Sunday, 31 May 2009

Whole Wheat flour

Whole wheat flour is a powdery substance derived by grinding or mashing the wheat’s whole grain. The word "whole" refers to the fact that all of the grain (bran, germ and endosperm) is used and nothing is lost in the process of making the flour.

The most common type of whole wheat flour in United States is textured brown since it is made from red wheat variety.
In United Kingdom, white whole wheat flour is common which is made from soft white wheat variety.
White whole wheat has almost the same nutrient content as red whole wheat. However, soft white whole wheat has lower gluten content and contains a lower protein content (between 9% and 11%) when compared with harder wheat varieties like red (15%-16% protein content) or golden wheat. Due to higher protein content, red wheat flour needs more water than white wheat flour to prepare dough.
Soft white wheat is lacking in tannins and phenolic acid causing white whole wheat to appear and taste more like refined red wheat; it is whitish in color and does not taste bitter.

In terms of the parts of the grain used in flour, there are three general types of flour:
  • Whole wheat flour is made from the whole cereal grains which contain bran, germ and endosperm.
  • Refined white flour is made from the refined cereal grains, which contain only endosperm.
  • Germ flour is made from the endosperm and germ, excluding the bran.

Benefits of whole wheat flour:
Whole wheat flour is more nutritious than refined white flour. It contains the macronutrients of the wheat's bran and germ (especially fiber and protein).
Whole wheat is a good source of calcium, iron, fiber, and other minerals like selenium.

Drawbacks of whole wheat flour:
Whole wheat flour has a shorter shelf life than white flour, as the higher oil content leads to rancidification. It is also more expensive.
Whole wheat flour adds a certain "heaviness" in baking items like bread etc. which prevents them from rising, as good as white flours, requiring more flour to obtain the same volume. It also needs more water to prepare dough due to bran, germ and higher gluten content.

Important to note:
It is important to note that any products made with flour can have the same effect on blood sugar, whether the flour is produced from whole grains or not. For example, whole-grain wheat bread and white bread can have the same glycemic index. Grinding grains into flour increases the surface area upon which enzymes work more quickly to convert starch into glucose.

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