Bleached vs Unbleached Flour

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.

Bleached Flour

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.

Unbleached Flour

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.

bleached vs unbleached


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  • Ruben

    Is USDA organic flour bleached?

  • David Kaufman

    “One of the possible minor side products of xantophyll oxidation is alloxan. It may therefore be found in small amounts in flour. There is no available research that shows trace amounts are a problem or that alloxan builds up in the body. The amounts, if present at all, must be small because xantophylls themselves only occur to the extent of 1 microgram per gram of flour.”
    One of your sources contained this paragraph. The source you used, used a source that essentially debufs your argument. Even if the bleaching agents do somehow react with the xantophylls, it is in a very tiny amount. As long as you aren’t eating three loafs of bread every hour every day of your life, the bleaching agent will not amount to any sort of diabetes.
    That being said, white flour naturally has no nutritional value and does pretty much turn to sugar in your body when you consume it. Always go with whole grain breads, those are the ones that still hold nutritional value and benefits.
    -Flour Milling Science Student at Kansas State

    • Hannah

      David, I agree that a tiny bit of alloxan will not hurt anybody right away, however, no studies have been done to see if it builds up in people over time. Type 2 diabetes is also known as adult onset diabetes. Maybe children are less likely to get it because they haven’t been exposed to alloxan for so many years. I don’t claim to know that bleached flour causes diabetes, but I think there needs to be more research before we can rule it out. What I do know is that bleached flour makes me terribly sick- headache, nausea, vomiting, and extreme exhaustion lasting for several hours. I wouldn’t touch bleached flour again if it was the last food on earth.

      • Алёна Суханова

        The symptoms you have are most probably psychosomatic (orthorexic much?). In any case, extrapolating your highly subjective experience is not a reasonable practice since literally not even 1% of human population cares about whether the flour they use is bleached. Organic labels do not even guarantee that the food produced in “organic” conditions is better/more nutritious/healthier than the rest of it; that’s where research is really needed.