Flour is a basic component found in most of the kitchens, just scan any supermarket and you find varieties of flour. Why are there so many varieties of flour? What is the difference between whole wheat flour and white flour? What are the benefits of consuming whole wheat flour?
Anatomy of a Wheat Grain
To know the difference between whole wheat flour and white flour let’s understand the anatomy of wheat grain
Also known as the wheat kernel or wheat berry, the kernel is the seed from which the wheat grows. Each tiny grain is typically divided into 3 small parts, each having its own importance.
- Bran – Bran makes nearly 14.5% of the total grain weight; bran contains a tiny amount of proteins, 3 major types of B-vitamins, trace minerals and dietary fibres.
- Endosperm – The largest part of the wheat kernel, it constitutes about 83% of grain weight. The end sperm contains the highest amount of proteins, carbohydrates, iron & major B-vitamins.
- Germ – Germ forms about 2.5% of kernel weight and from which the actual growth of plant happens and hence the most nutrient part of the grain. It contains high-quality proteins, complex b-vitamins and trace minerals.
The thing with white flour is that it is only made up of bran and endosperm, eliminating the most nutrient part – the germ. The germ gets separated while processing and is done to increase the shelf life.
The flour loses all its natural nutrients and is later enriched with added nutrients after processing. But the nutrients are not as good as the naturally available ones.
Whole Wheat Flour vs. White Flour Nutrition
- The difference in their Fiber Content
This is the key difference between whole wheat flour and white flour. Dietary fibre is an essential component of our daily dietary plan and has number of health benefits. It prevents constipation, lowers blood cholesterol and might also aid you in weight loss.
The refining and processing process associated with white flour separates the fibre rich bran from the grain, leaving you with lesser fibre content than the whole wheat flour.
- Vitamin content
Whole wheat flour has vitamin advantage over refined wheat flour. Whole wheat flour contains B-1, B-3 & B-5. The processing separates the germ from the kernel, making it less nutritious than the whole wheat flour. The germ is the most nutritious part of the wheat kernel but decreases the shelf life of the flour and hence manufacturers separate it to increase its life cycle.
- Carbohydrate content
Any carbohydrate containing food whether its whole wheat flour or white flour has some effect on blood sugar level. When you consume food, carbohydrates break down into a simple sugar called glucose. Glucose then enters into your bloodstream to energize your body cells.
The glycemic index or GI is the measure of how quickly the glucose circulates through our body. Food with higher GI gets consumed quickly increasing the blood sugar level and you feel hungry after a short span of time. Food items with lower GI take time to absorb and prevent blood sugar spikes.
Whole wheat floors have a GI of nearly 51 and white flour has GI of around 70 hence it is advisable for people who are trying to control their blood sugar level to consume foods made from whole wheat grain.
Can You Substitute refined Flour with Whole Wheat Flour?
The reason why people prefer white flour is that it’s downright delicious. But that doesn’t mean that you need to sacrifice your health in order to taste delicious food. You can completely replace white flour with whole wheat flour or just use the combination of two. This way your dishes get both tasty and nutritious. Whole wheat flour is equally if not tastier than the refined flour and does not take away the taste from baked goods and is more nutritious.
Health Benefits of Whole Wheat Flour
Here are some of the legitimate reasons why you should incorporate whole grain flour in your diet and reap its health benefits:
- They lower the risk of heart diseases – Eating whole wheat reduces the carbs intake and hence reduces the risk of heart diseases. Heart problem is the leading cause of death inside.
- Reduce your risk of obesity – Whole wheat flour is rich in dietary fibres and consuming it will fill you up easily preventing you from overeating. Eating whole grains is linked to a lower risk of obesity.
- Reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes – Since whole wheat flour aides in weight loss and obesity control, it significantly reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Fibre and magnesium are two main ingredients controlling the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- They promote digestive health – Some fibres present in whole grains act as prebiotics. Meaning they feed good bacteria in the gut and promotes digestive health.
How to Incorporate Whole Wheat Flour in Your Diet?
There are many ways to incorporate whole wheat grains in your diet. First try mixing of two flours to bake your regular products and use whole wheat grains to bake home bread or chapatis.
At the grocery store, check out the ingredients before you purchase any wheat product. Skip the aisle with white flour products and opt for whole grain food items.
Take Away Lesson
There is a primary nutrition difference between whole wheat flour and refined flour and the difference is enough to point out the best choice between the two. It is best to choose whole wheat food items given its numerous health benefits. If not possible at least use the combination of both the flours.