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Brown Rice Flour: The Gluten-free Flour Alternative

Brown flour is the lightest of all the whole grain flours that can add texture, nutrition, and subtle flavour to many baked goods. Like any other whole grain flour, brown rice flour contains the exterior bran-rich layer of the grain, making it more nutritious than white rice flour. Brown rice flour has a slightly gritty texture with bone-white colour and has a mild, toasty flavour. However, the taste often ranges from clean and creamy to nutty. It is gluten-free and can enhance lightness in cakes or crispness in cookies. You can use it in place of all-purpose flour to make gluten-free foods.

As the name implies, brown rice flour comes from grinding brown rice into a fine powder. Since brown rice is a whole grain with bran, endosperm, and germ, its flour is preferable for those seeking a more nutritious option. The process of making brown rice flour is relatively simple. Those who are gluten-intolerant or have celiac disease can use brown rice flour as it doesn’t contain the gluten protein that’s typically present in wheat-based products. Therefore, it is popular in various recipes, including pasta, cakes, bread, and cookies.

Nutritional Profile of Brown Rice Flour

According to USDA, 100 grams of brown rice flour contains the following nutrients.

Calories: 350 KcalCarbohydrates: 77.5gProtein: 7.5gFat: 2.5gFibre: 5gIron: 1.8mgSodium: 12mgPotassium: 289 mgMagnesium: 112 mg

The HealthifyMe Note

Brown rice flour has fewer calories than almond flour, one of the most popular gluten-free flour. One hundred grams of brown rice flour and almond flour contain 350 and 571 calories, respectively. However, it has less protein and iron than any other flour. 

Potential Benefits of Brown Rice Flour

Brown Rice Flour is Gluten-Free

One of the substantial benefits of brown rice flour is that it does not contain gluten. It is a gluten-free alternative with fewer calories than almond and white flour. Unlike wheat and rye, anyone suffering from gluten intolerance and Celiac disease find brown rice flour the better choice. 

Brown Rice Flour is a Functional Food Ingredient

Functional food ingredients are ingredients that have the potential to influence the nutritional value of traditional foods. Foods containing a functional ingredient offer health-promoting properties over and above their nutritional value. A study shows that fermented brown rice flour is a functional food ingredient for white rice flour, white rice batter and steamed white bread products. The results encourage the usage of brown rice flour to enhance the quality of rice products.

Promotes Healthy Digestion

As brown rice flour is rich in fibre, it helps improve the digestive system. It contains 5 gramsof fibre per 100-gram serving, compared with the 2.7g present in white flour. Fibre is an indigestible carbohydrate that makes you feel more satiated and can help normalise bowel health. So if constipation is a problem, brown rice flour can help, along with nuts, beans and vegetables. 

Is  Good for  the Heart

A study shows that the physicochemical nature of brown rice flour supports heart health. In addition, brown rice flour is a spectacular source of potassium and helps you get closer to your daily nutrient goals. Potassium is an essential electrolyte that manages heart health, among many other functions. Apart from supplying potassium, the magnesium content in brown rice flour helps keep your heart beating steady. 

Provides Antioxidants

Brown rice flour has antioxidant properties. That is because of the presence of phytochemicals mainly located in the bran layer, i.e. the outer layer of brown rice. It helps prevent cell injury caused by unstable molecules called free radicals and thereby reduces the inflammation in the body.

Weight Loss Friendly

Dietary fibre is an essential part of any weight loss eating plan. The fibre in brown rice flour keeps you satiated over a long period. And this means consuming fewer calories. Substituting brown rice flour for wheat can help with weight loss by making you feel fuller and reducing hunger. It is also one of the healthiest types of gluten-free flour, with fewer calories than refined ones. 

Control Cholesterol Level

Brown rice flour ensures low cholesterol levels because the natural oil in brown rice flour reduces the harmful cholesterol level. In addition, the fibre in brown rice holds the cholesterol in the digestive system and helps in its excretion. Research says it contains no unhealthy fats, raising low-density or bad cholesterol. 

How Do You Make Brown Rice Flour?

You can make brown rice flour entirely from brown rice. Homemade brown rice flour is a perfect solution when you cannot find certified gluten-free brown rice flour or if it is too expensive. 

Here are the steps to make brown rice flour at home.

Wash your brown rice to remove dirt. Use a clean towel to pat the washed rice and remove excess water. Roast the brown rice in a preheated oven at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, remove it from the oven, and allow the rice to cool completely.Place the rice into the blender and process.After reaching a fine flour-like consistency, transfer the flour into a dry airtight container and seal tightly. Store in a cool dark place like a pantry for two weeks or in the refrigerator for 3-6 months. You can also keep it in the freezer for about a year.

The HealthifyMe Note

The shelf life of brown rice flour in the pantry depends on the humidity in your house. Moreover, brown rice has natural oils that can quickly go rancid. Therefore, the preferred shelf life is usually about two weeks in the pantry. To reduce the rancidity rate, refrigerate or freeze the brown rice flour. 

Healthy Recipes Using Brown Rice Flour

Brown Rice Flour Pancakes

Serves: 8 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

Brown rice flour: 1½ cupsBaking powder: 3½ teaspoonsMilk (For a dairy-free option, you can use oat or soy milk.): 1¼ cupsSalt: ¼ teaspoon Egg: 1Cinnamon: ½ tsp

Cinnamon adds sweetness and flavour without adding actual sugar. You can add toppings like bananas, strawberries or blueberries as natural sugar. 

Method of Preparation

Add all the wet ingredients to a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Then, add the dry ingredients.Combine everything, and it should be free of any large clumps.Pour the pancake mix onto a pan on low to medium heat.  Flip over and cook for another minute as air bubbles appear or until golden brown.Serve with some fresh fruits.

Brown Rice Flour Tortillas

Servings: 6 tortillas

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

Brown rice flour: 1 ½ cupSea salt or rock salt: ½ tspWater: 1 cup

Method of Preparation

Whisk brown rice flour, water, and salt in a small mixing bowl. Knead the dough and let it rest for a few minutes while the skillet heats up.Add more water, 1 tbsp at a time, if the dough feels too dry.Divide the dough into six equal-sized balls. Place them on a tortilla presser or manually press them to form a thin, round tortilla.Cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

Potential Downsides of Brown Rice Flour

Digestive Problems

Brown rice flour contains a great source of fibre. However, it might cause digestive problems such as bloating and diarrhoea for those who have sensitive digestive systems. Since brown rice has the bran and germ intact, its flour also contains the same. The bran and germ can also irritate the digestive tract, causing constipation, gas troubles, and leaky gut syndrome. 

Reduce Nutrient Absorption

Brown rice flour contains antinutrient compounds, which tend to reduce the absorption of nutrients in the food. In addition, brown rice flour is high in phytic acid, which can bind and reduce minerals’ absorption. A study shows that phytic acid in brown rice flour inhibits the absorption of iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and manganese. 

Might Spike Blood Sugar Levels

Whether consuming brown or white rice flour, the portion matters. A study shows that large amounts of whole grains and whole grain-based foods, including brown rice flour, can still spike blood glucose levels. However, it is perfectly safe to eat in moderation if you have diabetes. 

Has Fewer Phytonutrients

Both brown rice flour and whole grain wheat flour provide lignans, the important cancer-fighting phytonutrients. However, whole grain wheat flour has 30% more phytonutrients than brown rice flour. Moreover, brown rice flour falls short when it comes to folate. 

Conclusion

There are countless varieties of flour available on the market, and brown rice flour is one such variety. It is more nutritious than regular rice flour and an invaluable ingredient in gluten-free recipes. Brown rice flour is a highly nutritious, gluten-free grain flour that contains a high-quality type of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and beneficial compounds. In short, the primary benefit of brown rice flour is that it has fewer calories and more fibre, forming an alternative to white flour. For those seeking a gluten-free alternative, brown rice flour can be the healthiest option. However, the portion size matters as excessive consumption lead to adverse effects.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is brown rice flour good for you?

A. Brown rice flour is an excellent source of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, particularly magnesium and potassium. It is the best option for weight loss diets and those seeking a gluten-free alternative. 

Q. What are the disadvantages of brown rice?

A. Brown rice contains fewer phytonutrients and folate. In addition, it has phytic acid, which is an antinutrient in nature. Therefore, it inhibits the absorption of iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and manganese.  

Q. Is brown rice flour healthier than whole wheat flour?

A. Regarding vitamin content, brown rice and whole wheat have similar nutritional values, except for folate and lignans. Both grains are a good energy source, providing thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin. In addition, they both have a small amount of vitamin E. But whole wheat flour is a better source of folate and lignans.  

Q. What is the brown rice flour used for?

A. Brown rice flour is 100% stone ground from the highest quality whole grain brown rice and has a mild, nutty flavour. You can use this versatile gluten-free flour for thickening sauces and gravies and gluten-free baking recipes like brown rice flour pancakes, muffins, and gluten-free bread.

Q. Is brown rice flour anti-inflammatory?

A. Brown rice flour is high in fibre and helps with inflammation. In addition, brown rice flour is rich in anthocyanins, a group of flavonoid plant pigments with powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Anthocyanins have potent anti-cancer properties as well. 

Q. Is brown rice flour easy to digest?

A. Brown rice flour is an excellent source of fibre, which not only improves digestive health but also reduces cholesterol levels. In addition, it regulates bowel movement. Dietary fibre is associated with overall metabolic, gut, and other positive health benefits. However, people with a sensitive digestive system might find brown rice flour hard to digest.  

Q. Does brown rice flour have protein?

A. According to USDA, brown rice flour contains 7.5g of protein per 100 grams serving. However, it lacks gluten, a type of protein found in wheat. As a result, brown rice flour is a gluten-free flour with a considerable amount of protein. 

Q. Is brown rice flour good for weight loss?

A. Brown rice flour contains more fibre than refined, polished, or white rice. Choosing fibre-rich entire grains like brown rice flour may reduce belly fat and help lose weight. In addition, it contains fewer calories with essential nutrients. Therefore it is the best substitute for white rice and great for losing weight.

Q. Can you substitute brown rice flour for all-purpose flour?

A. Yes, you can substitute brown rice flour into any recipe that uses all-purpose. However, brown rice flour lacks the binding ability of regular all-purpose flour. But you can use it in combination with an all-purpose one. You can start by replacing one-quarter of the amount of all-purpose flour. For example, use ¼ cup brown rice flour plus ¾ cup all-purpose flour for a recipe that calls for one cup all-purpose flour. 

Q. Is there a difference between rice flour and brown rice flour?

A. Most people use the term rice flour for brown rice flour. However, it can also mean white rice flour. Brown rice flour contains no gluten, while white rice flour contains no bran. The bran is persistent in the flour made from brown rice. As a result, brown rice flour has a denser, more profound, nuttier taste, while white rice flour has a light texture and neutral flavour. 

Q. Is brown rice flour suitable for the face?

A. Brown rice flour is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent that prevents skin ageing and reduces UV damage. People can use it as a natural exfoliant. However, it might not be suitable for sensitive and dry skin. 

Q. What is the nutritional value of brown rice flour?

A. According to USDA, 100g serving of brown rice flour contains nearly 77.5 g of carbohydrates and 7.5 g of protein. It also provides 5 grams of dietary fibre with no gluten. Another nutritional value of brown rice flour is that it has fewer calories than white flour and almond flour.

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