Difference Between Whole Wheat Flour, Graham, and Durum
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Posted on 09 Aug 2015 23:40




Have You ever been confused by all the whole-grain hoopla? Lot's of people are.

The different terms are quite perplexing. One confusing area is the different words used for "flour" which all basically mean the same thing. One food may list "all-purpose flour". One may just list "flour".

And then, one of them throws you a curve ball: WHEAT flour. Maybe you bought a loaf of "wheat" bread that contains "wheat flour". Does that mean it's whole grain flour?

Well for a cereal grain to be considered whole-grain is must contain the endosperm, germ and bran and these must exist in the same relative portions. But how do you KNOW this is the case?

What is Wheat Flour?

Well, because the label must say so. You see, wheat flour is just synonym for flour. The white bleached all-purpose flour that your grocery store supplies in great abundance can rightly be called wheat flour and the word wheat should not be taken to mean anything more than the fact that the flour is made from wheat. But in this case the bran and germ have been removed.


field of common wheat

Common Wheat
image by David Monniaux via wikimedia

field of common wheat

Common Wheat
image by David Monniaux via wikimedia


Whole Wheat Flour

Flours made from whole grain wheat (or other grains) will say "whole wheat flour" or "whole grain wheat flour" or some other language that uses the word whole in a clear way to indicate that the grain was whole. If it doesn't say whole then do not assume it is whole-grain. And if the food itself claims to be a 'whole grain food' as in a bread that is "whole wheat" then the whole grain flour should be the FIRST ingredient listed on the ingredients list. A manufacturer may well use the term "wheat flour" to mean "whole wheat flour" but that is their mistake. Do not assume that any product is whole grain unless it is stated as such.

When labels say things like "100 percent wheat" it's easy to jump to the whole-grain conclusion. Read the ingredients list to be sure.

Graham Flour

Graham flour is a type of wheat flour and for the purposes of food labelling it can be considered whole wheat. The difference between graham flour and regular whole wheat flour is that the components of the wheat grain, the bran, germ, and endosperm are separated and ground separately.

graham crackers in a stack

Graham flour, and graham crackers, are named after Sylvestor Graham,
a reverend and dietary reformist who urged bland foods and avoidance of
"stimulating" things like meats, liquor, coffee, tea, spices, or just flavor in
general. His crackers were nothing like the ones we know today.

graham crackers in a stack

Graham flour, and graham crackers, are named after Sylvestor Graham, a reverend and dietary reformist who urged bland foods and avoidance of "stimulating" things like meats, liquor, coffee, tea, spices, or just flavor in general. His crackers were nothing like the ones we know today.

The endosperm is the part of the wheat grain that is used for white flour. In graham flour the endosperm is ground finely so that a white flour is produced while the bran and germ are ground coarsely. This creates a course flour but the presence of the fine white creates a different texture in baked goods.

However, all the parts of the grain being present in their original proportions means that graham flour is a whole wheat flour and the names are sometimes used interchangeably although regular whole wheat flour is not a direct substitute for genuine graham flour.

Durum Wheat

Durum wheat is a high protein (more gluten) breed of wheat. It is sometimes used to make pastas or seminola flour. Like any other wheat flour it is not whole grain. Only the "middlings" are used, i.e. the endosperm.

So, again, only assume it's whole grain if it says "whole durum wheat" or "whole grain durum" or something similar.

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