Getting healthier and making changes to your diet shouldn’t have to mean giving up all the joy that can come in the form of a delicious baked treat. As we become more health conscious as a culture, products have become available to replace some of the less-than-nutritious options of the past, and oat flour is on top of our list!
Oat flour is made by finely grinding down regular dried oats into a powdery texture, and can be used in place of wheat flour in baked goods to make them more healthy. The benefits of oat flour are plentiful. Unlike wheat flour, it contains no gluten, and is deemed safe for consumption by those who have gluten intolerance/sensitivity or celiacs disease. So if you’re avoiding gluten or are generally looking to minimize carb bloat, oat flour is a great alternative!
What’s more, oat flour is super nutritious and can boost your heart health and help stabilize your blood sugar. Oats are extremely high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, containing about 12 grams of fiber per cup. Studies have shown that a high-fiber diet can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. One study on oats specifically found that consuming them helped lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Researchers hypothesize that this is probably because oats contain beta-glucan — a soluble fiber that limits the absorption of dietary cholesterol as food travels through the small intestine. Pretty impressive!
When it comes to blood sugar management, consuming enough fiber is absolutely essential. Whether you’re diabetic, prediabetic, or are generally looking to control your blood sugar levels for happy hormones and better health, adding oats to your diet is a great option. When managing blood sugar, we’re often told to stay away from consuming too many carbs, but research has shown that when consumed in moderation, oats can actually improve blood sugar levels and help you get more stable. One review of studies analyzed results from 14 controlled trials and found that moderate consumption of oats helped lower A1C and fasting blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.
When it comes to replacing wheat flour with oat flour in recipes, there are a few important things to note. Since oat flour contains no gluten, your cakes or breads will not rise as much, and some chefs adjust oat flour recipes by adding more liquid or rising agents. If you’re using a recipe that requires yeast, you’ll likely need to add a little more yeast than if you were using wheat flour. Oat flour tends to hold onto more moisture than wheat flour, too, so you could end up with a slightly more dense cake, cookies, or bread.
The best thing about oat flour is that not only is it healthier, but it tastes delicious. Oat flour is sweeter-tasting than regular white or wheat flour, so keep in mind that you may not need to add as much sweetener to your recipes. When using baking powder, use a ratio of 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder per one cup of oat flour. You can sub a portion of your all-purpose flour for oat flour, or for some recipes, replace the flour completely with oat flour (just be sure to add more liquid, as mentioned above). And if you’re ready to get started, we recommend trying out an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe using oat flour for an irresistibly chewy and healthy treat! We like this oat flour from Bob’s Red Mill ($15 for a 4-pack, Amazon).