The term flour usually refers to a powder prepared by grinding soft wheat.
Durum wheat flour, by contrast, is obtained from durum wheat and is used to make pasta.
Whole wheat and durum wheat flours contain all the elements of the grain of wheat, unlike the other types of wheat that are extra fine and have only the inside part (endosperm), which is the less nutritious element.
Indeed, the kernel is made up of the endosperm, the germ and the bran.
The endosperm: it is a source of starch and gluten, key elements of flour strength. Strong flours are rich with gluten and you can obtain very elastic dough.
The germ: it is the embryo of the seed, which is a source of goodness and excellence. Its oily consistency is due to the fact that it contains fat, which is essential fatty acid; for this reason, whole wheat flour has a shorter shelf life than white flour – the presence of a higher oil content leads to rancidification if not stored properly, such as in refrigeration, or in other cool areas -. It contains many B vitamins, some protein, minerals, and healthy fats.
The Bran: it is the multi-layered outer skin of the edible kernel. It contains important antioxidants, B vitamins and fiber.
If we keep together all the parts of the kernel – as it happens with durum wheat flour -, they interact with each other and give birth to a new synergy that, as soon as we eat whole grain food, give out in a beneficial and protective effect against illnesses. For this reason, whole grain foodstuffs are complete from a nutritional point of view.
By contrast, white flour has not only lost the supply of nutrients contained in the germ and in the bran, but also the beneficial effects due to the synergy and interaction with all the parts of the kernel.
Therefore, foodstuffs made with fine flour – the so called “00 extra fine flour” – are low in nutrients. Their effects are those of releasing sugar quickly in our organism: these food items have a high blood sugar level and increase rates of cardiovascular diseases and of other illnesses related to high blood sugar levels.
Which types of flour do we consume? And how are they made?
A long time ago there were millstones that, although they are being placed more and more, they are still very few.
Millstones are stones used in grist mills, for grinding wheat or other grains. They come in pairs. The base is stationary and above the bedstone is the turning runner stone which actually does the grinding.
Millstones can only produce whole-wheat flours that have a shorter shelf life than white flour as the high content of essential substances leads to rancidification.
Millstones run very slowly and this represents a further advantage for our health since flours are not overheated and keep intact their nutritional properties.
Today, whole wheat and durum wheat flours that we usually consume are produced in modern industrial mills that use cylinders. These types of mills have reached such refining levels that manage to obtain high productive yields.
Indeed, the milling technology is specialized in the development of such very advanced solutions to refine, micronize and separate the parts of the kernel that flours have a longer shelf life and are produced a long time before being consumed to advantage commercial exchanges.
In other words, we have developed a technology that is harmful to our health.