What’s the Difference Between Bleached and Unbleached Flour?
By Rachael Link, MS, RD
Many types of flour are commonly available on the shelves of your local supermarket.
However, most types can be split into two categories — bleached and unbleached.
While most people prefer one or the other, many are unsure exactly what factors set the two apart.
This article tells you everything you need to know about bleached and unbleached flour, including their differences, safety, and uses.
Differences Between Bleached and Unbleached Flour
Bleached and unbleached flour differ in certain ways, including processing, taste, texture, and appearance.
One of the most notable differences between bleached and unbleached flour is the way that they're processed.
Bleached flour is typically refined, meaning that the nutrient-rich bran and germ of the wheat kernel have been removed, stripping the grain of many of its valuable vitamins and minerals and leaving only the endosperm.
Unbleached flour can include any type of flour, which may or may not be refined.
Both types are then milled, which is a process that involves grinding grains, such as wheat, into a fine powder.
Next, bleached flour is treated with chemical agents like benzoyl peroxide, potassium bromate, or chlorine, which helps speed up the aging of the flour. Flour is aged to improve certain qualities for baking.
This chemical process significantly changes the taste, texture, and appearance of the final product, as well as its nutritional profile and potential uses in baking.
On the other hand, unbleached flour is aged naturally after the milling process is completed. Natural aging takes significantly longer than the bleaching process, which is why bleached flour was created.
Unbleached flour is used in certain recipes due to its distinct texture.
Both varieties are sometimes enriched, which is the process of adding certain nutrients back into the flour (1Trusted Source).
The bleaching process produces many changes in the taste, texture, and appearance of flour.
The chemicals used to speed up the aging process in bleached flour cause it to have a whiter color, finer grain, and softer texture.
Conversely, unbleached flour has a denser grain and tougher texture.
It also tends to have an off-white color, which fades naturally as it ages.
Though there are minimal differences in taste between the two varieties, people with a very sensitive palate may notice a slightly bitter taste in bleached flour.
Bleached flour has a whiter color, finer grain, and softer texture, while unbleached flour has a denser grain and tougher texture. Bleached flour is treated with chemical agents to speed up the aging process.
The nutritional values of bleached and unbleached white flour are nearly identical.
Both varieties contain the same number of calories and amounts of protein, fat, carbs, and fiber per cup (125 grams).
However, unbleached, unrefined, whole-wheat varieties may be richer in several important nutrients.
In particular, whole-wheat flour packs more fiber, vitamin E, manganese, copper, and antioxidants (4Trusted Source).
Both bleached and unbleached flours are also often enriched with B vitamins like folate, niacin, vitamin B6, and thiamine (1Trusted Source).
Bleached and unbleached white flours are nearly identical in terms of nutrition. Other varieties of unbleached flour, such as whole-wheat flour, may contain more fiber, vitamin E, manganese, copper, and antioxidants.
Bleached flour is treated with several chemical agents to help speed up the aging process.
The safety of these chemicals has often been called into question.
For example, potassium bromate, which is a common additive used in bread-making, has been linked to kidney damage and cancer in some animal studies (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
Though it's illegal in the European Union, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, and Nigeria, it remains legal and widely used in the United States.
Benzoyl peroxide is another common food additive that is generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (9).
Keep in mind that most current research is limited to animal and test-tube studies using very high doses of these chemical compounds.
Therefore, more studies in humans are needed to evaluate the safety of bleached flour when consumed in normal amounts.
Some chemical compounds in bleached flour have been linked to adverse effects in animal and test-tube studies. More research in humans is needed to evaluate the safety of these bleaching agents.
Due to their variations in texture, each type of flour may be better-suited for certain recipes.
Bleached flour has a finer grain and absorbs more liquid, which works well for foods like cookies, pancakes, waffles, quick breads, and pie crusts.
Meanwhile, the denser texture of unbleached flour can help baked goods hold their shape a bit better, making it a good fit for puff pastries, eclairs, yeast breads, and popovers.
That said, both types can be used interchangeably in most baked goods without significantly altering the final product or needing to adjust other ingredients in your recipe.
Bleached flour works well in recipes like cookies, pancakes, waffles, quick breads, and pie crusts. Meanwhile, unbleached flour is better suited for puff pastries, eclairs, yeast breads, and popovers.
The Bottom Line
Bleached flour is treated with chemicals to speed up the aging process, whereas unbleached flour is aged naturally.
Both types also differ in texture, appearance, and potential uses.
Opting for unbleached, whole-wheat flour may increase your intake of several nutrients and minimize your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.
Still, both varieties can be used interchangeably in most recipes without significantly altering the final product.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.
How to Rock Your Walk<p>Walking isn't just fun and healthy. It's accessible.</p><p>"Walking is cheap," says Dr. John Paul H. Rue, a sports medicine doctor at <a href="https://mdmercy.com/" target="_blank">Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore</a>. "You can do it anywhere at any time; [it] requires little to no special equipment and has many of the same cardio benefits as running or other more intense workouts."</p><p>Want to up your walking game? Try the tips below.</p>
Use Hand Weights<p>Cardio and strength training can go hand-in-hand when you add weights to your walk.</p><p>A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2019/03000/Associations_of_Resistance_Exercise_with.14.aspx" target="_blank">2019 study</a> found that weight training is good for your heart, and <a href="https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(17)30167-2/abstract" target="_blank">research</a> shows it reduces the risk of developing a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/nutrition-metabolism-disorders" target="_blank">metabolic disorder</a> by 17 percent. People with metabolic disorders have a higher chance of being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.</p><p>Rue suggests not carrying weights for your entire walk.</p><p>"Hand weights can give you an added level of energy burning, but you have to be careful with these because carrying [them] over a long period of time or while walking could actually lead to some overuse injuries," he says.</p>
Make It a Circuit<p>As another option, consider doing a circuit. First, put a pair of dumbbells on your lawn or somewhere in your home. Walk around the block once, then stop and do some bicep curls and tricep lifts before walking around the block again.</p><p>Rue recommends <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/running-with-weights" target="_blank">avoiding ankle weights</a> during cardio workouts, as they force you to use your quadriceps rather than hamstrings. They can also cause muscle imbalance, according to the <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/wearable-weights-how-they-can-help-or-hurt" target="_blank">Harvard Health Letter</a>.</p>
Find a Fitness Trail<p>Strength training isn't limited to weights. You can get stronger by <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/bodyweight-workout" target="_blank">simply using your body</a>.</p><p>Often found at parks, fitness trails are obstacle courses with equipment for pullups, pushups, rowing, and stretches to build upper and lower body strength.</p><p>Try searching "fitness trails near me" online, checking out your local parks and recreation website, or calling the municipal office to <a href="https://calisthenics-parks.com/" target="_blank">find one</a>.</p>
Recruit a Friend<p>People who workout together stay healthy together.</p><p><a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-017-0584-3" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that older adults who exercised with a group improved or maintained their functional health and enjoyed their lives more.</p><p>Enlist the help of a walking buddy with a regimen you aspire to have. If you don't know anyone in your area, apps like <a href="https://www.strava.com/" target="_blank">Strava</a> have social networking features so you can get support from fellow exercisers.</p>
Try Meditation<p>According to the <a href="https://www.nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/nhis/2017" target="_blank">2017 National Health Interview Survey</a>, published by the National Institutes of Health, meditation is on the rise, and for good reason.</p><p>Researchers <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29616846/" target="_blank">found</a> that mind-body relaxation practices can regulate inflammation, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/biological-rhythms" target="_blank">circadian rhythms</a>, and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/glucose" target="_blank">glucose</a> metabolism, as well as lower <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension" target="_blank">blood pressure</a>.</p><p>"Any form of exercise can be turned into a meditation of some type, either by the surroundings you are walking in, like a park or trail, or by blocking out the outside world with music on your headphones," Rue says.</p><p>You can also play a podcast or download an app like <a href="https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app" target="_blank">Headspace</a> that has a library of guided meditations to practice while you walk.</p>
Do Fartlek Walks<p>Typically used in running, fartlek intervals alternate periods of increased and decreased speed. These are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit" target="_blank">high-intensity interval training (HIIT)</a> workouts, which allow exercisers to accomplish more in less time.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that 10-minute interval training improved <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolic-syndrome" target="_blank">cardiometabolic</a> health, or lowered the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, just as well as working out at a continuous pace for 50 minutes.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111489" target="_blank">Research</a> also shows that HIIT workouts increase muscle <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-twitch-muscles" target="_blank">oxidative</a> capacity, or the ability to use oxygen. To do a fartlek walk, try walking at an increased pace for 3 minutes, slow down for 2 minutes, and repeat.</p>
Gradually Increase Pace<p>A faster walking pace is associated with a lower risk of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/copd" target="_blank">chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)</a> and respiratory diseases, according to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30303933/" target="_blank">2019 study</a>.</p><p>Still, it's best not to go from a stroll to an Olympic-worthy power walk in a day. Instead, increase your pace gradually to prevent injury.</p><p>"Start by walking at a brisk pace for about 10 minutes per day, 3 to 5 days per week," Rue says. "Once you've done this for a few weeks, increase your time by 5 to 10 minutes per day until you get to 30 minutes."</p>
Add Stairs<p>You've likely heard that taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a way to add more movement into your daily routine. It's also a way to step up your walking. Stair climbing has been shown to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335519301123?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">decrease the risk of mortality</a> and can easily add a bit more challenge to your walk.</p><p>If you don't have stairs in your home, you can often find them outside a local municipal building, train station, or at a high school stadium.</p>
Is Your Walk a True Cardio Workout?<p>Not all walks are equal. A walk that's too leisurely may not provide enough burn to qualify as cardio. To see if you're getting a good workout, try to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-check-heart-rate" target="_blank">measure your heart rate</a> using a monitor.</p><p>"A target goal for a good walking workout heart rate is about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate," Rue says, adding that maximum heart rate is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/fat-burning-heart-rate" target="_blank">typically calculated</a> by 220 beats per minute minus your age.</p><p>You can also monitor how easily you can carry on a conversation while you walk to gauge your heart rate.</p><p>"If you can walk and carry on a normal conversation, that's probably a lower intensity walk," says Rue. "If you are slightly breathless but can still have a conversation, that's probably a moderate workout. If you are out of breath and can't talk normally, that's a vigorous workout."</p>
Takeaway<p>By shaking up your routine, you can add excitement to your workout and reap even more rewards than a basic walk provides. Increasing the pace and intensity of a workout will make it more effective.</p><p>Simply pick your favorite variation to add some spice to your next walk.</p>
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