Whole Grain Wheat Flour
What is Whole Grain Wheat Flour?
Whole-grain wheat flour is made from grinding the entire wheat kernel, without separating bran and germ.
Wheat is produced globally. There is wheat production in the majority of the continental U.S. The region dictates the variety of wheat grown, and varieties are distinguished by kernel hardness and color. Hard Red Winter is mainly produced in Middle America, and some parts of Midwest America; Hard Red Spring and Durum are grown in Midwest America; Soft White is produced in Northwest America.1 The wheat is harvested and delivered to flour mills, where stone or roller mills are typically used to grind it into flour.
Whole-grain wheat flour is composed of moisture (14%), protein (9–14%), fat (1–2%), carbohydrates (54–62%), fiber (1.7–2.6%) and ash (1.2–1.7%). Whole-grain wheat flour contains more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients than regular wheat flour, because these compounds are concentrated in the outer portions of the grain. In each 100 grams of whole-grain wheat flour, there are about 0.45 mg thiamine, 0.25 mg riboflavin, 6.0 mg nicotinic acid, 52 mg calcium, and 39 mg iron. As a comparison, an equal amount of white wheat flour provides about 0.05 mg thiamin, 0.04 mg riboflavin, 0.8 mg nicotinic acid, 16 mg calcium, and 1.0 mg iron.2
Whole-grain wheat flour provides gluten, which is the key protein in the development of the dough’s protein matrix that traps air and gas molecules. In cakes and other applications, wheat flour provides the starch that helps form the structure via starch gelatinization. During the processing of whole-grain wheat flour, the fiber and bran particles in the flour cut into the continuous gluten network, decreasing its gluten strength and gas-holding capacity and leading to a lower-volume loaf of bread.3
Usually stone mills and hammer mills are used. Whole-wheat flour is made from grinding the entire kernel, without separating the bran and germ. There is no need to temper the wheat before milling.
In breads, whole-grain wheat flour can be used alone or blended with enriched white flour, depending on the bread being developed. Traditional whole-grain wheat flour is not regularly used in cake products due to its coarse texture.
When whole-grain wheat flour is used to make bread, water absorption is higher than in dough made from white flour, due to the high hydration of the bran. To offset the detrimental effect of bran and high fiber, enzymes such as amylase and xylanase are added.4 Vital wheat gluten and other dough conditioners can also be used to assist in increasing loaf volumes.
The FDA stated in its “Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff – Whole Grain Label Statements” that “cereal grains that consist of the intact, ground, cracked or flaked caryopsis, whose principal anatomical components – the starchy endosperm, germ and bran – are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact caryopsis should be considered a whole-grain food.”5 In order for a product to be labeled as a whole-grain food, the FDA requires that it contain 51% or more whole grains by weight.
- Bakerpedia. “Types of Wheat | Resources.” bakerpedia.com/resources/types-of-wheat/. Accessed 5 Sept. 2017.
- “Absorption of Nutrients from Whole Wheat Flour and Bread.” Nutrition Reviews, vol. 1, no. 2, 1942, pp. 59–61, doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.1942.tb07958.x.
- Steinfurth, D., et al. “Comparison of Baking Tests Using Wholemeal and White Wheat Flour.” European Food Research and Technology, vol. 234, no. 5, 2012, pp. 845–851, doi:10.1007/s00217-012-1682-2.
- Bakerpedia. “Whole Wheat Bread | Baking Processes.” bakerpedia.com/processes/whole-wheat-bread/. Accessed 29 Aug 2017.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services. “Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff, Whole Grain Label Statements.” 2006.