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Food for Thought: Is Freshly Milled Flour more Nutritious?

make flour with Nutrimill grain mill

Sometimes my husband just shakes his head when he walks past me, and I’m never sure why. Recently he confessed, “I’m still sort of in disbelief that you make flour in our basement.”

It’s a big step to go from buying flour to buying 50-pound bags of bulk whole grains and grinding them in your own home (maybe not always in the basement). It does add a few minutes to my bread baking and other grain-based recipes, and the cost of a grinder alone is a commitment as well.

Why bother?

We know that freshly milled grain is the most nutritious of all, but hey – what if you don’t have a grain mill yet?

Since many of us have to buy our grains already in the form of flour, here are a few tips to get the best nutrition out of the situation:

  • Buy flour at a store with a fast turn-around to try to ensure the most freshly ground you can get.
  • Look for unbromated whole wheat flour – King Arthur states that on their package, and Gold Medal claimed to be unbromated when I called the company. It’s one fewer chemical that we don’t need in our bodies.
  • Store your whole grain flours in the freezer whenever possible. You can keep some of it in the refrigerator if that helps keep it close at hand. I only bought flour in bulk in the winter when I could store it in a tub outside and in my garage. Just this time of year, I’ve got to start moving it into my already-packed fridge. So sad!
  • Why the freezer? Keep the oils in the germ from going rancid and try to preserve the enzyme phytase in the bran.

What Happens to Grain After it is Milled into Flour?

Whole grains are very stable and usually don’t spoil, since they don’t have much moisture content and are protected by their own outer layer. As a seed, they’re designed to be preserved at least until next year’s planting and usually well beyond for the proliferation of the species.

However, once milled, the protective coating is smashed to bits and some of the sensitive insides are exposed to air, which changes everything.

Many sources, including my contact at Pleasant Hill Grain, the sponsor of our Nutrimill giveaway, quote that wheat flour loses 40% of its vitamin content in the first 24 hours after milling and 85-90% after 2-3 more days. Here’s a little more in-depth science on what happens:

  • Unsaturated fats in the wheat germ oxidize/go rancid.
  • B Vitamins are destroyed by light and air.
  • Beneficial enzymes start working and play themselves out.
  • Vitamin A is diminished.
  • Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that helps to protect flour from oxidation, deteriorates once milled, especially if the conditions become moist.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Please see the comments for a rebuttal and revision of this information from a well-read passerby, especially this comment and this one. Sounds like the vitamin loss is less significant than I was told and read. There is a lot of misinformation, about nutrition especially, on the Internet. I don’t want to play a part! Soooo…it’s possible that freshly ground grain isn’t a zillion times healthier than not-freshly-ground flour, but it still keeps me in charge of my food. Also, the commenter does say that the vitamins in “enriched” white flour are possibly about equal to that of freshly ground grain, but I’d rather have the natural vitamins than synthetics any day. As usual, it’s up in the air again!

How Long Can you Store Freshly Ground Wheat Flour?

Again, many experts would say “Use it right away!” However, I for one simply cannot grind flour every time a need a few Tablespoons to feed my sourdough starter, so I store extras in my refrigerator or freezer. The freezer is best, but there’s a bit of a space premium on frozen air in my house.

  • At room temperature: As little as 2 days, but some sources say up to 5 days would be okay. If your flour is already “soaking” in a recipe, don’t worry about rancidity. Other processes have already begun!
  • In the refrigerator: 10 days
  • In the freezer: up to 30 days
  • Some sources at this very comprehensive source set the standard for flour storage at 15-60 days, but they also admit rancidity has been found as early as two days after milling. Fresh is best!

The Scary Rat Experiment

In Germany in 1970, scientists conducted a rat feeding study to examine the value of whole grains. Rats were fed half of their food in the form of bread or flour. They were separated into five groups:

  1. fresh, stone-ground flour
  2. bread made with fresh, stone-ground flour
  3. fresh flour stored for 15 days
  4. bread made with the 15-day stored flour
  5. white flour

After four generations of rats, those in groups three and five were infertile. Only groups one and two maintained appropriate fertility. (Not sure about group four…) Four generations of rats is equivalent to about 100 years for the human race. I don’t think I need to connect many dots for you or help you with the math of refined baked goods and the surge of commercial flour vs. home milled. How many people do you know who have struggled to conceive?

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Buying Healthy Whole Wheat Flour

What if you don’t have access to a grain mill to grind you own flour? It’s just not realistic that everyone can achieve this. Buying commercially milled flour doesn’t have to be scary.

First, commercial flour generally has the wheat germ removed, since that’s the part with the unstable oils that would cause the whole thing to go rancid. You might miss out on a few vitamins and nutrients, but avoiding the risk of rancidity is worth it.

When you purchase flour at a store, try your best to buy from a store with a high turnover rate, so you can at least hope that your bag of flour hasn’t been sitting on the shelf for a very long time. When you get it, freeze it right away.

I like to look for “certified chemical free” flour from mail order sources. Here in Michigan we have some access to Country Life Naturals, where they have some really nice flour.

In the store, it’s important to avoid potassium bromate, often added to flour as an enhancer. It’s pegged as a cancer risk and banned in many other countries (but not the U.S.). You can tell if your store whole wheat flour is unbromated if it states it on the package (like King Arthur brand) or by calling the company. I checked with Gold Medal for you, and they assured me their whole wheat is unbromated.

Did you see the other post for today? A $149 value giveaway that will help you learn to grow bacteria (yum!) and boost your family’s nutrition! Check it out. Nutrimill giveaway coming tomorrow morning at 6 a.m.!

See my full disclosure statement here.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

70 thoughts on “Food for Thought: Is Freshly Milled Flour more Nutritious?”

  1. We’re in the second year of the covid pandemic. I have a Country Living Grain Mill I bought years ago and hardly used because it’s manually powered. I made an extension handle for $5 vs the one sold for $30. Am beginning to use it again. First loaf is fermenting now.
    The motorization kit cost $500, but if I wanted to motorize, I could easily do it for under $100. Right now, am making bread with 1/3 whole wheat flour (takes about five minutes to mill 150 grams) but if it gets tedious…

  2. Dane and Tim. You are incorrect. Freshly milled flour DOES lose a good amount of it’s nutrients after it is milled. The only reason store bought bread does not go bad sitting on my counter for two weeks is because they put in tons of synthetic vitamins and preservatives, etc that keep it from getting moldy. Who wants fake bread? I’d rather have the real wholesome freshly milled bread any day. And yes with all the nutrients intact.
    Do you honestly think just because you cite a couple articles that you are correct and Katie is wrong? Or as well, a reputable company like Bob’s Red Mill? Many scientific articles support what Katie said.

  3. I looked into the paper on rats that you highlighted. The 3 links you have listed do not link to any scientific literature. When I found the paper and translated it from German,, it mentioned feeding rats different preparations of fats. It made no mention at all of flour, grains, or fertility. The authors basically just concluded that certain fat preparations change the way the liver processes fatty acids. I see several other sites list similar conclusion as you have from this paper. Can you explain this? I know nutrition research is hard to do and hard to interpret but having erroneous information veiled in hard evidence is very misleading. I am a family doctor with no ties to industry and am genuinely interested in finding ways to improve health. Please check sources before giving out misinformation. If you meant to quote something else, please post the link to the primary literature. Thank you.

  4. Hi,

    I keep searching for this information when I should be just asking in a forum like this. Anyway I think you’d agree that freshly ground wheat taste better than a lot of what you buy in the store. Here’s my question though. I’ve heard that even store bought healthy breads can’t compare to the quality of fresh ground. So do you think that includes Ezekiel 4:9 produced by Food for Life?. After eating fresh wheat for a while I’d have to say yes but I’m not quite sure. I just think no one wants to go back to any kind store bought bread or other grains. Thanks for any input.

    1. Ezekiel bread is kind of different – I think they say they use some sprouted grains. It’s definitely a healthier bread than most breads in a store. Not sure if they use freshly ground wheat/grains or do they maybe even bake with whole grains? I might ask their customer service line how the bread is made, i.e. how freshly ground the flour is. Good luck! 🙂 Katie

  5. Wow so flour regardless of source is suppose to just be dead food ” since its cooked and not really offer any benefits beyond basic fiber, carbohydrate, and protein content? Did I even read someone state its on longer organic matter because the seed was ground or cooked? Further it will not decompose? That is literally ALL utter nonsense. Really so its what synthetic now? I think ALL of the scientific community would disagree with you on those points. Have you never seen mold on bread? You do understand that is part of the decomposition process you have claimed does not happen. As far as being organic try a dictionary. Better yet a scientific based one or look up classifications organic vs synthetic.

    Do not even get me started with the comparison of a baked seed and one that is crushed. I could slightly damage the outside of a seed and it will not sprout. Does this also mean it no longer had any of its nutritional components and in now no longer organic and will not decompose. Sorry while I can sort of understand the points you are trying to make and in fact agree with some parts of what I THINK you are trying to state much of it is not correct. What is worse is you make it as a statement of fact. When at best its nothing but your opinion and has no support in science or frankly even common sense. Bread is not organic and do not decompose? Seriously !?!

    All protein is just broken down so one offers no more than any other as the body synthesizes all it needed from the basic amino acids?

    BTW the body does not make its own Vit C but it synthesizes a compound that seems to act in similar ways to that of vit c. Huge difference there. Unless you think all those people that developed scurvy in the past were all made up. After all their bodies would have just made their own vit C right?

    There is so much wrong with trying to make big broad statements like these its not even funny. It mislead and misinforms people. At the very least qualify what you say with “this is what I read” as opposed to stating it like facts from some position of authority.

    Here is just one of a a number of studies by real researchers/scientists that clearly shows the vast health difference between flours from different grain varieties and processing. I can not show the graphs from the study but you can look up the full study and see them. It should be noticed that the mineral contents came from the digested flour of each. That is after cooking the bread. This also includes polyphenols as well as various lipids. All of these have clear and well documented health effects. So to make bread sound like some sort of dead inorganic non-decomposing food flies in the face of what science and research have shown us.

    —————————————————–

    Effects of Short-Term Consumption of Bread Obtained by an Old Italian Grain Variety on Lipid, Inflammatory, and Hemorheological Variables: An Intervention Study, Francesco Sofi, Journal of Medicinal Food, June 2010, 13(3): 615-620

    Abstract

    The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of short-term dietary intake of bread obtained by a selected variety of old grain grown in Tuscany, Italy on some parameters related to the atherosclerotic process. Twenty healthy subjects (median age, 39.5 years) followed for 10 weeks a diet containing bread (150g/day) made from the test grain (test period) and for the same period a diet containing commercially available bread of the same quantity (control period). Lipid, inflammatory, and hemorheological profiles before and after dietary intervention were evaluated.

    The test period showed a significant (P<.05) improvement of total cholesterol (pre-intervention, 211.2±10.8mg/dL; post-intervention, 196.5±9.8mg/dL) and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels (pre-intervention, 137.5±8.1mg/dL; post-intervention, 119.5±7.5mg/dL), whereas no significant changes during the control period were observed. With regard to inflammatory and hemorheological parameters, the test period showed a significant decrease in some of the parameters investigated (interleukin-8 [pre-intervention vs. post-intervention, 67.4±10.7 vs. 43.9±4.1pg/mL], whole blood viscosity at high [4.36±0.03 vs. 4.32±0.03mPa·s, respectively] and low [26.1±0.4 vs. 24.8±0.5mPa·s, respectively] shear rates, and erythrocyte filtration [8.4±0.7% vs. 9.1±0.6%, respectively]) relative to the control period, which showed no significant changes.

    Short-term dietary intake of whole grain bread obtained from an old grain variety seems to impose a favorable status with regard to lower circulating levels of markers of atherosclerosis.

    Introduction

    Whole grain products have been reported to have several positive effects on human health.1,2 All the major scientific associations providing nutritional recommendations to prevent major diseases put carbohydrates in the first place of the pyramid for a health diet.3,4 The benefits of carbohydrates on the risk of cardiovascular diseases are mostly determined by their structure and content.5 Carbohydrate foods contain several nutrients that may reduce risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as several phenolic acids with antioxidant properties, vitamin E, linoleic acid, and phytoestrogens.6 Actually, bread obtained with semi-integral flour produced by “stone mill” and by acid leavening (sourdough) contains a large amount of vitamin B6 and folic acid, both B-group vitamins. Cereals, and in particular whole wheat products, are an important source of mineral and trace elements such magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper.7 These elements are mainly present in the aleuronic layer of bread wheat grains.8,9

    Recently, it has been demonstrated that several beneficial components of cereals depend on the production, storage, processing, and climatic conditions of the source grains.10,11 Indeed, it has been reported that different varieties of germs contain different levels of B-group vitamins and antioxidants.12 Thus, the identification of some particular variety of germs determining particular types of cereals rich in these supposed beneficial elements seems to be of importance for optimizing diet for prevention of major chronic diseases. In this regard, old wheat varieties seem to have a more variable composition of these secondary metabolites.12 In the last 50 years breeding strategies were aimed at improving the yield production, to increase the kernel protein content, and to adapt the wheat plants at a high chemical fertilization input. This led to a progressive abandonment of the old varieties, which are not suitable for the high-input cultivation system. However, the old varieties can be found either in germoplasm collections or in seed savers. In particular, the old Verna variety is actually commercialized in Tuscany.

    The aim of this crossover dietary intervention study was, therefore, to assess the possible effects of a mid-term consumption of an old selected grain variety on some atherosclerotic markers such as lipid, inflammatory, and hemorheological profiles.


    The Bread Used

    The bread used for the experiment was derived from the Verna cultivar, an old commercial bread wheat Italian variety grown in organic cultivation. Stone-ground (semi-integral) flour was used for the bread production. This bread was obtained by acid-dough rising for 4–5 hours. The chemical composition of Verna flour—in particular, total proteins (CHN elementary analysis), lipids (Soxhlet method), total polyphenols (high-performance liquid chromatography), and total flavonoids (colorimetric method)—was detected and compared with those of new varieties (six) of bread wheat (Table 1).

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    Concentrations of the principal mineral elements zinc, iron, copper, magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, and sodium in the grain digests were determined by inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometry (Table 2). The semi-integral Verna flour was characterized by a total protein, polyphenol, and flavonoid content superior to the new varieties' content (Table 1). Moreover, the content of mineral elements—in particular, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc, which are essential for human diet—is significantly higher in the Verna flour variety in comparison to the new ones (Table 2).

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    Discussion

    In this 10-week crossover feeding trial in clinically healthy subjects we found that consumption of semi-integral bread obtained from the Verna variety, an old variety of Italian bread wheat, is able to improve lipid, inflammatory, and hemorheological profiles. Conversely, consumption of the same duration of commercially available bread did not show such significant effects on the atherosclerotic risk profile of these subjects. This is one of the few articles showing that bread produced from a stone-ground flour obtained from an old grain variety is able produce positive effects on some patterns related to atherosclerotic disease.

    The importance and health benefits of whole grain consumption in the prevention of chronic diseases such as neoplastic and cardiovascular diseases have been widely documented.1,2 However, the attention paid to grain consumption has been little compared to that for other foods such as fruits and vegetables, although nutritional guidelines put grains and grain products at the base of the food guide pyramid to emphasize their importance for optimal health.3,4 Carbohydrate intake in the Italian population is peculiar, as Italy shows the highest consumption of carbohydrates from refined cereals. The main sources of carbohydrates in the Italian population are bread and various types of pasta, accounting altogether for almost 40% of the total carbohydrate intake.13

    To date, consumption of grain products with a high content of whole grain flour, milled from all edible components of grains, has been inversely associated with mortality from and incidence of diabetes and ischemic heart disease in several prospective studies.14 Conversely, intake of refined flour, which consists mainly of the starchy endosperm, was not associated with diabetes and ischemic heart disease risk in these studies. It has been hypothesized that the observed health benefits of whole grain intake may be attributable to the synergistic effects of dietary fiber and micronutrients found in whole grain foods. Indeed, the bran and germ components of whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytoestrogens.

    Our study shows a clear beneficial effect of intake of such an old variety of bread wheat on lipids, inflammatory markers, and hemorheological variables over a 10-week period of dietary intervention. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of a possible influence of dietary intervention with this variety of bread on hemorheological profile.

    Epidemiological studies have shown that increased blood viscosity is associated with several cardiovascular risk factors as well as with both prevalent and incident cardiovascular diseases.15,16 Mechanisms by which elevations in rheological factors may promote cardiovascular events are different and include increases in blood pressure, shear stress, ischemia, and blood vessel wall interactions. A relevant feature of the rheological flow is the erythrocyte morphology because the deformability of circulating cells greatly influences the rheological properties of the blood, thus playing a key role in maintaining and regulating the microcirculation. Under pathologic conditions, the erythrocyte deformability is altered, thus affecting the rheological environment at the level of the microcirculation. We previously found an influence of dietary habits on hemorheological parameters.17

    In the present study a significant improvement of all the hemorheological parameters after the dietary intervention with the test bread in comparison to the placebo bread was observed, thus improving the deformability of red blood cells and of the rheological characteristics of the blood.

    The mechanisms by which such whole grain bread may contribute to health benefits remain to be fully elucidated. It is known that whole grains are a rich source of fiber, minerals (magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, manganese, zinc, and iron), vitamins (B group and vitamin E), and related antioxidants.18 These compounds all may have important biological functions so that by themselves, or by interacting with other substances, they could make an important contribution to reduction in cardiovascular risk. In our study, intake of “healthy” bread was inversely associated with circulating levels of inflammatory markers. Although other observational studies of whole grains have not included measures of inflammation, several studies have estimated measures of carbohydrate quality in relation to inflammatory markers.19

    Notably, in our study we found, similar to what was observed in the Framingham Offspring Cohort study,20 a beneficial effect of bread consumption on total and LDL-cholesterol. On the other hand, however, in our study we were not able to observe any influence of the test bread on HDL-cholesterol or triglycerides. These results are in line with some studies20,21 but in conflict with another study.22 The discrepancies observed can be explained by several factors. First of all, intake of grain products was estimated on the basis of servings and not quantitatively, which makes a comparison of the different results difficult; furthermore, grains consumed in these studies are different from bread consumed in our intervention study, thus likely having a different content of fiber, minerals, and vitamins, with a different effect on triglycerides.

    Our study has several main limitations. An important limitation is the restricted sample size of the study. Further and larger studies need to be conducted before drawing any firm conclusion on the effects of such food products on human health. The results of the present study are just a promising basis for evaluating more completely this aspect of clinical nutrition.

    Another limitation is the lack of assessment of dietary habits and physical activity in our study population. The possibility that changes in dietary and/or lifestyle habits have significantly affected parameters investigated cannot be excluded, although, before enrollment, all subjects were instructed by physicians and by an expert dietician to maintain their usual lifestyle habits.

    Conclusions

    Dietary short-term intake of whole grain bread obtained by an old variety seems to impose a favorable status with regard to lower circulating levels of markers of atherosclerosis. Regular consumption of such an old variety of whole grain bread may be useful for reducing the cardiovascular risk burden of the general population.

    —————————————-

    Yes the body can synthesize many of the things it needs but to equate this to the protein source really does not have any effect is a huge jump. Just because the body does eventually break down the whole proteins into individual amino acids does not mean they do not have health effects prior to this. There is plenty of research that shows the health effects of the various polypeptides proteins. In fact there is a significant use of specific proteins in cancer treatments these days.

    There are many enzymes that exists as well as various positive bacteria strains etc..

    This all without even getting into the topics of actual make up of the muscle tissue from our meat sources from what their diet and environment has been. Example would be the differences between grass feed free range cattle and that of feedlot. The same can be seen in that of free range chicken eggs and those of caged chickens.

    It does make a difference to the body. If it did not then technically we could all live healthy lives by ingesting only essential amino acids for our protein source and nothing else. After all the body only needs these to produce any amino acid or muscle building block t needs correct?

    The body as well as the make up of the various plants and animal tissue we consume as food is far far more complex than this, in both their make up as well as their effects.

    None of this even touches the the various chemicals etc used in the processing of grains etc.. Off the top of my head I recall there is something like 60+ chemcials that are approved for use in the making of flour. No all are not used at once but from what I recall there is on average 6-10 used together from the list in various combos. Further you can not usually purchase whole grain flour the same as you make as it tend to go rancid within a couple weeks. Further stone ground flour tends to be courser and then holds more of the nutritional content and this can translate into high content in the bread. The above study as well as others shows this.

    Then there are all the enzymes and probiotics that come from the fermentation process that is used in most all traditional as opposed to commercial proceeded breads.

    Sorry this is so disjointed in the way the info flows but these comment sections are not designed to make good presentations as you can with other software. Its more for quick comments.

    Point being there are numerous health benefits from fresh ground grains and even more so for the old world grains and the other style of processing i.e. stone grinding. There is far more to the nutritional make up and health benefits than simply the vitamin content. Same goes for most other foods as well. Open science vs those sponsored by large food corps is clearing showing the huge health benefits there are to a more natural food sources compared to our commercialized food chain produces. But big Corps will always look for ways to turn a larger profit thus will always have to be watched with a careful eye. No different than big pharma there goal is profit not our health or well being. As long as this is understood it can be watched and controlled to some extent. It takes effort and personal responsibility to go find out the truth and what the real research shows and not rely on lip service from anyone.

    I would hope no one would just take what I have said here without going and thoroughly researching the information. This means more than reading some article written and taking it for truth. Do not be so naive and a tool. Use your brain and go look at the actual research itself and see what it has found. That is at least getting you closer to real understanding.

    Society today wants everything handed to them on a silver platter and never have to put real effort into finding out what is true or not. People here are taking that first step and trying to do for themselves to better their health thru smarter eating. But do not stop there. There is mis information on both sides. The only way you can know the truth is to take the time and learn and research it for yourself. One thing for sure. You can almost never go wrong getting your food closer to its natural state. Follow that one basic rule and over all while there are exceptions it will workout to a large positive in terms of health.

    Even articles that have listed references can not be taken to be accurate on their face. Many articles list references that either are taken completely out of context to at worst even refute what they are claiming they support. Again this is why you always need to go back to the official research. Sure it could be skewed as well but as its being peer reviewed it will be exposed rather quickly. One thing scientists love to do is to be able to prove another scientist is wrong. They revel in it. This is a good thing for us as its a great safety net to ensure accurate info in research. Its not full proof but its the best we have and not too bad.

      1. Given the same inaccurate comment was repeated in 3 postings here in very affirmed tone, it could be very misleading to certain readers. For the benefit of readers, I found Tim’s straight tone is due. I feel at ease it was not left unaddressed/ unrectified as it could potentially do harm unintentionally.

        I appreciate this article and the various comments here. It is useful. Thank you.

    1. Hello Tim and/or Katie, I would really appreciate your help. I’m pretty confused. I just wanted to know, is there a difference in nutrition value between mill grains and flour? The most important things for me are protein and fiber. I would like to use either whole grain Teff that I will mill just before doing my shake (with fruits and all) or Teff flour. Thank you so much.

      1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

        The nutritional changes should be in vitamin content so if you’re primarily looking at fiber and protein then it won’t be different if you’re getting a whole grain teff flour. I have bought whole grain flours only to open them up and realize they smell rancid several times, so if I had the option I’d mill my own, but it’s a big investment if you don’t have a mill or blender that can grind grains already.

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  7. David Farrall

    Hi

    Just to say that the following link seems to answer a lot of the questions raised.

    http://eap.mcgill.ca/publications/EAP35.htm

    kind regards

    David

    1. I wonder about the relative nutritional value of buying organic flour. After being disappointed with KA unbleached flour (the dough pulled like taffy), I really like the performance of Great River Organic Milling 100% Organic Bread Flour Unbleached Wheat. The color and texture are visually superior to KA. I use it now for all my SD breads.

      I’ve considered buying a grain mill, but I’m not sure if the investment (time/money) is justified. Wheat berries selection is a huge variable as well.

      I’ve been baking breads for decades. I am most impressed with Forkish artisan technique. My bread crusts are deeply browned, caramelized. The interior is light with a sweet earthy taste.

      1. I just wanted to vote that buying a grain mill is worth the time and money.
        I buy Great River organic milling wheat berries off of Amazon for about $30 for 25lbs. My Nutrimil will grind about 7 Cups of berries in about 1 minute or less for bread.

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  10. Guy’s, it doesn’t really matter which type of flour you use – all nutrients will be brutally damaged when your flour is put into the oven at 350F for an hour, or boiled, or baked, or fried etc etc. How are we always leaving out the endgame factor? We effort getting all the nutritiously dense products and safe organic products and they we just kill the nutrients any way. The milling process is far less damaging than the things that go on in the kitchen.

  11. If it is of help, I have a photo tutorial with bread recipe (and another for cinnamon rolls!) at my site at www.everydayhomemaking.com, as well as an article on whole grains with lots of links to read various “takes” on the nutrition aspect.

  12. Dane,
    Would you mind posting some recipes for bread that you use with the freshly milled flour? We also mill our own flour, but have not found a bread recipe that I love yet. Thank you!

    1. Jennifer,
      You’ll want to check here:
      http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2011/01/04/introducing-seeking-the-perfect-homemade-whole-wheat-bread/
      Some good options!
      🙂 Katie

  13. On page 15 of her book, Flour Power (which can conveniently be found on the front page of my website LOL), Marleeta Basey has a chart for you from the USDA — Nutrient Comparison of Hard Red Spring Wheat Berries vs. Unenriched White Flour vs. Enriched White Flour.

    Examples:

    fiber – 12.2 gr vs 2.7 vs 2.7
    calcium 25 vs 15 vs 15 mg
    potassium 340 mg vs 107 v 107
    selenium 70.7 mcg vs 33.9 vs 33.9
    vitamin E 1.01 mg vs. 0.06 vs 0.06
    manganese 4.06 mg vs 0.682

    etc.

    The few enriched items have MORE in the new version than the original, but the other 15 of the 22 major nutrients reduced have no compensation made. And there’s skepticism as to whether the enriched version of the nutrients is as easily assimilated into the body.

    BTW, on the issue of baking heat vs. milling heat:

    “Won’t those vitamins be destroyed anyway in a 400-degree oven? …the fermentation process in breadmaking involves enzymes that protect vitamins during baking. In the case of the B-vitamin thiamin, only 5 to 35 percent is lost in baking, because starch provides some protection. Recently discovered powerful antioxidants in the orthophenols of wheat survive the baking process.” p. 14

    I did a cost comparison a while back and determined that I could make whole-grain bread with fresh, “whole” ingredients and no “stuff I don’t recognize” for under 60 cents a loaf at the time of the post. Comparing this to the store price tag of the least expensive whole-grain bread in our discount grocery, a home mill pays for itself in as little as thirteen weeks, estimating that our family would consume some equivalent of one loaf of bread a day. Now, I re-ran my numbers yesterday with updated grain pricing, olive oil, raw honey etc. increases and it came out to 90 cents a loaf, but I’m sure the storebought price has gone up significantly, too, so I’m guessing the time to return on investment is pretty much the same. 🙂

    1. Vicki,
      What awesome information! Thank you so much for sharing, especially the cost breakdown. 13 weeks! Not long at all…

      Katie

  14. Hi Katie,

    Found your article trying to research some claims that are all over the web, namely that “90% of nutrients are lost in milled grain after 72 hours”.

    We grind our own grain and greatly enjoy home baked bread! Yum. There’s no doubt it is more healthy as well as tasty.

    BUT, as someone with university training in feed grains and animal nutrition, is saddens me that so many good people do not realize they are really misusing the facts.

    The reason we have grains in our diet is not primarily for vitamins. Grain is for energy and fiber and also proteins. Certainly the vitamins are important, but not the essential thing that grains add. The “main” reason we eat grains is not for vitamins. Though the vitamins come in the package are help the overall ingestion of these important nutrients.

    To say that we lose 90% of nutritional value after 72 hours, and then not qualify that statement is simply misinformation. We lose a significant amount of certain vitamins (and this is noteworthy), but that’s only a very small part of the nutrition of grain. We do not lose 90 % of the starch, fiber, protein, energy, etc. Actually, through milling grain, we gain nutrients that would absolutely be inaccessible were the grain not milled. So this makes the above statement even more disturbing (if left unqualified.)

    Don’t know if my point is clear. I would hope folks like you could be more careful in the way you make broad sweeping statements like the ones described above.

    1. Dane,
      I really appreciate your information and the personalization you took to share it. I strongly dislike being a part of misinformation! I edited the post just now – would it be more accurate to say “% of the vitamin content” rather than “nutrients”?

      Now I remember reading a rebuttal of the “90% of nutrients” statement that addressed the protein, starch, etc and how that cannot be lost. I must have inadvertently glazed over it and not ingested the meaning of the information. I do understand what you’re saying, and again, totally appreciate you helping to make my information accurate.

      Just out of curiosity – what’s your family’s motivation for milling your own grains?

      Thanks!! 🙂 Katie

      1. Katie,

        Actual data is hard to come by in really supporting any claims about what percentage of vitamins deteriorate in the first few days after milling grain. Vitamins do oxidize and deteriorate due to light. But as to how much, I have not had success finding actual research data. However, there is lots of data available regarding what cooking does to vitamins. Here’s the link to an informative article and a chart that details how various methods of cooking affects minerals, vitamins, etc. of different foods. The chart I believe is from USDA research compilations: http://nutritiondata.self.com/topics/processing

        In summary, it would NOT be safe to even say that “90% of vitamins deteriorate after 72 hours.” Because there are several vitamins that are much more stable than others, and frankly, are not severely affected by oxidation and light, or even cooking later.

        The safe thing to claim about fresh milled whole grains and the breads we make from them is that they are fresher, have more fiber, and naturally occurring vitamins. Also, they taste much better and if you buy grain in the bulk, home baked bread is much cheaper than store bought.

        One last issue about comparing home ground and baked bread to store-bought bread (even white bread-yuck!), is that white bread has “enriched” flour in it. That means that the vitamins lost when the fiber and germ are removed in the processing, are added back from other vitamin sources, as a supplement to the flour. These supplemented vitamins may be less palatable than the naturally occuring forms, but are still mostly effective in meeting dietary needs for those vitamins. What does this matter? Only that it is not necessarily even accurate to claim home milled and baked bread has “more nutrients” than store bought bread (with enriched flour). The problem with store bought bread is not mainly a vitamin issue (in my opinion), it’s the other preservatives and additives that are put in there.

        Honestly, for those of us who eat a healthy, rounded diet, and who perhaps take a daily multi-vitamin, we urinate away more vitamins each day than we gain from home milling our flour. Again, breads have been called “the staff of life” for thousands of years, not for their vitamins but their carbs, proteins, and fiber.

        Btw, we make our own bread primarily for the taste and then for the cost. Our kids consume this healthy stuff like some kids eat candy! Nothing like hot bread right out of the oven. It’s one of the real wonders of life!

        1. Thank you, Dane! I did what I could with the post and directed readers to your comment for the best information! Appreciate your time – Katie

        2. One comment re: the enriched flour. There are 35-40+ nutrients that are in whole grain wheat, but are replaced with only 5 vitamins. I liked the point you made. It was helpful – I am researching into milling my own grains. Thank you for sharing.

        3. It doesn’t matter to try and maintain and or preserve the nutrient value of the flour. Unless one plans to eat the flour raw, all flour is used for baking or frying etc. This completes the death gauntlet for plants and subsequent flour and their nutrients. Try this at home. Take a seed and bake it for an hour at 350 degrees. Then plant it and see what happens. Nothing will grow. Your bread has zero nutrients left. It will never decompose because it is no longer organic matter. Take another seed, pummel it into flour, add a little water and ball it up and bury it – again, nothing will grow. Enjoy your bread. Just make sure your sandwhich has lettuce and tomatos in it if you want nutrition.

      2. Katie, you are doing a great job and people do not realize how dead their flour is!! organic flour from the store, still has the bran & germ in it which is great, but it is so important for people to realize the value of grinding fresh at home and Never using store flour that is dead of all nutrients including the fiber (when it is white flour) go to www.breadbeckers.com she is a wealth of information and I appreciate finding your website and the info that you have. Keep grinding and educating people about bread. This gluten free society is crazy….they need to cleanse their guts and have good bacteria in their diet and then the fresh ground grain can be a part of their diet. I know personally from intense cleansing for cancer. I had to not have any grain for awhile, but I am back to my fresh ground bread and so thankful for the health benefits it also gives my family!

  15. Great article! I put a link to it on my Tumblr site because I think “ordinary people” will feel more confident about making changes after reading the article.

    One question which I wanted to research is that if the wheat germ is taken out of commercially milled flour, is it okay then to buy the bottled wheat germ and add it back in again?

    1. Barb,
      Interesting thought – the trick would be getting wheat germ that’s not already rancid, but reconstituting like that ought to work otherwise. 🙂

      I’m nothing if not ordinary, I see that as a compliment! 😉 Katie

      1. Okay, so how would I know the wheat germ is not rancid? I would think that wheat germ sold in a vacuum-packed jar is more likely to be okay than wheat germ sold in a plastic package or in bulk. I’ll see what I can find out about this.

      2. I think using wheat germ is a bit more complicated than I originally thought! According to this article: http://www.drkaslow.com/html/wheat_germ_oils.html, the extraction process can damage the wheat germ and basically make the wheat germ useless. So, while wheat germ has many health benefits, I’m thinking that relying on it to add nutrition back into white flour or whole wheat flour is a bit tricky, and expensive.

  16. @ Katie~ You said that commercial flour has the germ removed…but that isn’t the case if we are buying whole wheat flour right?
    Ugh. I’m flipping out on how much of the nutrients are lost so quickly in flour. I thought milling your own at home was *nice* and quaint. I had no idea that it was truly a health necessity almost. I guess I may be looking into a grain mill soon!
    Amy

    1. Amy,
      Actually, I do mean whole wheat flour. Even “whole” wheat flour isn’t quite whole, out of necessity. Good question, though! 🙂 Katie

  17. I recently started sprouting my wheat and then grinding it. However, it doesn’t seem to grind as well in smallish, Kitchen Aid attachment. It takes significantly longer to grind the sprouted wheat compared to the regular stuff. Do I need to let it dry longer? It seemed completely dry, but I could be wrong ;).

    1. Dusti,
      I’ve only milled sprouted flour once or twice, but I think it really depends on how long your sprouts are. I don’t think you’re alone in finding that it takes longer. Kate at http://www.modernalternativemama.com/ or Kimarie at http://thecardamomspod.com are experts you could ask! 😉 Katie

  18. WP @ The Conscious Life

    I never realize that freshly milled flour would make a difference to the taste of foods and even health! Thanks for the informative post! I’ll look at flour the same way ever again.

  19. I ended up buying a grain mill early on in my changes to healthier food, mainly because I discovered that my bread with freshly ground flour rose so much better! We did a side by side comparison at a friend’s house with her freshly ground flour and my King Arthur flour. After that, I was convinced! I bought a Vitalmill, which is only half the price of the Nutrimill, and so far I like it. It is probably slightly more difficult to open and maybe to clean, but it works great!

    Just recently I’ve started having a “baking day” when I make bread, I also make pizza dough to freeze and tortilla dough to freeze or refrigerate, and sometimes even cookies. It doesn’t take a lot more time and doesn’t make too many extra dishes and I’m not grinding wheat more than once a week. I do usually grind some extra flour to freeze to make waffles or pancakes later in the week.

  20. If one is buying organic flour, do we still have to look for the “Certified Chemical Free” label?

    1. No, they are different animals. Companies w/ the CCF label say that sometimes their designation is superior to organic since organic crops could be tainted by chemicals on nearby crops. This is all part of the confusion of “organic” certification. Wheat Montana’s grain is CCF but I believe that I heard that they are going to have an organically certified grain soon too. I always bought theirs and had great success with it.

    2. I’m so glad Adrienne is backing me up on this! She’s right, CCF is just a less expensive way for me to get pretty much organic (close enough for me) grains. 🙂 Katie

      1. Now you’ve got me curious. My buying club has organic wheat berries for about $.75 per lb. (on a 50 lb. bag), plus a per order shipping fee, usually around $2.50. Which would make it $.80, if I didn’t order anything else.

        How does that compare to what you are able to find? The couple links for CFF that I clicked on, were more expensive.

        1. Jason,
          I’m curious too! I always got the flour CCF, 10# for $6.50 or 50# for $25.50. The wheat berries are just regular and organic: 50# for $23.50 and $30 respectively. I pick up from the store or get free shipping on a huge order at my raw milk farm. Country Life Naturals in Mich: http://www.clnf.org/onlinecatalog/index.html I’m interested what others pay around the country though! 🙂 Katie

  21. I would love to grind my own flour eventually. I will have to try storing my flour in the freezer from now on…

  22. I’m hoping that buying sprouted spelt flour keeps some of the nutrients more in tact, yes? Based on the price, I hope so. (Running to put her SS flour in the freezer…)

    1. Melanie,
      Sprouted flour is much more nutritious than regular whole grain flour, but yes, get that stuff in the freezer! It’s just as sensitive, if not moreso. 🙂 Katie

  23. For small amounts of flour as well as flax and other oily seeds, I use my Thermomix from Vorwerk. Wonderful!

  24. Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    I think the BEST thing to do if you don’t want to grind your own is find a friend who might help you out. 🙂 hehehe.

    I tend to grind per project — as needed, BUT, I will usually end up with a little extra (like 1/4 c.) and freeze that. This flour is what I use to feed a sourdough starter or add a little extra as I’m kneading or flour a cutting board. Kind of the best of both worlds. My MAJOR projects are ground fresh but my small ones are from the freezer. When we’re eating grains, anyway. 🙂

    I do definitely think it’s worth it! There are too many experiments like that rat one (I hadn’t heard that one in particular) for my comfort. Rats fed on any aspect of a traditional Western diet either died, became infertile, or grew cancer within 4 generations. We’re rapidly approaching that in our lives and people don’t even see it…. But I do! I’m about the only person I know who hasn’t struggled with SOME aspect of infertility. And I did not grow up on real food so in some ways I got lucky.

  25. I am intrigued by the rat experiment. Do you have more information on that data? I’d love to see it!
    However, I will add my 2 cents to this discussion:
    1) when I first switched from baking w/ whole wheat flour off the shelf in the store to grinding my own (and yes, as Katie says, it is one of those “big steps”), I couldn’t believe how rancid the bread made with the grocery store flour tasted. It was unbelievable!
    2) I have read in numerous places that freezing flour destroys vitamin E (like we needed something else to be concerned about :-))
    3) Country Life Natural Foods, here in Michigan, delivers on trucks to a pretty wide area (free of charge w/ a minimum order) and they will deliver via UPS outside of that. We used to order from them when we lived in OK for 2 years. They are VERY reasonable and have a wide selection outside of grains.

    1. Adrienne,
      Click on the sources above for pretty much everything I found on the study.

      Love Country Life! 😉 Katie

  26. So, when the bread is heated while cooking, does that destroy the nutrients in the wheat? I have always wondered if the point of preparing the grains (sourdough, soaking) is only for making the grains easier to digest OR if it is for increased nutrients? It just makes sense that heating the grains would lessen the nutrient properties. At minimum, I guess using freshly ground grains for bread would ensure the flour used is not rancid, but I am wondering if going through the process of home milling is worth the time if the nutrients are killed during the cooking process. I hope this makes sense – any one have information on this?

    1. Carol,
      That’s a very good question. I suppose some nutrients like Vitamin E must be damaged or diminished or destroyed in the baking process, but the E does its job keeping the flour happy and healthy before you bake with it, I believe. Many fats are only denatured with time/light/oxygen or at temps well over the 200F internal temp your bread will get to.

      Now I’m kind of curious to find out more. It would be really interesting to see a study comparing the nutrients in freshly ground flour vs. the nutrients in a baked loaf of bread.

      Some properties of the grains will not be affected by heat, and many of them are enhanced by souring or soaking, so I still think it’s worth it. Plus, if you can’t digest it well anyway, what’s the point of eating the bread?

      Great question – you got me wondering! 🙂 Katie

      1. Katie, Did you ever get or find this comparison on bread from freshly milled grain after baking and the nutrients?

        1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

          Jennifer,
          We’ve been more or less gluten free for some time now, so I just haven’t been looking into wheat flour at all, sorry!
          🙂 Katie
          So sorry it took me so long to respond…I got absolutely behind on comments when I released the second edition of the snacks book and truly have never caught up.

    2. You are ABSOLUTELY correct.
      Cutting and pasting here (of myself): It doesn’t matter to try and maintain and or preserve the nutrient value of the flour. Unless one plans to eat the flour raw, all flour is used for baking or frying etc. This completes the death gauntlet for plants and subsequent flour and their nutrients. Try this at home. Take a seed and bake it for an hour at 350 degrees. Then plant it and see what happens. Nothing will grow. Your bread has zero nutrients left. It will never decompose because it is no longer organic matter. Take another seed, pummel it into flour, add a little water and ball it up and bury it – again, nothing will grow. Enjoy your bread. Just make sure your sandwhich has lettuce and tomatos in it if you want nutrition.

      1. Oliver, doesn’t the rat study kind of invalidate your theory that ‘all nutritional value is lost’ when the wheat is heated? If that were true, wouldn’t the rats in group #2 have been infertile as well?

  27. When I first heard about flour losing its nutrients after its been milled I was floored. Once we are able to, we will get a grain mill. Its the on the top of my list for my Christmas gift. I also knew that you could mill your flour and freeze it, but can you believe I’ve never thought about freezing the flour I buy at the store to try to preserve any of the nutrients left.
    Thanks for that tip.

    1. Chris. It doesn’t matter to try and maintain and or preserve the nutrient value of the flour. Unless one plans to eat the flour raw, all flour is used for baking or frying etc. This completes the death gauntlet for plants and subsequent flour and their nutrients. Try this at home. Take a seed and bake it for an hour at 350 degrees. Then plant it and see what happens. Nothing will grow. Your bread has zero nutrients left. It will never decompose because it is no longer organic matter. Take another seed, pummel it into flour, add a little water and ball it up and bury it – again, nothing will grow. Enjoy your bread. Just make sure your sandwhich has lettuce and tomatos in it if you want nutrition.

      1. Hi Jon – There are no stupid questions – just stupid marketers still trying to pull the wool over our eyes. People worry cause industry tells them to worry. the truth of nutrients, especially proteins, is that the body and only the body makes them. We just need to provide simple fuel so the body can engineer many of our nutrients on it’s own – with a little help from the sun. Basically what I am saying is protein in chicken only existed to serve that chicken. That chicken’s protein was made by that chicken’s engineering processes (RNA/DNA dynamics and genetic coding etc.) You can’t eat chicken, fish or steak “protein” and expect those protein molecules to be intact and go directly to your muscles or hair or skin etc once consumed. It does not work this way and no one wants to tell you the physiological truth of so many nutrients. Did you know there are still humans who can make their own vitamion C?…

    1. Is the kind of grinder the same for wheat as for gluten free like rice or teff? I can buy teff grain and brown rice and even millet.

      Also, for bean flour, do you grind the unsoaked beans (like garbanzo beans)? Same for oat flour?

      And what about those claims of ‘finely ground using special machinery to keep it cool so as to not loose nutrients’? Are these just marketing?

      I realize it is not an answer for your question, but really just more questions. 🙂

      1. Kristina,
        All good questions!
        1. yes, you can grind rice and teff and such with a Nutrimill.
        2. I haven’t done beans yet – don’t know why – but you’d either have to grind unsoaked beans or soak or sprout beans, then dehydrate them fully before drying.
        3. the claims are quite accurate, as it would be possible for some mills to overheat the flour, causing sensitive nutrients (Vitamin E comes to mind) and fats to oxidize.

        🙂 Katie

    2. Amanda,
      I know it’s possible, and a lot cheaper than buying GF flours! I keep meaning to mill brown rice and see what it looks like. Not sure what to make with it though… A grain grinder would be an extra “must” for me if we were GF, just because those GF flours do tend to be so expensive, whereas the whole grains are not always so.
      🙂 Katie

  28. Wendy (The Local Cook)

    I’ve talked about this with my husband, since he grinds his own grain for making beer (not to flour consistency, apparently you’d need a different machine than the one that lives in my garage). Yes, in an ideal world I’d grind my own flour. But in an even better world I wouldn’t be eating bread at all. Meh, what can ya do.

    1. You can do it if you want to. It’s all about really wanting it. Just decide that you’re not going to eat anymore bread, and don’t. Don’t buy it, don’t make it. You can make the choice and you have the power to stick to it.

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