Is flour bad for you?

What to choose the most useful and healthy flour? How to cook healthy pastry at home? You’ll find out everything you wanted to know about dangerous wheat flour and a lot of others here!

white wheat flour

Nutritionists all over the world subjected white wheat flour to severe criticism, calling it useless and even harmful, blaming it with all the deadly sins, including obesity and diabetes that willy-nilly, many of our compatriots began to forget about white bread, buns, cheesecakes and other small pleasures of life. The most radical ones completely abandoned the bread; the most ‘advanced’ ones began to look for ‘alternatives’ of refined white flour.

Generally, the flour is a food product obtained by grinding the grains of different cultures. Flour can be made from different varieties of grain crops such as wheat, spelled, rye, buckwheat, oats, barley, millet, corn, rice and Eleusine coracana. Now, however, people make the flour not only of cereals, but also, for example, peas or soya.

beautiful wheat flour

Why is the white flour considered to be worthless? To understand this we should go a little further into flour production technology. As it is known, the main differences appear as flour grinding grain size varieties and purity of the shells varieties too. Thus, the grain of wheat covered with brownish shell, giving at grinding the bran, is richer than whole grain with protein, vitamins, and especially cellulose.

Under cover there is aleurone layer of fine granules. Embryo grains are rich in the base oil, as well as protein and minerals. The rest - a thin layer of the endosperm cells filled with starch grains and particles of gluten, which gives dough viscosity. Sometimes it is peeled, consisting mainly of the outer parts of the grain, and flour, consisting of a core of milled grains. In the second case flour has got much more gluten. It is divided by grades: top grade, first grade, second grade. The lower grades contain vitamins B1, B2, PP and E, and higher grade flour and 1st grades have almost none.

But this only applies to high-grade flour, yes, beautiful, white, but, as it turns out, useless! But this does not mean we should completely abandon the wheat flour, it is because it can be very different.

Wheat flour

Wheat flour

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The basis of classification of wheat by type has following signs: the type (soft or hard), shape (spring and winter) and grain color (red or white). According to the standards of wheat, its harvest and distribution must be in accordance with its division into five types: I type - spring red grain, II - spring hard (durum), III - spring white grain, IV - winter red grain and V – winter white grain. There is also a division into sub-types, taking into account the color tone and vitreous. So the most important for the wheat milling industry ones are type I and IV, as the most common and having high technological properties. Wheat Type II is used for the production of pasta flour.

pasta flour

Some housewives prefer, semolina flour, considering it much more useful. I hasten to disappoint you - this cereal contains almost no bran, which is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber. But it is rich in gluten and has good baking properties. Semolina is produced from specific varieties of wheat and has a larger size of the individual particles. This flour should be used for dough with a high sugar and fat content for products such as cakes, pastries and others. For other dough it is of little use, since the finished products have poor porosity and stale quickly.

Real wheat flour

The first grade flour is the most common. The first grade flour has slightly more sugar (2%) and fat (1%) than the higher grade flour has. Its ash content is not more than 0.75%, the average fiber content - 0,27-0,3%. Color of first grade flour is from pure white to white with a yellowish or grayish shade. The flour of the first grade is good for baking not butter pastry (rolls, pies, pancakes, muffins, sautéing, national kinds of noodles, etc.) and baking a variety of breads. Finished products harden more slowly.

Wheat flour types

Second grade flour comprises 70-72% of starch, protein contained in the flour - 13-16%, wet gluten yield not less than 25%, the amount of sugar is 1.5-2.0% fat - about 2%, ash - 1 1-1.2%, fiber content - 0.7%. The color of flour is from light with a yellowish tinge to a dark - gray and brown. The last one has better baking quality - pastries from it turns lush, with a porous crumb. It is used mainly for baking varieties of white bread and flour products. It is often mixed with rye flour. This flour is used in the manufacture of certain confectionery products (cakes and cookies).

Wheat flour on the table

Wholemeal flour is obtained by grinding the wholemeal monosort with a yield of 96%. Flour is almost of the same type as the grain of wheat, but differs as it has less amniotic membrane and nucleus. Wholemeal flour is relatively large, non-having particle size (the largest of its size reaches 600, and the smallest of 30-40 microns). Its chemical composition is similar to the composition of the grain (at 0.07-0.1% ash content, and fiber content is to 0.15-0.2% less than in the grain). This flour has high moisture capacity and ability to create sugar, wet gluten yield is 20% or more. Wholemeal flour is used mainly for baking bread and it is rarely used in cooking.

And now let’s talk about the other flour types and their benefits.

Rye flour

Rye flour on the table

Rye flour has three varieties: seeded, peeled and wholemeal. It is used for baking rye bread. Due to the very low gluten content for improving the dough rise (using yeast, and not the leaven), people add different proportions of wheat flour thus obtaining rye-wheat bread.

Seeded rye flour has the highest grade of quality. It consists of a rye endosperm finely divided with a small impurity particles and aleurone layer shells (about 4% of the weight of the flour). The particle size of it starts from 20 and goes to 200 microns. Color: white flour with a bluish tinge. Flour is rich in starch (71-73%), sugars (4.7-5.0%), it contains significant amounts of water-soluble substances, and relatively little of the protein (8-10%) and cellulose (0.3-0.4%). The ash content of flour is 0.65-0.75%.

Rye flour

Peeled whole meal flour is different from wholemeal one because of its lower containing of shells and aleurone layer of grain (12-15% of the flour weight) and a higher degree of milling. The particle size: 30 to 400 microns. Color: white flour with gray or brownish tint. Peeled flour as wholemeal, is rich in water-soluble substances, but contains less protein (10-12%), more starch (66-68%). The content of fiber in the flour - 0.9-1.1%, and the ash content of flour - 1,2-1,4%.

Wholemeal flour is rye grain, milled after cleaning it from impurities and processing in wholemealing machine. Wholemeal flour consists of the same celld as the grains of rye (with slightly less amniotic membrane and nucleus), and contains endosperm of 20-25% crushed shells and aleurone layer. The particle size: 30 to 600 microns. Color: white flour with gray, yellowish or greenish tinge depending on the color of rye grain. Flour is rich in water-soluble substances, sugar, contains 12-14% of protein, 60-64% of starch, fiber - 2-2.5%, ash - 1.8-1.9%.

Oat flour

Oat flour

Oat flour differs from others, because of its low starch content and high fat content. The flour has all the essential amino acids, vitamins of group B, E, A, enzymes, choline, tyrosine, essential oil, copper, sugar, a set of trace elements, including silicon, mineral salts - phosphorus, calcium, dietary fibers (cellulose).

Oatmeal has long been used for the preparation of home-made cakes. People make excellent pancakes and oatmeal cookies with this wonderful flour.

bowl with oat flour

Oat flour cakes are more friable and may be substitute for wheat flour. But oat flour content should not exceed 1/3 of the total amount of flour because of its low content of gluten.

Barley flour

Barley flour

Barley flour according to the chemical composition and properties of baking it reminds rye flour, but has its own specific features. It has more fiber, and it contains astringent substances that give the bread tart flavor.

Barley flour is perfect for pancakes, biscuits, and as an additive in the preparation of bread. It is also perfectly suitable as a thickener for soups or sauces.

Barley flour has quite small gluten content, so such flour is not suitable for baking bread, so it is used as an additive. The aroma from barley flour is moderate and soft, with a slightly nutty flavor, as it gives baking softness. If you add barley flour to the bread, you get a slightly tart taste.

Flaxseed flour

Flaxseed flour

Flax flour in its composition and properties is more useful than the usual wheat flour and can be added as a useful component to a variety of recipes.

Flaxseed flour is recommended for baking products made with yeast and unleavened dough, replacing wheat flour by 10-20% linen (muffins, pancakes, muffins, pastries, etc.). Baking with the addition of flax flour creates a nice brown color; it has a unique taste and aroma.

Flaxseed flour and milk

Flaxseed flour is added to soups, stuffing, sauces, casseroles. It is useful as a breading for cutlets and chops, for making meatless dishes (flax flour, due to high content of mucus, can successfully replace the egg in the dough). Also flax flour is used in the form of 20-30% of the additive when cooking oats, semolina, barley, rye, pumpkin, rice and any other cereal.

Flaxseed flour has moisture absorption properties, which explains its ability to prolong the freshness of products (pastries with added flax flour does not get stale for a long time).

Buckwheat flour

Buckwheat flour

Buckwheat flour is highly nutritious, easily digestible, has good taste. Buckwheat distinctive feature is the high content of essential amino acids, and the protein content not inferior to wheat. For example, the content of buckwheat lysine exceeds millet, wheat, rye, valine content is approaching to milk, leucine – to beef, phenylalanine - to milk and beef.

At the core of buckwheat there are a lot of trace elements such as iron, phosphorus, copper. These trace elements are well absorbed by the human body, contribute to the restoration of hemoglobin in the blood and increase physical endurance. Also, the kernel is rich in vitamins B1, B2, PP, R. The content of the routine is very important for the prevention and treatment of sclerosis and hypertension.

Buckwheat flour in a bowl

The peculiarity of buckwheat is that it does not contain gluten, it is an excellent source of vegetable protein. Buckwheat is - grayish-brown in color, it has a slightly bitter taste. Buckwheat flour is used to make various confectionery products. People make some kinds of pasta, baked muffins and pancakes. Also, buckwheat flour has been applied in the distillery and brewing industry.

Rice flour

Rice flour

Rice flour does not contain gluten - a protein which is for many people a strong stimulus of the digestive system and the source of severe allergic reactions (celiac disease). Such patients can’t eat almost any grains, except rice, buckwheat and corn.

It contains many vitamins and minerals, and most importantly, starch. It is widely used as a thickening agent for sauces and soups.

Rice flour in a bowl

Bread and cakes baked from a mixture of rice flour with other ones (rice flour is usually take about one-third), become crispy. The basic rule: use a quarter of the normal amount of flour (or one-fifth, when baking bread), and add a little more water.

Rice flour works for pancakes, cookies, pies, so it is often used in children's food. Such flour is also suitable for breading fish. Rice flour cannot be used for yeast breads and cakes, because of the lack of gluten. Products made from rice flour are baked longer at a lower temperature than ones of wheat flour.

Corn flour

Corn flour

The corn flour contains sugar, vitamin B, PP vitamins, mineral salts of potassium, iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, carotene, starch. According to nutritional and beneficial properties of this flour, it is much better than wheat or any other. The most high-quality flour is obtained from durum corn; it can both have rough and fine grinding.

Corn flour used for making confectionery baking. Its presence allows you to get more air and friable products, which have a specific taste of maize. This flour is added in small amounts in some varieties of wheat and rye breads in order to give a special flavor to it.

Corn flour in a bowl

Corn flour tends to slow down the fermentation of carbohydrates, the food and porridge made with the addition of this flour stores for a long time. However, we cannot say the same about the flour itself: it is desirable to use it within a short period after grinding.

Soy flour

Soy flour

Soy flour is used in conventional foods. Soy protein has excellent culinary qualities: it is well structured, has a high swelling capacity, desiccant and fat binding ability, retains its shape when cooked.

Soy flour contains little-known substances - izolectains – they are isoflavones - substances similar in their effect to insulin-like growth factor. Izolectains have an anabolic effect, increasing the permeability of the cells for glucose and amino acids.

Soy flour in a bowl

Izolectains lose their properties after the heat of cooking, so those who use soy products for therapeutic or anabolic purpose, it should be remembered that as soy flour, soy protein cannot stand temperature extremes. You can, of course, prepare pancakes, noodles or just some pastries from soy protein. You get a good dietary product with a high protein content. But that's all. Nutritional value of soybean will stay, but its medicinal properties are lost.

Soy flour is used as an addition to the basic flour for baking cakes. Baking bread from soy flour is not possible, because it does not contain gluten and starch.

Pea or chickpeas flour

 chickpeas flour

Pea or chickpeas flour is much richer in vitamins (E, pantothenic acid, B), macro- and microelements (potassium, calcium, iron, zinc), amino acids (lysine, threonine) than wheat one. Therefore pastries from pea flour have a high biological value. Also, pea flour has excellent quality – it does not absorb vegetable oil during frying.

Adding pea flour (in an amount of 10-20%) in wheat flour, when baking bread, makes the manufacture of confectionery and pasta increase the nutritional value and taste of these products. Chickpea flour in pure form or mixtures are prepared with milk powder for baby food porridge. In Israel, people make a delicious dish falafel using pea flour.

Lentil flour

Lentil flour

Lentil flour is obtained by grinding the nibs of lentils. The beans and flour has almost no fat, the mass fraction of protein is more than 30%. Lentil flour is rich in vitamins, macro- and microelements.

Yet it's worth noting that the lentils are an environmentally friendly product! It has the ability not to accumulate any harmful or toxic elements (nitrates, radionuclides, etc.) in themselves. Therefore, lentils are grown in any part of the world and considered an environmentally friendly product. Lentil flour is used in the manufacture of biscuits. Lentil flour is also used in the culinary and confectionery industry in the production of coffee, cocoa, chocolates, cookies, chocolate and sausages.

types of flour

Now you know all the pros and cons of every flour. Choose the best one for you and stay healthy! 

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