We are Indians. And we depend on our staple diet plan to survive. Our staple meal comprises of chapatis and rice accompanied by a desirable choice of curries and dals. And to make chapatis we generally depend on wheat flour which is considered a healthier option than others. Refined flour even though made from wheat, when it is processed it takes away all the goodness.
We should stay away from the unhealthy versions that give us only unwanted added calories. Along with flattening the graph of rising cases of COVID 19, it is vital to keep the graph of our health above average which is required to fight the pandemic outbreak.
With everything coming to a standstill in the event of a lockdown, it is very important to keep a conscious watch on the intake of food. Decreased physical activity can eventually lead to the increasing waistline, which is a matter of great concern. So, why not turn to a healthy version of flour, keeping the nutrient intact.
Here are a few options you can turn to instead of refined wheat flour.
- Soy Flour– Soyflour is made by grinding roasted soybeans. With increasing awareness about health, there is a distinct shift towards soy products, including its flour. It is a great source of protein, iron, calcium, Vitamin D, folate, zinc, Vitamin K and many essential vitamins. It helps to lower cholesterol in the body. Women nearing menopause must consume soy-based foods to avoid hot flashes, mood swings, irritation, and other unwanted symptoms. Rich in high-quality protein and other nutrients, soy flour also adds a pleasant texture and flavor to foods.
- Ragi Flour– Ragi or nachni was also known as foxtail millet. It is a rare source of various nutrients. It is gluten-free and suitable for people who are lactose intolerant. It is a good source of carbohydrates and has nutrients like protein, calcium, antioxidants and dietary fibers. It provides a complete package of energy and keeps you feeling full for long. It is suitable for diabetics and helps in weight loss issues. When mixed with other flours or used in different recipes it gives a distinct taste and flavor to it.
- Quinoa Flour-Quinoa is a very effective superfood. It is gluten-free and has soluble fibers and protein. It is also a good source of iron, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus. A complete protein providing all nine essential amino necessary acids for good health. It is good for making chapatis, cakes, dosas, cutlets and more.
- Bajra Flour– Bajra flour is made from the small round grains of black millet, known as Bajra. It is greyish in color and has a slightly nutty flavor. Since it is a heat-producing ingredient, it is commonly used as winter food. Bajra is filled with fiber, is protein-rich, is naturally gluten-free and has various amino acids, antioxidants. Bajra or pearl millet has essentials minerals like magnesium, iron, and phosphorous. Because of their high nutrition profile, bajra and other millets can tackle many common illnesses like constipation, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. It is a staple ingredient to make chapatis in Rajasthan, northern and western India. Bajra has complex carbohydrates that release energy slowly. Due to which one feels fuller for a long time after a millet meal, thus making it a perfect grain for weight loss diets.
- Jowar Flour– Jowar is a staple diet in central and western India. It is an ancient grain and one of the five top cereal crops. Jowar is extremely drought tolerant, making it an excellent choice for arid and dry areas. Its flour is little denser than whole wheat, so the taste may take some time to get adjusted to. It has lots of vitamin B, calcium, fibers, iron, phosphorus, antioxidants and helps to evade the risk of heart diseases and reduces body inflammation. Jowar helps in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. The Iron content in Jowar helps prevent Anaemia and is good for bones.
- Whole wheat Flour-Whole wheat flour or popularly known as “gehun ka atta” refers to the fact that all of the grain (bran, germ, and endosperm) is used in the process of making flour and nothing is lost. This flour is milled to the coarse texture and is brown in color as it is derived from the complete wheat kernel. It is high in fiber content than white flour. Whole wheat flour is used to make Indian flatbreads like chappati, naan, puri etc. This flour helps lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Betaine content in whole wheat flour helps in lessening chronic inflammation. Consumption of this flour has shown to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart attack. Its high insoluble fiber can help women avoid gallstones and protect against breast cancer.
- Gram Flour– This flour is made from dried garbanzo beans and is naturally dense. The flour is powdery yellow and has an earthy flavor. Its the texture is stickier than all-purpose flour when added to liquids. Because of these textures, it makes a fantastic binder. It has selenium and vitamin B. The flour has known to reduce bad cholesterol levels in the blood. It minimizes the risk of colon cancer. The flour is an essential source of Folic acid, that helps in the production of red blood cells. The presence of folic acid helps to keep the brain younger. It is a gluten-free, protein-packed and the fibrous flour and serves a good substitute for refined flour. This flour act as a great thickener for sauces and soups.
- Oat Flour-Oats is considered to be healthiest among all. It has been consumed as breakfast food for centuries. They are packed with vitamins, fiber, minerals, and anti-oxidants. It helps in maintaining cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure. It is gluten-free and high in protein. Beta-glucan is a soluble fiber that dissolves in water helps to reduce blood sugar and feel full for longer. Present in oats beta-glucan promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria helping to regulate your bowels. It can be used to thicken soups, gravies and make healthy snacks like cutlets, rolls, and pancakes.
9.Buckwheat Flour– Buckwheat is not related to wheat in any way as is suggested by the name. It is a pseudocereal like amaranth and quinoa. Buckwheat is actually a seed. The flour is used in noodles, flour or even as flakes, making it a versatile substitute for wheat flour. It is a great source of fiber, magnesium, and essential amino acids. It is a good substitute for refined flour.
10. Amaranth Flour– Popularly known as “Rajgira ka atta” is commonly used during fasts. This flour is very important for bone health. It has more calcium, magnesium, iron, carotenoids, fiber than most veggies and grains. It is one of the most protein-packed plant foods and has vitamin C and vitamin B6. Rajgira is a good source of health-promoting antioxidants. Consuming Amaranth could reduce Inflammation in the body.
Refined flour is highly processed and carbohydrate-dense flour from which the nutritious goodness of germ and bran, fibers and phytonutrients are removed. It also has a lot of gluten. Flours have different glycemic indexes which tell us about how much blood sugar will rise after it’s consumption. Foods break down in our mouth with the help of digestive enzymes present in the saliva.
The unhealthy flour varieties do so faster than their healthier versions which break down slowly in the small intestine giving energy for a longer duration of time. Wheat flour too is not the healthiest option to pick from given choices. It breaks down rapidly into simple sugars and raises blood sugar levels. When this happens the pancreas releases insulin to control it.
When we keep eating wheat flour products our cells may become saturated with sugar wanting no more of it. Then cells become more resistant to insulin and the pancreas has to work harder to pump more of it. This leads to a condition called diabetes and the subsequent monitoring of blood sugar levels. So, the need arises to introduce healthier versions and varieties of flours on which we can rely to stay healthy and active.