What Is Flour and How to Choose a Useful Type?
There are different products in your kitchen, Let’s have a closer look at flour. It looks simple, but did you know that there are six different types of wheat flour? Moreover, snow-white wheat flour is absolutely useless. Nutritionists and health specialists recommend those who care about their health to use some other types of flour, for example, medicinal flour from the seeds of amaranth and milk thistle.
What Is flour?
It is produced by grinding the seeds to a powder. Usually, cereals for bread making or leguminous crops (less often) are used as well as herbs for medical purposes.
All-purpose wheat flour is the most popular choice because it has pleasant taste and wheat grows all over the world. However, even in Vietnam and Thailand, where it is not usually found, flour-based foods are very popularly.
There are those who prefer flour made from rye, millet, rice, corn, peas, and soy. Barley flour used to be very popular because of its low prices. Also, it is great for making pancakes. Such flour contains beta glucans, thanks to which it protects the heart and blood vessels and reduces cholesterol levels. Buckwheat flour is considered dietary. It is not the best choice for baking, but it can be combined with other types of flours.
Types of Flour
For many centuries, people tried to make snow-white flour without bran and germs. When they finally succeeded, it turned out that such powder does not have any useful properties since there are nearly no vitamins, proteins, minerals, and fiber but a lot of starch, which leads to gaining extra weight. In some countries, it is forbidden to produce snow-white flour.
Types of flour mainly depend on how it is produced, and there are six of them:
- Wholemeal flour. It does not go through any peeling and the grains are ground entirely. It is not suitable for baking, but it is used to make bread with a rough, crispy crust.
- Gritty flour. It has a fairly large fraction and cream color. Gritty flour contains lots of gluten and it is suitable for making the yeasted dough.
- Second-class Flour. This grayish brown flour is used for making white bread and lean dough.
- First-class flour. There is almost no bran but lots of gluten. This soft and yellowish flour makes the dough elastic and fluffy. It is great for ravioli, pancakes, homemade noodles, and pies.
- Highest-class flour. Such flour does not have any bran, but only the inner part, which increases the starch content. While cakes, pies, puff pastries and shortcrust pastry turn out to be snow-white, fine-pored, fluffy, it is not really useful.
- Extra flour has a minimum content of mineral components and ash. As the highest-class flour, it is not really useful.
Rye flour can be light (yield after grinding is up to 65%), medium (yield is up to 90%), dark (the coarse grinding). For most of the less common types of flour, grinding can be light, medium or fine.
The Composition and Benefits of Flour
Any flour contains nutrients, which concentration depends on the type of grain and grinding:
- Fibre. Wholemeal flour contains about 2.3% of fiber, and it is about 0.1% in the highest-class flour. This component is useful as it boosts intestinal peristalsis. The World Health Organization recommends consuming at least 27 grams of fiber per day.
- Proteins (mainly, simple proteins). In soy flour, there is 44% of proteins and in wheat flour, it is nearly four times less. Proteins of rye flour contain more essential proteins than in wheat flour.
- Fats (up to 9%). In corn flour, there is 1.5% of fat, and in rye and wheat flour, it is 1-2%. 40% of fat consists of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that are not produced by the body; therefore, they are especially important. They improve overall health condition, as well as the conditions of skin, hair, and nails.
- Carbohydrates, including up to 90% starch, which ensures the elasticity of the breadcrumbs. During storage, the paste gets "old" and the bread product eventually stales.
- Vitamins A, E, PP, group B (thiamine, riboflavin).
- Minerals, including phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are presented in large amounts. There is not so much copper, zinc, manganese, and other elements. By the way, we get about 10% of the daily calcium intake from bread and flour-based products. The 32% of iron essential for the body contains in 100 grams of flour.
- Enzymes. They are found in bran or germ. This is another reason why refined flour is less useful.
Flour is not suitable for people with gluten intolerance or allergies to it. It is generally harmless for healthy people but may lead to gaining extra weight.
Flour from the seeds of herbs, especially milk thistle and amaranth, does not contain gluten. Not only does it improve health conditions, but also treats a number of diseases.
- Milk thistle flour (meal) is a natural hepaprotector. It contains a unique substance known as silymarin, as well as vitamins, fatty acids, and phospholipids. It protects, purifies and restores liver cells, boosts intestinal peristalsis, improves the health condition in case of gallbladder disease, gastritis, colitis, and allergies. Milk thistle powder prevents the accumulation of toxins, removes poisons of alcohol, heavy metals in case of food poisoning. Taking into account ecological problems, especially in large cities, this product should be included in the diet, and the condition of your liver will be improved.
- Amaranth flour contains lots of amino acids, including lysine. This element is rarely found even in herbs. It contains calcium and helps to absorb it. There are more iron and fiber in it than in wheat flour. Amaranth flour has powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer properties, and it is recommended for anemia, gastrointestinal disorders, and improving sugar levels.
Both types of medicinal flour help in losing weight thanks to the purification of body, normalizing metabolism and reducing calorie intake. It can be used for cooking or adding to traditional wheat, rye, flaxseed and other types of flour. It is also suitable for preparing sauces and coating.
A Few Tips
- Do not use only wheat flour. Include also other types of flour in your diet to obtain additional benefits.
- Remember, the higher the class of the four, the more beautiful the pastries will be, but they will also be less useful. Coarse grinding is better.
- In stores, you can find the “pancake flour.” You should check out its ingredients carefully. Often it is a semi-finished product with the addition of baking powder, preservatives, and chemical food additives. Consuming it is not recommended.
- When choosing a rare type of flour, carefully read the instructions.
- It is better to store flour in a paper bag or glass, wooden utensil, but not in cellophane. It is important to store it away from moisture and foreign smell to prevent mold and bugs. Even the highest quality flour is not recommended to store at home for over a year.