Flour: Whole Wheat or Bleached Enriched?

Before reading further, you need to go read “A Grain of Wheat.” It is the foundation for this post.

Whole wheat flour is ground wheat kernels. It is not sifted or bleached; whole wheat flour contains the bran, germ, and endosperm of the grain. Whole wheat flour does have a shelf life.  All of the extra nutrients that are gained by using freshly ground wheat rapidly disappear after the wheat is ground. The loss can be slowed by refrigerating or freezing the flour. Whole grains have been linked to a lower risk of  diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease.

White flour (the flour that takes up the majority of the store’s shelf) is made by sifting away the bran and the germ, which contain about 70% of the grain’s nutrients, leaving the starchy endosperm. This is then bleached to reach the goal: white flour.  Benzoyl Peroxide, Calcium Peroxide, Chlorine, Chlorine Dioxide, Azodicarbonamide, and Nitrogen dioxide are some of the bleaches used to obtain white, artificially aged flour.

White flour has been around for centuries. In 1941, the United States began making laws requiring that this sifted, bleached wheat be “enriched.” Bleached all-purpose flour does not contain near the amount of vitamins and minerals that whole grain flour does. Benjamin R. Jacobs, a chemist, realized that the processed flour was lacking in vital nutrients. The United States Army decided to use only enriched flour in 1942. To a nation that wanted to support the troops and the war effort, following the Army’s decision to use bleached, enriched flour was patriotic. And we became attached. It’s easy to work with.  It turns every dessert into a fluffy, light delicacy. Factories can roll out loaf after loaf of identical bread.

According to womenfitness.net,

The more refined foods a person eats, the more insulin must be produced to manage it. Insulin promotes the storage of fat, making way for rapid weight gain and elevated triglyceride levels, which can lead to heart disease. Over time, the pancreas gets so overworked that insulin production grinds to a halt, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or diabetes sets in. Either way, the body is getting little or no fuel from the food you eat and tries to convert muscle and fat into energy.

Besides, refined/bleached flour and wheat products, is the fuel of infection and high blood sugar levels created by the consumption of these products decrease immune reservoir and response.

The constant refined sugar/refined flour intake places a continual stress on the adrenals to pump out balancing hormones. This, of course, ultimately weakens the adrenals making it harder and harder for them to respond as the “emergency system” they were created to be. When real adrenal failure sets it, you really have a problem.

There are many, many reasons why whole wheat is better than white flour. For us, enriched bleached flour does not match up with our Definition of Whole Foods. Not at all. Enriched, bleached flour has had beneficial parts taken away, and harmful things added to it.
Do I always use whole wheat flour that I grind myself? No, not always. I will purchase unbleached white flour to add to breads, cakes, and cookies. Unbleached white flour is also a much better thickening agent than slightly gritty whole wheat. But unbleached flour has only been sifted; it has not been subjected to a bleaching process.
There are many, many websites where you can read more about wheat, whole wheat flour, and white flours. The History of Flour Milling in Early AmericaWhy You Should Avoid White Flour Products, WHFoods, or The Kitchen Project are a few great places to start. Let me know if you find any “must-read” articles!

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