Friday, September 27, 2013
Article # 548. Healthy Facts about Whole-Wheat Flour vs. White Flour
There are lot many misconceptions running between people about the difference between White flour and Whole wheat flour. White flour is made from heavily refined and processed wheat grains, while whole-wheat flour is made from grains that have not undergone heavy processing. Whole-wheat and white flours differ in their nutritional value.
One of the primary nutritional differences between whole-wheat and white flour is the food’s fiber content. Dietary fiber has a number of health benefits -- it prevents constipation, lowers blood cholesterol and might help you lose weight, according to Colorado State University. The refining process associated with making white flour separates the fiber-rich brain from the rest of the grain, so white flour typically contains less fiber than its whole-grain counterpart. For example, 1/2 cup of white flour contains 1.3 grams of fiber, while an equal serving of whole-wheat flour contains 6.4 grams. As a result, selecting foods that contain wheat flour helps you reach your dietary fiber intake goal -- 28 grams daily if you follow a 2,000-calorie diet, according to Colorado State University.
Effect on Blood Sugar
Any carbohydrate-containing food -- including those containing either whole-wheat or white flour -- has some effect on your blood sugar. After you eat a meal, your body breaks the carbohydrates from your food into glucose, a simple sugar. This glucose then enters your bloodstream, so it can circulate throughout your body and provide fuel to your cells. The glycemic index, or GI, of a food serves as a measure of how quickly this process occurs. High-GI foods lead to rapid blood sugar spikes and subsequent crashes that leave you hungry and irritable shortly after eating. Low-GI foods absorb more slowly to prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes, so you’re satisfied for longer after your meal. Bread made with 100 percent whole-wheat flour has a GI of 51, according to Harvard Medical School, while bread made with white wheat flour has a GI of 71. If you seek to regulate your blood sugar after a meal, choose foods made with whole-wheat flour.
Whole-wheat flour provides a nutritional advantage over some white flours due to its vitamin content. Whole-wheat flour contains several vitamins, including folate, riboflavin and vitamins B-1, B-3 and B-5. Some types of white flour contain lower levels of these vitamins, since the processing involved in making white flour destroys the grains’ vitamin content -- for example, 1/2 cup of whole-wheat flour contains 3 milligrams of niacin, while an equivalent portion of white flour contains only 0.8 milligrams. To combat this, some food manufacturers enrich their white flour with vitamins to replace the nutrients lost during processing. As a result, whole-grain flour often contains higher levels of vitamins than unenriched white flour but roughly compares to vitamin-enriched white flour. Check the nutrition label to determine if a bag of white flour has added vitamins, and compare different brands of flour to maximize your vitamin intake.
Eat More Whole-Wheat Flour
Making a few easy substitutions in your diet helps you reap the nutritional benefit of whole-wheat flour without sacrificing the foods you love. When you bake at home, try using a mix of whole-wheat and white flours for cookies, muffins and cakes, and opt for 100-percent whole-wheat flour to make homemade bread. At the grocery store, check your bread labels to select loaves made with 100 percent whole wheat -- this bread is made using whole-wheat flour, whereas those labeled simply "whole-wheat" might contain a mix of whole wheat and white flours. In the pasta isle, skip the white pasta and opt for noodles made from a mix of white and whole-wheat flour. Pasta made with 100-percent whole wheat feels gummy after cooking thanks to the pasta's fiber content, so choosing pasta made using some whole-wheat flour boosts the nutritional content of your meal without sacrificing texture.