Whole wheat flour vs. refined flour (gehun ka atta vs. maida)

Whole wheat flour vs. refined flour (gehun ka atta vs. maida)

Did you know that refined flour is milled to strip the grain of its bran and germ making it deficient in nutrients?

Written by Tania Tarafdar |Published : February 13, 2015 6:17 PM IST

We can t totally do away with the puris, naans and parathas in our lunch and dinner. While we all love to prepare these delicacies with maida because of its pleasing soft and white texture but maida or refined flour may not be a great option when it comes to its nutritional content. Refined flour is milled to strip the grain of its bran and germ, making it deficient in nutrients. All the vitamins are lost and calcium is eliminated during its refinement process. Although whole wheat flour or atta needs a little extra kneading than maida, it can be beneficial for your health in many ways. Here is why wheat flour is a better choice than refined flour. Also, read brown bread vs. white bread-- which one is healthier.

Rich in vitamin

Whole wheat flour contains several vitamins including folate, riboflavin and vitamins B1, B3 and B5. However, the refining process in white flour destroys the grain s vitamin content. Vitamins B1 and B3 help convert the carbohydrates present in the food to energy. Vitamin B5 helps in the production of blood cells. Along with that, it also helps your digestive system to metabolise fats and proteins. Here are top 4 foods rich in vitamin B5. Some food manufacturers enrich white flour with vitamins to replace the nutrients lost during the processing. When you are purchasing white flour, make sure you check the label to determine if it has the added vitamins.

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High in fibre

Another nutritional advantage of whole wheat flour over white flour is its high fibre content. Fibre-rich foods can help you prevent constipation, lower blood cholesterol levels and also help you lose weight. The milling process in refined flour separates fibre-rich bran from the rest of the grain. Therefore, the fibre content in white flour is typically less than its whole-grain counterpart. While it is possible to add vitamins to refined flour, one thing that cannot be added is dietary fibre.

Low glycemic index

Glycemic Index or GI measures the effect of a specific food on your blood glucose levels after you eat it. A low glycemic food ideally has a GI of 50 or less. Whole wheat flour has a GI index of 49 and thus is not known to cause any spike in the blood sugar level. This is turn can lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Refined flour has a higher GI as compared to wheat flour, which quickly gets absorbed in the body, leading to an imbalance of insulin and sugar levels, ultimately causing diabetes. Consuming refined flour can also leave you feeling hungry and irritable, shortly after eating. Read how you can beat diabetes with a wheat flour diet.

Natural relaxant

The ample amount of amino acids and antioxidants in wheat flour help the body relax naturally. Common ailments like anxiety, insomnia, headache and depression can be battled with the grain. The amino acid called tryptophan is a major contributor to the relaxing effects of wheat flour.

Unsaturated fat

The fat present in whole wheat flour is in its unsaturated form and is thus, good for weight loss. Besides, the high fibre content in it also aid in weight loss by helping you beat hunger pangs. Therefore, substituting it for maida or refined flour is a good choice for people trying to lose weight. It also contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which reduces your appetite.


Delicacies such as cakes and cookies are mostly prepared using maida. However, making certain substitutions in your diet can help you reap the nutritional benefits of whole wheat flour, without sacrificing much on your favourite foods.

  • When you bake cookies, cakes and muffins at home, try using a mix of whole wheat and white flours.
  • When you buy pasta from a grocery store, skip the white pasta and instead go for noodles made of a mix of white and whole wheat flours. Opting for this will boost the nutritional content of your meal without sacrificing on its texture.

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