Wholemeal or refined flour? How are they different?

There are many differences between wholemeal and white flour, but if both are wheat, why does consuming one or the other influence our weight?

Wholemeal or refined flour? How are they different?
What is the difference between whole wheat and white flour, if both come from wheat. Photo by Theme Photos / Unsplash

Whole grain or refined flour? Where do they differ? Firstly, we must differentiate between the processes of industrialization of each, since, on the one hand, to obtain wholemeal flour, the whole grain of the wheat is basically ground to form flour that retains all its properties, and by incorporating husks, its color is darker.

On the other hand, the white flour is obtained by separating the bran and the husk from the grain, going through a refining process where all the components of the wheat are separated, such as vitamin E, essential fatty acids, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, etc.

It is the most widely consumed flour among the majority of the world's population, but it lacks the important nutrients that it has been stripped of in its refining process. You are probably wondering why people consume more of the second type of flour and it is basically for these reasons:

The cost: by separating the elements of the wheat through refining, the industry can obtain more benefits by selling the oils, the bran, the germ, and the fiber separately.

In addition, the flour that is obtained is thinner and with a homogenous color, simultaneously that when not containing fats and being practically dry is simpler to store and has a lengthened caducity. However, many people find foods made from white flour very fattening, due to their high glycemic index.

Similarly, people who are very anxious to eat should also switch to a diet rich in wholemeal foods and flours, as these provide energy for longer and are not fattening, as eating foods made from wholemeal, such as wholemeal breads or biscuits, provides many nutrients not available from white flour. Foods made from wholemeal have a low glycaemic index and are absorbed by the body much more slowly, producing a greater feeling of satiety over a period of hours.

There are foods, such as bread, which, because they are made from white flour, need to be enriched with extra nutrients such as folic acid or iron. This is the case in Mexico, where the law establishes the addition of these nutrients to white flour.

Whether you prefer white for taste, or whole wheat for health, wheat is an important part of a balanced diet; and its consumption supports agricultural producers of the cereal, since according to the FAO, Mexico is one of the most important producers of the cereal, with production concentrated basically in the states of Sonora, Guanajuato, Baja California, Sinaloa, Michoac√°n, Tlaxcala, and Jalisco.