Your Facebook questions answered: Whole wheat flour brands

“Seeing the date-nut recipe reminds me of a question I’ve been meaning to ask you: is the whole wheat flour we buy actually whole grain? After your comment a couple of weeks ago about whole wheat not actually being whole grain, I’ve been discouraged and dismayed! All this time I thought I was doing the right thing by using ww flour, when in fact it might not be as good as I was hoping for! Are you   allowed to tell us which brands are okay and which aren’t?”, asks Enlightened Eater Facebook fan Karen Jorgenson Cooper.

Karen, you’re not alone in being discouraged and dismayed about the whole wheat flour issue.  I continue to be astounded by the fact that Canada is the only country in the world where the term whole wheat does not mean whole grain wheat.

For those of you reading this and scratching your head wondering what I am talking about, here it is: In Canada, outdated legislation   allows for up to 70 per cent of the germ to be removed and the product can still be called whole wheat.

A whole grain contains the entire kernel of the grain which includes three parts – the outer bran, the endosperm and the inner germ. So if you thought that whole wheat should mean the entire kernel of a wheat grain, you would be wrong if you’re Canadian.

Health Canada thinks that if you’re looking for whole grain wheat, you should look for “whole grain whole wheat”.  It seems redundant to me. Would you agree?

As a result, if you purchase whole wheat flour – if it’s a Canadian brand, with a few exceptions,  it’s likely not whole grain. It’s still offering you more in the way of nutritional value than all-purpose but whole grain is the best.

Here’s a wrap up of  some of  the flours available, mainly at various supermarkets:

Rogers 100% Whole Grain Whole Wheat Flourwhole grain

Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour (U.S. company) – whole grain

Rogers Whole Wheat Bread Flournot whole grain

Robin Hood ® Whole Wheat All Purpose Flour– not whole grain

Five Roses  All Purpose Whole Wheat Flournot whole grain

Western Family Whole Wheat Flour not whole grain

King Arthur’s  Whole Wheat Flour (via website order) – whole grain

There are also smaller producers who sell whole grain whole wheat flours in various parts of the country. For example,  Anita’s Organic Mill not only produces whole grain whole wheat but also an assortment of sprouted grain flours.

You might also consider using other whole grain flours such as barley or rye in your baking.

Now if only Health  Canada would update the regulations dealing with whole wheat flour to be in line with the  long standing scientific evidence, Canadians wouldn’t be duped into thinking they were consuming whole grains when in fact, they may not be.

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Have you been fooled into thinking your whole wheat flour is whole grain but is not? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Categories: Your Questions Answered

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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13 Comments on “Your Facebook questions answered: Whole wheat flour brands”

  1. Kathy
    October 16, 2014 at 4:20 am #

    Speerville flours in New Brunswick is also Whole Grain! The whole wheat I mean. It is a great flour from a small mill.

    • October 16, 2014 at 8:25 am #

      Thanks for letting me know, Kathy! I will add it to the list later today.

  2. Vini
    October 16, 2014 at 5:28 am #

    Kathy is right! Speerville Mills has a wonderful selection of whole grain products, including flour. Problem is, many chain grocery stores don’t carry their product anymore. Small health food stores stock Speerville products, or one can order directly. Well worth it.

    • October 16, 2014 at 8:27 am #

      Thanks, Vini. Can you ask the grocery store in your neighbourhood to carry it – then ask everybody you know to buy it?! I’ve tried it with some small suppliers and it has worked!

  3. sharon pullam
    October 16, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    Rosie what do you think is healthier..a truly whole grain bread or a sprouted bread like those made by Ezekial or Stonemill?

    • October 16, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

      Sharon, sprouted grains are actually whole grain as well. Research is showing that they may offer some added benefits such as easier digestibility and higher availability of some nutrients. I’ll do a post soon on all the research. Thanks for the idea!

  4. Marie Gouin
    October 16, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    In Quebec, I buy only Milanaise brand flours. They are produced right here and are organic. I have always assumed it was whole grain, but now I’m not sure. http://lamilanaise.com/?lang=en

  5. October 16, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    Marie, as I’m not familiar with this brand, I checked out their website. I don’t see a regular whole wheat flour and while they say that their grains are ground on millstones, they also produce refined grains so I’m not sure. I will check with them and see what I come up with!

    • Marie Gouin
      October 17, 2014 at 8:12 am #

      Thank you Rosie. They are artisans and their flours are just so wonderful! You can feel the quality just by touching them. I buy different ones from them and have great success making bread, pies and other baked goods. I particularly like their rye flour, its nutty flavour is wonderful. No matter what, I’ll keep buying this brand… it’s organic, it’s local, it’s made by people who care, and that’s really important to me. Keep up your great work, I find your blog very informative and regularly share your posts on Facebook.

      • Marie Gouin
        October 20, 2014 at 11:47 am #

        Hi Rosie. I have sent the company an email asking if their whole wheat flour was made from whole grain and, if not, what proportion of the bran and germ was removed. I will let you know what they answer.

      • October 20, 2014 at 11:54 am #

        Marie, I sent an email to them on Friday and am waiting to hear back too. As well, thank you so much for your feedback! I really appreciate hearing whether the information I share is useful to others!

  6. October 17, 2014 at 7:27 am #

    Rosie, that was a great and enlightening article. I am familiar with many brands you mentioned that are actually whole wheat

  7. Marie Gouin
    October 21, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    Rosie, I received an answer from La Milanaise. They tell me their whole wheat flour is not whole grain flour. They remove some of the germ.They did not tell me the percentage. They also said they sell a “farine intégrale” (whole grain flour) in grocery stores but I have never seen it and I can’t find it on their website. I have asked for more information. I don’t know if you’re interested in continuing this discussion. This brand seems to be sold in Quebec only.

    If I added wheat bran and wheat germ to my bread recipes, would I get the full benefits of whole grains? They remove them from the flour but sell them separately! If so, do you have any idea what the proportions should be?

    As I wrote earlier, I like the idea of buying locally produced flours (they’re about 140 km from my place), particularly organic ones, so I would love to continue purchasing this brand if I can find a way to improve the nutrition.

    They just emailed me that their whole grain flour is sold in IGA and Loblaws as well as most health food stores. I am now on a mission to find it…

    Thank you for your help. Until I read your blog, I had no idea whole wheat flour was not whole grain…

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