The nutritional comparison of refined white flour and whole wheat flour is striking and is a convincing reason to switch to whole grains from refined. Many of the nutrients eliminated in the grinding process in refined grains, such as vitamin E, are crucial to good health. Refined wheat flour is so nutritionally insufficient farmers report that even bugs die when trying to sustain themselves on it in silos.
Most flours are derived from a whole cereal grain that has been milled into a fine meal and is then used for making baked goods of all kinds. Modern milling of whole cereal grains puts the kernel through a high-heat milling process that removes the germ and bran (which contain 90 percent of the nutritional content of the kernel), leaving only the endosperm (starch). The starch is then ground into different sizes for different purposes. The result is “refined” flour.
Replacing refined grains with whole grains does not mean having to eat food that is too heavy. Softer whole grains such as barley, oat, millet, teff, and brown rice grind into flours that are light in texture and color and have mellow, mild flavors. They can easily be substituted at any time for white flour. Even pastas can be made successfully with whole grain flours; one is not limited to chewy, dense whole wheat spaghetti if one wants to provide a while grain pasta dish. Brown rice noodles are light-flavored and slightly nutty tasting, for example; they are fine textured and look virtually identical to “normal” spaghetti.