Healthy flour is only to be had really if you have your own grinder; they're expensive but, after 25 years our Hawo has paid for itself many times over; it's used every day.
Does flour go bad? Yes, it certainly does. Rancid might be a better word, because of the labile oils in whole wheat. There's only one way to enjoy the real stuff that I know of and that's to grind your own.
When you're cooking with it, grind your wheat berries, freezing what's left but not becoming neurotic about it.
True whole wheat must contain the entire seed in the same proportions that nature gives it to us; all of the endosperm from which white flour is made, one hundred percent of the bran which is the fibrous part containing the vital lignans, and the germ where most of the minerals, vitamins and oils are found.
There's only one other option that I can think of and it's too much schlep for me and probably you also. Go to a mill and purchase a sack of freshly ground 100 percent wheat and take it home; divide it up into smaller bags and freeze it.
It's impractical and for my money it is better to buy yourself a good wheat grinder.
Why do I say good? Because the cheaper varieties won't grind it as fine as you probably would want your healthy flour.
They start at about 200 dollars and I was shocked to discover that our 25 year old Hawo now costs 700. It's all about your philosophy of life; are you going to put your money where your mouth is, and enjoy healthy choice foods, or are you going to spend it on going to doctors?
Healthy flour doesn't come cheap after paying for the mill but the alternative is that every month you'll be forking out for vitamin E and omega 3 softgels, not to mention all the other goodies in your own home ground wheat; the calcium and iron for example.
Interesting research reported in Internal Medicine, following a huge group of doctors and nurses over 25 years, reveals that every extra slice of 100 percent wholewheat bread that you add to your diet results in a 9% decrease in mortality from heart disease.
The reason is probably to do with two compounds called choline and betaine; interesting research shows that they reduce three important inflammatory markers.
That 9 percent is massive. Fewer than 5% of Americans are enjoying the recommended 3 ounces of whole grains per day.
More, simply replacing one portion of white bread, with a slice of 100% wholewheat reduces your overall mortality by 8 percent. Less of that other nasty too; colorectal cancer.
Read the labels; make sure your breakfast cereals, bread and pasta state "100 percent whole wheat" and don't be fooled by the colour or terms like multigrain. The millers cheat and will do anything to fool you into buying an inferior product; the germ and bran they sell at great profit to the vitamin companies and pig farmers. Expect to pay more; it's worth the extra.
More than 95% of Americans do not get the recommended minimum of three ounces of whole grains per day and less than a half of the recommended fibre of roughly 40 grams; don't be one of them.
Other research reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology reveals a 10% lower mortality with an increase of 10g of fibre in the diet: two slices of whole wheat bread, one serving of legumes like hummus and a helping of broccoli. Researchers acknowledge that it's probably not just the fibre in these foods that contribute to better health.
Does flour go bad? What do the millers do to stop that? Easy, they remove the fatty fraction to increase the shelf life and sell you that healthy wheat germ oil at ten times the price to protect your blood vessels from atherosclerosis; and wheat bran to cure your rabbit pellets. Actually added bran is a bad way to deal with constipation; it adsorbes calcium and that's bad news for women.
And interesting research proves that grandmother's recipe is better than the best medical treatment anyway; three to six prunes a day. They are trying to find a way to sell you the rich vein of phytosterols in freshly ground whole wheat flour too; they keep your cholesterol down and protect dad's prostate gland, but to my knowledge that's not done yet.
So, there are three options.
You can go out and buy a wheat grinder and find a source of good organic wheat. Or, you can buy the vitamins and essential fatty acids, the wheat bran and phytosterols found in healthy flour. Or you can go without, and accept poorer health and the cost that goes with it.
You think I'm radical? The eminent cardiologist Dr Shute points out heart disease was almost unknown prior to the refining of wheat about a hundred and fifty years ago. He attributes it to the anti coagulating properties of the tocopherol vitamin.
So, cooking with wholemeal implies you have access to freshly ground healthy flour. Don't bother baking with old wholewheat meal; the rancid fatty acids are probably more detrimental to your body than the refined grain is.
Certainly demand that the whole wheat flour has a date printed on the bag stating when it was ground.
However, there are other considerations when it comes to making your own healthy flour. There are various insects and fungi that also know just how healthy wheat is. The agricultural industry uses very toxic chemicals like phostoxin to keep them at bay. They claim it has a relatively short half life and won't affect us humans. I'm a doubting Thomas.
What I do is to purchase my wheat early in the season and ask for an assurance that it hasn't been poisoned. Then when it arrives we have an old deep freeze that is dedicated to storing such foods. It's the only way to keep the bugs out; toxic poisons or freeze your whole wheat granules.
And, if there are a few insects ground up in your flour, they add a bit of protein and are certainly less troublesome than the unseen poisons. What the eye doesn't see, your family won't whinge about.
But it adds another expense dimension. We get around that by using the energy from Mr Golden Sun to power our solar generator. That freezer runs only during the day when electricity is free. It's about a whole alternative lifestyle that we greenies are espousing. Spend time, energy and money on healthy living, or a great deal more of the same on doctors; take your pick.
So, healthy flour comes at a price. Once your systems are in place, it doesn't take a great deal of time. Every morning I take whole wheat kernels from the freezer, grind them in our Hawo which takes perhaps two or three minutes, and then proceed with baking our low GI bread as usual.
You could use it for your general baking, but recognise that wholewheat won't produce cookies and cakes with the same consistency as using cake flour.
Frankly, they're junk food and if you want to be healthy then reserve such for high and holy days only. I'm very conscious, as a doctor, of the madness that some develop in relation to food; that's to be avoided at all costs. The occasional junk food does less harm to your body, in my opinion, than a food neurosis does to your mind.
Beware if you find yourself becoming someone who can only talk about what you can't and won't consume. If you refuse to eat out because the cook may have used margarine, or MSG or hydrogenated oils, or any such, then there's trouble ahead.
The Hawo is beautifully made and, because it draws only 230 watts, it can be easily powered by solar power energy; if you have the equipment to capture it. That energy is free but collecting and storing it, and converting the electrical energy to a usable form is not cheap. About ten thousand dollars is what I paid out, but then in a country with a steady supply of electricity, you wouldn't need the batteries. They cost about one fifth of the total.
The synergy of green living more than makes up for the cost and schlep; life is simpler with less pain and the cost of poor health.
Does flour go bad? Yes, it certainly does, and especially if the anti oxidant vitamin E has been removed. I find it scandalous that the food industry can call flour from which 40% of the goodies have been removed, "whole wheat flour".
Healthy flour is a highly perishable product because of the sensitive nature of substances like vitamin E and omega 3.
If you bake daily, you'll pay off the cost of this top of the range Hawo in less than two years; mine is still going strong after 25 years, with never a hiccough.
You could purchase a cheaper electric flour mill; the only one I don't recommend is a hand driven one; they don't get the flour fine enough. I used one for several years whilst a chiropractic student in Chicago.
The vitamin E in healthy flour is particularly of the alpha isomer; why is that important and what is gamma tocopherol?
Start with wheat from the freezer; slightly more perhaps than you expect to use, and pour into the wheat grinder bowl. I sometimes put it through twice, so you'll see the remains of some ground wheat on the sides.
Fresh whole wheat flour is particularly rich in vitamin E but don't expect to find any if it's been on the shelf in the supermarket for a few weeks.
Incidentally, and this is important, don't buy vitamin E capsules that have only alpha tocopherol; it increases the risk of prostate cancer by competitively inhibiting the absorption of the gamma tocopherol that gives protection against cancer.
Healthy flour is one of the main sources of another vitamin, B1, called thiamine; mild shortages produce fatigue and chronic heart failure, but severe deficiencies cause generalised muscle weakness and a serious, fatal disease called beri-beri.
It takes no time at all to grind the wheat for our low GI bread. When it reaches the top pink mark, turn the grinder off. The black marks are for a half loaf. Healthy flour and water levels respectively.
Healthy flour is rich in wheat germ and bran but don't use bran products if you suffer from constipation. You'll find better solutions at quick constipation relief with none of the side effects of too much bran.
What are phytosterols, and which are to be found in healthy flour you may be asking? It's all about the lignans in the bran.
Five hours later you have the most delicious healthy bread made entirely without the tricks the baking industry uses to put a loaf on your table.
What's more it comes in at half the price of low GI bread from the supermarket; bake it yourself.
I've alluded several times to the fact that healthy flour is particularly rich in phytosterols. More, refined flour has none. In short, they are plant fats with a structure very similar to animal cholesterol; they compete for absorption, reducing the bad fraction of blood cholesterol.
Tabbouleh bulgar wheat is a Lebanese dish particularly rich in phytosterols.
Research shows it's better to get your smart bran from 100 percent wholemeal than as a refined and then enriched cereal.
The fatty acids in healthy flour
Healthy oils in wheat
The omega 3 linolenic acid in healthy flour is one of its vital constituents that is extracted by refining.
All these are healthy oils but a few things are noteworthy.
Let your food be your medicine was the sound advice of the famous sage Hippocrates; he is given the credit for being the founder of both medicine and chiropractic.
Now who on the planet had a more delicious and healthy lunch than the one I enjoyed today? All I could think to improve it would be a portion of smoked wild salmon.
Butter not margarine, note, in liberal amounts. It lowers the GI of your meal further and, in a meal of so much phytosterol, you need have absolutely no fear. You can enjoy your bread and butter without fear.
Can you go overboard about this health food stuff? Yes, you certainly can. If you find you can talk about nothing else than the foods you can't eat, and you start refusing dinner dates because the cooking might contain this, or that, or the other, then you may be in danger of what I call health nut neurosis. It's a serious psychological malady.
Instead just enjoy more wholewheat bread, an apple a day and plenty of salads. Just one apple a day reduces your risk of dying by a massive 41%, the Predimed study found. It's astonishing, and so easy. Do it!
For millennia, before commercial yeast was available in neat little packets, the leaven was made from a mixture of rye flour, raw honey and water. It's so easy to make yourself, and then you keep it in the fridge, feeding it periodically with more rye and honey; then you add it to your healthy flour.
This natural fermentation of the bread dough is what helps break down the proline that causes gluten intolerance in many, and the phytic acid in the bran that binds minerals like iron and calcium. With Tired all the Time syndrome becoming endemic in Western women, eating mineral rich foods, but also combining them correctly to enhance the absorption of those nutrients is important.
You have to use unchlorinated water which would kill the yeast cells and lactobacilli. Probably contributes to killing us too, but then typhoid and cholera also kill. Harvesting your own rainwater is the best choice of all.
Follow this sourdough bread recipe for more directions on making your loaf using a bread machine. It takes me less than ten minutes, including grinding your healthy flour, plus another five hours of course.
Bread experiments enable you to bake an even better loaf.
Are phytates bad is an important question.
Bread is often fingered as a cause of obesity; that really only applies to the loaves bought in the supermarket from which much of the fibre, fats and vitamins have been removed.
Healthy flour is even less of a problem particularly if you follow this vegan seed bread recipe. The added fibre, protein and fatty acids lower the glycemic index even further.
For reasons that remain unknown, but is certainly linked to the huge surge in autoimmune diseases of the last fifty years, an abnormal immune response to a foreign substance in the diet causes inflammation that destroys the cells, called oligodendrocytes, that produce myelin in the brain and cord.
Once that myelin is damaged nerve conduction is slowed causing multiple sclerosis.
In short, try to keep that ratio of omega 6 to 3 in your diet well below 10; in the typical American diet this ratio is often above 20, and even over 60 in some cases. It causes inflammation, affecting nerves, muscles, joints and blood vessels that become red and angry.
Use olive oil to reduce the omega 6, and eat fatty fish to increase the omega 3; whilst much of the research about MS is confusing and contradictory, there's general agreement that less animal fat, and more plant fats is beneficial if you are suffering from MS.
Eat bread made from 100% whole wheat flour that is rich in oleic acid, a large part of myelin; it's high in olive oil too. This olive bread recipe is a good way to start.
Having said that, healthy flour is not easy to get, unless you grind the wheat yourself.
Try as much as possible to stick to natural healthy foods, and avoid fast foods. Apply your mind to getting your ten coloured foods per day.
Otherwise there is a great increase in the risk of tingling in arms and hands and feet, and you know what.
Research in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine March 2015, reveals that every extra serving (28g/day) was associated with a 5% lower risk of overall mortality, and 9% lower risk of cardiovascular disease; that's healthy hearts.
The reasons are complex but in other research reported in JAMA revealed that women eating 6 portions of whole grains every week had less coronary artery calcification and less stenosis. However the fibre from fruit and veggies and refined grains had no benefit on slowing cardiovascular disease.
Using your own healthy flour clearly has enormous benefits.
With research showing that taking calcium tablets causes deposition in the intima of the coronary arteries and increased heart disease, it confirms that we must look to our food for nutrients.
Whilst your healthy flour has only small amounts of calcium, it all contributes. 1 cup of bulgar wheat, for example, contains 18mg of calcium.
It's tragic that all supermarket bread has added calcium; it's one of the many causes of high blood pressure; bake your own.
Choline is now recognised as one of the B complex vitamins, and betaine is its metabolite; they are vitally involved in methylating highly inflammatory homocysteine and turning it back into methionine.
A deficiency of choline and betaine significantly raises the value of three inflammatory markers; hence the effect of healthy flour on heart disease; it's a good source of this vitamin.
If you are suffering from the ravages of anticholinergic side effects then it's time to stop and consider; they are very dangerous medicines. We mess with the choline in our bodies at our peril.
Choline food sources include eggs, liver and the green leafy vegetables in addition to 100% whole wheat.
Interesting letters from readers