All-Purpose Flour Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Flour annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

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Almost everyone consumes flour at some point. It is the basis for most baked goods, like bread and cookies, and it is also used as a key ingredient when battering and frying meat, seafood, or vegetables. The carbs and calories in flour and other flour nutrition facts depend (in part) on the type of flour that is used. All-purpose flour is one of the most common varieties.

All-purpose flour is typically made from a blend of hard wheat and soft wheat. During processing, the bran (which provides fiber) and germ are removed. The remaining endosperm is ground into a versatile product for baking and cooking called all-purpose flour.

All-purpose flour may be bleached or unbleached. Some all-purpose flour is enriched—meaning that certain vitamins and minerals are added back during production. Bleached, enriched all-purpose flour provides carbohydrates, some protein, and nutrients including thiamin, folate, and selenium.

All-Purpose Flour Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (125g) of all-purpose white flour.

  • Calories: 455
  • Fat: 1.2g
  • Sodium: 2.5mg
  • Carbohydrates: 95.4g
  • Fiber: 3.4g
  • Sugars: 0.3g
  • Protein: 12.9g
  • Thiamin: 1.0mg
  • Folate: 229mcg
  • Selenium: 42.4mcg


Carbs

There are 95.4 grams of carbohydrate in a cup of flour. Of that, 3.4 grams comes from fiber, which would represent about 12% of the daily value (DV) if you consume a full cup. But few people consume a cup of flour in a single sitting. A quarter cup of flour provides 3% of the daily value or 0.9 grams of fiber.

A very small amount of the carbs in flour come from sugar (0.3 grams). Most of the carbohydrate In flour is starch, making this a high-glycemic food.

Fats

All-purpose flour is a naturally low-fat food. A one-cup serving provides just 1.2 grams of fat.

Protein

There are 12.9 grams of protein in a cup of all-purpose flour. A more typical serving (about 1/4 cup) would provide 4.3 grams of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

A cup of flour can provide significant micronutrients. For instance, it has 1 gram of thiamin (vitamin B1), which is 85% of the daily value (DV). It also has 42.4 mcg of selenium (77% DV) and 229 mcg of folate (57% DV). Flour also provides riboflavin, niacin, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

Calories

Almost all of the calories in all-purpose flour come from carbohydrates. A one-cup serving provides 455 calories and 381 of those calories (or 83%) come from carbs; 52 calories (or 11%) come from protein and the remaining calories come from fat.

But there are many different varieties of flour that you might use to bake or prepare foods. It's helpful to compare common types of flour and their calories and nutrient variations.

Flour Calories and Nutrition Facts by Type (per cup; nutrition facts from the USDA):

  • Almond flour: 640 calories, 24g protein, 24g carbohydrate, 12g fiber, 56g fat
  • Semolina flour: 601 calories, 21g protein, 122g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 1.8g fat
  • White cake flour: 496 calories, 11g protein, 107g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 1gfat
  • Whole grain whole wheat flour: 408 calories, 16g protein, 86g carbohydrate, 13g fiber, 3g fat

Health Benefits

Health experts generally advise increased intake of whole grains and reduced intake of refined grains (like white flour) to reduce the risk of some diseases, including cancer. And the USDA suggests that you make at least half of your grains whole grains.

Most of the research investigating health benefits of flour involve whole wheat varieties. Studies on all-purpose flour are lacking. But there are many known health benefits of consuming the nutrients in all-purpose flour.

Supports Heart Health

Thiamin is a mineral that is important for proper cell function. According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly 21% to 98% of people with heart failure have poor thiamin status. Insufficient dietary intake is one of the reasons for this deficiency .

While thiamin supplements may benefit people with heart failure, making sure you get enough thiamin from food can also to prevent a thiamin deficiency.

Selenium is another mineral found in all-purpose flour that may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Results from studies so far have been mixed, but research is ongoing to how selenium in food and dietary supplements affects heart health.

May Help Reduce Cognitive Decline

Some studies suggest an association between low folate levels and poor cognitive function, a higher risk of dementia, and a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers theorize that elevated homocysteine levels play a role. Homocysteine is an amino acid and folic acid can play a role in lowering levels in the blood.

Studies have provided mixed results on the effect of supplementation. But consuming foods with folic acid may help you to maintain adequate levels.

Some limited studies also suggest that thiamin deficiency might play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

May Decrease Cancer Risk

Several nutrients in enriched all-purpose flour may help to reduce the risk of cancer.

For instance, selenium plays an important role in DNA repair and proper immune function. Research has suggested that these roles as well as the antioxidant properties of selenium may help in cancer prevention. And some epidemiological studies have suggested that people with higher intakes of the mineral have a lower risk of certain cancers and a lower cancer mortality risk.

When scientists have studied selenium supplementation, studies have yielded mixed results. But getting enough selenium in the diet can help prevent a deficiency.

The National Institutes of Health also reports that folate naturally present in food may decrease the risk of several forms of cancer. Studies investigating dietary folate from enriched foods and folic acid supplements are needed.

May Reduce Risk of Depression

Folate may help reduce your risk of depression and may be able to help with depression management if you have been diagnosed with the condition.

According to the NIH, "people with low blood levels of folate might be more likely to have depression. In addition, they might not respond as well to antidepressant treatment as people with normal folate levels." Folate supplements have shown inconsistent results in studies. Consuming foods with folate can help you to get the recommended daily value.

May Improve Diets in Those With AUD

Folate is a B vitamin that is essential for proper cell division and genetic functions. The NIH reports that people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) frequently have poor-quality diets that contain insufficient amounts of folate.

One study showed that when foods are not enriched with folic acid (a form of folate found in fortified foods), more than 60% of people with chronic alcoholism had low folate levels. Foods like enriched all-purpose flour provide folate in the form of folic acid.

Varieties

You might choose to use a different type of flour to bake with in order to improve the health benefits of your food. For example, bread made from whole wheat flour provides better nutrition than bread made from refined grains. But not all flour is interchangeable. It's important to know how you are going to use your flour before you make a swap.

All-Purpose, Enriched White Flour

This flour is made from a combination of hard and soft wheat and is the easiest to use because it is refined to have a softer texture than whole wheat flour. Self-rising flour is all-purpose flour that has had a leavening agent added.

Even though all-purpose flour is easy to use, it is a refined grain. Health experts recommend replacing refined grains with whole grains as often as possible to increase fiber intake.

Almond Flour

Almond flour is made from blanched whole almonds and is often used for low-carb and gluten-free cooking. This flour is a helpful substitute for people following those diets, but it is very high in fat.

Cake Flour

Cake flour has a very fine texture and is often used in baked goods like cookies and cakes. It is higher in starch and lower in protein than all-purpose flour.

You can make your own cake flour. For one cup of cake flour, measure out 1 cup all-purpose flour, remove 2 tablespoons, and replace with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.

Semolina

Semolina is made from durum or hard wheat that has a higher protein and gluten content than other varieties. Semolina is commonly used to make pasta and couscous. It is not a good flour for bread-making.

Whole Wheat Flour

This flour is made from the entire wheat kernel. It produces bread that is often heavier, but higher in fiber and nutrition than bread made from refined flour. While some people don't like the texture of baked goods made with this flour, it provides greater health benefits than the refined and softer varieties.

Storage and Food Safety

Flour usually lasts three to six months if properly stored. If you store flour in the freezer, it will last longer (up to a year). Many flour packages have a "best by" date that you can use as a guide. Keep in mind that it is best not to combine new flour with old flour.

Freeze refined flours to kill any weevil or insect eggs. Then transfer to a plastic or glass container with a tight sealing lid. Wheat flour has a shorter shelf life than other flours; store in the freezer for best results. Almond flour is best kept refrigerated or frozen.

How to Prepare

The best way to measure flour accurately is to weigh it. Using a measuring cup is often more convenient but may lead to slightly inaccurate amounts. If possible, use a digital scale to get a precise measurement.

Also, keep in mind that self-rising flour is different than all-purpose flour. Self-rising flour has leavening agents added. Leavening agents produce gas to make dough rise. If you substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour, don't add extra leavening agents, such as yeast, baking soda, or baking powder.

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12 Sources
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