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.


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