If you thought all flour was the same, think again. Many people know that white flour isn’t good for our health. However, bleached flour is even worse. At some point in history, milled flour was always unbleached. This old school flour comes out in a pale yellow color and it is aged for about 12 weeks. This aging process allows for the proteins and gluten develop, which makes it better for baking. Also, during this process, the flour bleaches and becomes whiter. Naturally.
However, we are impatient people, we want everything right now. So in the 1900’s along came some scientist, that invented a process which allowed to bleach the flour within 48 hours, instead of several months. And thus, (the chemical process for) bleached flour was invented.
When bleached flour was introduced, it was widely opposed. Dr. Wiley was one of the people that opposed it. He believed that foods can cause more harm than some drugs. He even took the matter to the supreme court, although they ruled in his favor (disallowing bleaching or altering of flour), it was never enforced. FDA was formed and the focus shifted to drugs. Bleached flour lived on.
The problem with bleached flour is that during the bleaching process, a byproduct called alloxan is produced. Alloxan is used to produce diabetes in lab animals (rat and mice) so they can study diabetes treatments. FDA still allows chemical processes to be used without food that produces alloxan. Also, as with any refined foods, A LOT of nutrients are lost in the process. There are too many lost nutrients to list, but here’s a small portion:
- Half of the beneficial unsaturated fatty acids
- Virtually all of the vitamin E
- Fifty percent of the calcium
- Seventy percent of the phosphorus
- Eighty percent of the iron
- Ninety eight percent of the magnesium
- Fifty to 80 percent of the B vitamins
Some of the bleaching agents used in the bleaching process include Chlorine Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Chlorine, Calcium Peroxide, Azodicarbonamide, and Benzoyl Peroxide. The nutrients and vitamins that are lost during this bleaching process are then often added and made into what’s called “enriched” flour. However, most of the nutrients are still missing, and very little amounts are actually replaced. These nutrients are often added along with toxic additives. Metallic iron fillings have been found in “enriched” and “fortified” products.
When you look at the label of your flour and it is not labeled as bleached or unbleached, it is bleached. However, due to people starting to pay attention and educating themselves, the demand for good old unbleached flour has increased. If a product is labeled as “unbleached” it has not been chemically bleached. Unbleached flour is making a comeback. Unbleached flour contains more nutrients and is better for your health. However, try to limit your intake of white flour. Wheat contains gluten and can often contain pesticides, etc. USDA found 16 different pesticide residues on wheat.
Buy organic, unbleached, unenriched flour.