Grinding whole grains into flour: what gets lost?

Susan writes:

“I’m trying to get to the truth about grains.  After losing more than 30 pounds by cutting out pretty much all starches (i.e., bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, etc.), I thought I’d add back a modest amount of whole grains, including whole grain breads.  We even bought a grinder, grain, and a bread maker.  Now I’m reading that whole grains are only healthful if they aren’t milled – i.e., not turned into flour.  Is that true?  Will I ever eat bread again??”

Thirty pounds? Good for you!! Who are these kill-joys trying to take that hard-won slice of home-baked whole grain bread out of your hand?

(Actually, in today’s anti-grain climate, I’m surprised that even unmilled grains made the cut!)

Milling a whole grain does degrade the nutrients somewhat. (Although grinding it at home just before you bake it certainly minimizes those nutrient losses!) And grinding a whole grain into flour also makes it a bit easier to digest, meaning that it has a higher glycemic impact. However, whole grain flour still has more nutrition and less of a glycemic impact than refined flour.

Although it might be possible to arrange grain-based foods on a spectrum from less to more nutritious, I think it’s absurd to say that intact whole grains are healthful and whole grain flour is not.

Of course you can enjoy some homemade whole grain bread! Perhaps you will sometimes enjoy whole grains in their intact forms. You might even occasionally choose a treat made with…gasp…white flour!

As long as you’re not eating grain-based foods in excessive amounts, I think you can afford to play the field a bit.

4 thoughts on “Grinding whole grains into flour: what gets lost?

  1. What about the fiber? I’ve been wondering for some time how much fiber is getting lost when you grind whole grains. I don’t bake with whole grain flours much, but I grind whole oats, daily.

  2. What is the best grains to make sourdough bread? I love bread and I try to stay away from it as much as I can. I actually make it for a lot of people and they love it but my wife won’t let me eat it and she’s smart not too but what can I use?

  3. Losing weight on ANY exclusionary diet is possible, even likely. The question is whether or not it’s healthful and sustainable. Grains and starches are important for health and excluding them for weight loss is a fool’s gambit if that is the whole plan. I lost 50 pounds after becoming vegan, but I didn’t become vegan to lose weight. I adjusted how much I was eating and cut out junk food and almost all refined sugar. The difference in excluding animal products is, if you eat a good plant-based diet, you are much healthier for it, not so with excluding whole grains and root vegetables, etc.

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