5 lower-carb flours
- Vital wheat gluten flour (4 grams of carbs per ¼ cup)
Vital wheat gluten flour is made from the highest protein part of regular wheat, which helps add an elastic texture to dough and chewiness to baked goods. Vital wheat gluten is usually combined with other flour in recipes, but you can also use it alone to make seitan, a vegan meat substitute.
- Almond flour (5 grams of carbs per ¼ cup)
Almond flour is one of the lowest-carb flour on our list with only five grams of total carbs (two grams of net carbs) per ¼ cup. Almond flour is a popular flour for low-carb and gluten-free baking thanks to its low carb content, and it’s also a good source of fiber and protein.
- Flaxseed flour [meal] – (8 grams of carbs per ¼ cup)
Flaxseed meal is sometimes called flaxseed flour and is made from grinding up flax seeds. Flaxseed meal isn’t typically used on its own as flour but is usually added to recipes using other types of flour.
Flaxseed meal offers a nutty flavor and can boost the fiber and healthy fat content in baked goods and other recipes, as well as acting as a binder and vegan egg substitute. Thanks to its high fiber content, the net carb content in a half cup of flaxseed meal is only two grams!
- Soy flour (10 grams of carbs per ¼ cup)
With four grams of net carbs per ¼ cup, soy flour can replace up to around 30% of the wheat flour in recipes, according to one manufacturer. Soy flour is extremely high in protein with 15 grams per ¼ cup because it’s made from roasted soybeans, a protein-rich legume.
- Peanut flour (11 grams of carbs per ¼ cup)
With 6 grams of net carbs per quarter cup, peanut flour is one of the highest protein flours around with 14 grams in the same serving.
Like flaxseed flour, peanut flour isn’t typically used as a standalone flour. Made from peanuts with the fat removed, peanut flour offers a peanut flavor as well as protein to baked goods. It can also be used to thicken sauces, and when mixed with water it’s a low-fat peanut butter alternative.
5 high-carb flours
- Banana flour (40 grams of carbs per 1/4 cup)
Banana flour is made from green bananas, which are higher in starch and lower in sugar than ripe yellow bananas. You can use banana flour in sweet and savory dishes, but thanks to its high starch content it’s high in carbs.
- Potato flour (38 grams of carbs per ¼ cup)
Potatoes are a starchy vegetable, so it’s no surprise that potatoes top the list of high-carb flours with 38 grams per ¼ cup. Potato flour is a popular ingredient in gluten-free foods thanks to the moisture it promotes and its long shelf life.
- Rice flour (34 grams of carbs per ¼ cup)
Both rice flour and brown rice flour are high in carbs since rice is a starch (like bread). Rice flour is a popular gluten-free alternative and is a good option for gluten-free baking such as muffins, pancakes, and gluten-free bread.
- Semolina flour (33 grams of carbs per ¼ cup)
Semolina flour is made from hard durum wheat, a type of wheat that is high in gluten and protein. Because it’s high in gluten, semolina is a great type of flour for making homemade pasta since the gluten content gives it an elastic, chewy texture.
- Cassava flour (31 grams of carbs per ¼ cup)
Another gluten-free flour, cassava flour is another good option for gluten-free uses like tortillas, pancakes, pizza crust, and more. Cassava flour is made from the dried cassava plant, a root vegetable high in resistant starch (a type of starch that is resistant to digestion, similar to fiber).
Comparison of flours from lowest to highest carbs
Here is a comparison of all of these flours from lowest to highest total carbohydrates. The portion size is ¼ cup/~30 grams.
|Flour||Calories||Total carbs||Fiber||Net carbs||Fat||Protein|
|Vital wheat gluten flour||120||4 g||0 g||4 g||1 g||23 g|
|Almond flour||170||5 g||3 g||2 g||15 g||6 g|
|Flaxseed flour (meal)||140||8 g||6 g||2 g||9 g||6 g|
|Soy flour||100||10 g||5 g||5 g||0 g||15 g|
|Peanut flour||130||11 g||5 g||6 g||4 g||14 g|
|Cassava flour||130||31 g||2 g||29 g||0 g||0 g|
|Semolina flour||160||33 g||1 g||32 g||1 g||6 g|
|Rice flour||150||34 g||0 g||34 g||0 g||2 g|
|Potato flour||160||38 g||3 g||35 g||0 g||3 g|
|Banana flour||160||40 g||<1 g||40 g||0 g||1 g|