Medical Uses and/or Benefits of Flour
A lower risk of some kinds of cancer. In 1998, scientists at Wayne State
University in Detroit conducted a meta-analysis of data from more than 30
well-designed animal studies measuring the anti-cancer effects of wheat
bran, the part of grain with highest amount of the insoluble dietary
fibers cellulose and lignin. They found a 32 percent reduction in the risk
of colon cancer among animals fed wheat bran; now they plan to conduct a
similar meta-analysis of human studies. Whole wheat flours are a good
source of wheat bran. NOTE: The amount of fiber per serving listed on a
food package label shows the total amount of fiber (insoluble and
Early in 1999, however, new data from the long-running Nurses Health Study
at Brigham Women's Hospital/Harvard University School of Public Health
showed that women who ate a high-fiber diet had a risk of colon cancer
similar to that of women who ate a low-fiber diet. Because this study
contradicts literally hundreds of others conducted over the past 30 years,
researchers are awaiting confirming evidence before changing dietary
Adverse Effects Associated with Flour
Allergic reactions. According to the Merck Manual, wheat is one of the
foods most commonly implicated as a cause of allergic upset stomach,
hives, and angioedema (swollen lips and eyes).
Gluten intolerance (celiac disease). Celiac disease is an intestinal
allergic disorder that makes it impossible to digest gluten and gliadin
(proteins found in wheat and some other grains). Corn flour, potato flour,
rice flour, and soy flour are all gluten- and gliadin-free.
Ergot poisoning. Rye and some kinds of wheat
will support ergot, a parasitic fungus related to lysergic acid (LSD).
Because commercial flours are routinely checked for ergot contamination,
there has not been a major outbreak of ergot poisoning from bread since a
1951 incident in France. Since baking does not destroy ergot toxins, the
safest course is to avoid moldy flour altogether.
Types of Flour
and Cooking with Flour