What is Whole Wheat Flour? The Ultimate Guide to This Healthy Ingredient

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Whole-wheat flour (in the US) or wholemeal flour (in the UK) is a powdery substance, a basic food ingredient, derived by grinding or mashing the whole grain of wheat, also known as the wheatberry.

Whole-wheat flour is used in baking of breads and other baked goods, and also typically mixed with other lighter “white” unbleached or bleached flours (that have been treated with flour bleaching agents to restore nutrients to the white flours (especially fiber, protein, and vitamins), texture, and body that are lost in milling and other processing to the finished baked goods or other food(s).

What is whole wheat flour

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Whole Wheat Flour: More Than Just a Grain Ground to Powder

Whole wheat flour can be made from different varieties of wheat, including hard and soft wheat. Hard wheat is commonly used for bread flour, while soft wheat is used for pastry flour. Whole wheat flour can also be made from different types of wheat, such as spring or winter wheat.

The process of making whole wheat flour involves mashing the wheat grains to create a powdery substance. The unprocessed flour is then mixed and ground to produce a wholemeal flour that retains all the valuable nutrients and fiber.

What Whole Wheat Flour Contains

Whole wheat flour contains the bran, germ, and endosperm of the wheat grain, which enhances its nutritional value. It is a rich source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including:

  • Fiber: Whole wheat flour contains more fiber than refined flours, which helps to regulate digestion and promote a feeling of fullness.
  • Nutrients: Whole wheat flour is a good source of B vitamins, iron, and zinc.
  • Germ: The germ is the part of the wheat kernel that contains healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Bran: The bran is the outer layer of the wheat kernel that is rich in fiber and nutrients.

How Whole Wheat Flour Differs from Refined Flours

Whole wheat flour differs from refined flours in several ways:

  • Retains nutrients: Whole wheat flour retains all the valuable nutrients and fiber that are naturally present in the wheat grain.
  • Hulled grain: Whole wheat flour is made from hulled grains, which means that the bran and germ are not removed during processing.
  • Valuable nutrients: The bran and germ of the wheat kernel contain valuable nutrients that are lost during the refining process.
  • Shelf life: Whole wheat flour has a shorter shelf life than refined flours because it contains natural oils that can go rancid over time.

Common Uses of Whole Wheat Flour

Whole wheat flour is commonly used in baked goods, such as bread, muffins, and cookies. It can also be used as a thickener for soups and sauces.

Texture, Taste, and Color

Whole wheat flour has a milder taste than refined flours and a slightly darker color due to the presence of the bran and germ. It also has a coarser texture than refined flours, which can affect the texture of baked goods.

Measuring Whole Wheat Flour

When measuring whole wheat flour, it is important to weigh it rather than using a measuring cup. This is because whole wheat flour is denser than refined flours and can vary in weight depending on how it is milled. One cup of whole wheat flour weighs approximately 4.5 ounces.

Whole Wheat Flour Around the World

Whole wheat flour is commonly used in the United States, but it is also popular in other parts of the world, including the United Kingdom and India. In India, whole wheat flour is known as atta and is used to make traditional flatbreads such as roti and chapati. In the United Kingdom, whole wheat flour is known as wholemeal flour.

Get Creative with Whole Wheat Flour

If you’re looking to add a healthy twist to your baked goods, try replacing all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Use the same amount of whole wheat flour as all-purpose flour, but add an extra 1-2 tablespoons of liquid per cup of flour to account for the bran in the whole wheat flour.
  • Whole wheat flour absorbs more moisture than all-purpose flour, so your batter or dough may be thicker than usual.
  • Whole wheat flour can add a nutty flavor and a darker color to your baked goods.

Adding Whole Wheat Flour to Your Batter or Dough

If you want to add some whole wheat goodness to your batter or dough without replacing all-purpose flour entirely, here are some ideas:

  • Replace half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour to add some fiber and nutrients.
  • Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of regular whole wheat flour for a lighter texture.
  • Add a tablespoon or two of whole wheat flour to your batter or dough for a subtle nutty flavor.

Using Whole Wheat Flour in Other Recipes

Whole wheat flour isn’t just for baked goods! Here are some other ways to use it:

  • Add a tablespoon or two of whole wheat flour to your smoothie or juice for some extra fiber and nutrients.
  • Use whole wheat flour as a thickener for soups or sauces.
  • Use whole wheat flour as a coating for chicken or fish for a crispy, nutty flavor.

Why Whole Wheat Flour is a Healthy Choice

Whole wheat flour is composed of the entire wheat grain, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. This means that it contains all the natural nutrients and fiber that the grain provides. Some of the nutrients found in whole wheat flour include:

  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • B vitamins
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus

The high fiber content in whole wheat flour helps to support gut health and can help to keep you feeling full for longer periods of time. This makes it a good choice for those looking to maintain a healthy weight.

The Difference Between Whole Wheat Flour and Refined Flour

Refined flour is made by removing the bran and germ from the wheat grain, leaving only the endosperm. This process removes many of the nutrients and fiber that whole wheat flour contains. Refined flour is often used in baking because it has a finer texture and lighter color than whole wheat flour. However, the refining process also removes the natural bond between the shells and husks, which can lead to a less nutritious flour.

Choosing the Right Whole Wheat Flour

When choosing whole wheat flour, it matters where you buy it from and what type you choose. Some tips for choosing the right whole wheat flour include:

  • Look for organic whole wheat flour to ensure that it is free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals
  • Buy from a local store to support your community and reduce the environmental impact of transportation
  • Choose whole wheat flour that is enriched with nutrients such as iron and folic acid for an extra health boost

How to Use Whole Wheat Flour in Baking

When using whole wheat flour in baking, it is important to keep in mind that it has a different taste and texture than refined flour. Some tips for using whole wheat flour in baking include:

  • Use it in small batches at first to get used to the taste and texture
  • Mix it with refined flour to create a lighter texture
  • Use it as a thickening agent in soups and stews
  • Experiment with different recipes to find the ones that work best with whole wheat flour

In conclusion, whole wheat flour is a beneficial and natural alternative to refined flour. It provides a range of nutrients and fiber that can support gut health and help to maintain a healthy weight. By choosing the right type of whole wheat flour and using it correctly in baking, you can enjoy the taste and health benefits of this nutritious food.


So, that’s what whole wheat flour is. It’s not just wheat, it’s a whole grain flour made from the whole wheat kernel. You can use it in baking and cooking to get extra fiber and nutrients. So, now you know! You can make the right choice and enjoy the benefits of whole wheat flour. You can even use it as a healthy substitute for flour! So, go ahead and give it a try!

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.