Saturday, March 31, 2007

What is Whole Wheat?


Raisin Bran
Originally uploaded by Points North.
I recently heard a tidbit, which voracious readers may already know about, but I was astounded. I googled the topic, just to make sure it was really true, it sounded so McCarthyish. But it's true. Apparently whole wheat in Canada is not really whole wheat. It's white flour banged together with bran to make it look dark and fibrous and all healthy. Trouble is it's missing the key ingredient, the part that's full of nutrition, the part that prevents insulin levels from rising like a Raptor sky shot: the endosperm.

The endosperm contains valuable gluten, a rich source of protein. Yup. That's the same ingredient that's been tainted in pet food with toxic materials used as fertilizers only in Asia. Anyway, turns out the government of Canada said to flour makers, hey it's OK to strip off the endosperm and sell it so that you can make a tidy profit from selling the gluten, then do what the conventional sugar makers do when they make brown sugar: adulterate the white part with a little dark to make it look like the real thing.

So at the same time the government of Canada and health organizations lament the rising tide of obesity; at the same time that the experts and the government recommend switching to whole wheat from white flour; at that same time, they've allowed flour manufacturers and food producers to call white flour "whole wheat" by the simple addition of bran.

They've prevented us from preventing our own obesity.

As we blithely eat our "healthy" whole wheat bread, cereal, and pasta, the carbs in those products send our insulin levels as high as white flour products do, causing our little fat cells to swell and gorge on sugar, leading to us becoming fat. Way to go government of Canada. Thank you very much for helping me not lose weight.

Now, I'm sure some flour manufacturers either add back the gluten or don't strip the endosperm at all so that their "bread flour" will result in decent bread when we bake at home, but how will I know if it's just add-back gluten or the entire endosperm? And which flour products are truly whole wheat? it seems to me that just to get real whole wheat, I'll have to go to places like Pioneer Village where they stone grind the flour and do nothing else to it but bag the stuff. But that doesn't help me when it comes to cereals and pasta. What about those? Do I bother exercising my jaws on those anymore? Or is it a fool's game to think they'll help me? I think I'll just go back to potatoes. They're yummy, and best of all something strange happens to them when you let them cool down and reheat them: they become a low-glycemic food, far healthier than what the government of Canada allows to masquerade as whole wheat.

2 comments:

whatigotsofar said...

I knew it. The whole wheat flour tastes too similar to that bleached white flour.

But what about the "organic" whole wheat flour or other types of flour. Um, let's say spelt or rye flour.

talk talk talk said...

That's why it's so palatable! Apparently the reason for this regulation.

The Canadian Diabetes Association, Heart and Stroke Foundation, and Dietitians of Canada responded to Health Canada's paper on food-related health claims. It's interesting what they say the definition of whole grains and whole wheat (see page 2) ought to be and how they include spelt, rye, etc. as whole grains, meaning the entire grain with nothing stripped off.

I couldn't find, in a quick search, what the organic regulations are for the definition of "whole wheat." I plan on buying organic American flour from now on, and American whole wheat pasta if I can find it, something I never ever contemplated before as I'm a staunch advocate of buying from my own country. But if my own country is causing my insulin resistance and weight to rise, then screw 'em.