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What are the pros and cons of whole wheat versus white wheat flour?

Whole wheat flour contains all the edible parts of the wheat berry: the starchy endosperm, the nutritious germ (embryo), and the outer bran layer. To produce white flour, the miller removes most or all of the germ and bran. White wheat flour has three principal advantages over whole wheat flour.

First, it does not become rancid as quickly and easily and therefore has a longer shelf life. It is less vulnerable to rancidity because it does not contain the germ, the component of the wheat berry that contains the fat that causes rancidity. Second, white wheat flour leavens better because it contains more gluten per weight. Third, white wheat flour is more digestible. Finally, from the marketer's viewpoint, white wheat flour has greater popularity as most Americans have been conditioned since childhood to prefer baked goods made with white wheat flour.

Whole wheat flour has its advantages too. First and foremost, it is significantly more nutritious because nearly all the vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, and fiber of the wheat berry reside in the germ and bran. One must not be fooled into thinking that enriched white bread is the nutritional equal of whole wheat bread, because far more nutrients are removed during the milling of white flour than are replaced in the enrichment process. One should also not be hoodwinked by the term "wheat bread" on the label. For flour made from the whole berry, look for the term "whole" or "100 percent whole" before the phrase "wheat bread". If the list of ingredients says "whole wheat flour and wheat flour", the bakery used a blend of whole and white wheat flours.

To discerning palates, whole wheat bread is also superior to white wheat bread because it has a more interesting flavor and texture.

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