If you’ve looked at a package of Enlightened ready-to-bake cookies or sugar-free cones, you may have noticed that high-fiber wheat flour tops the ingredient list. How is high-fiber wheat flour different from white refined flour, and how can an ingredient made from wheat contribute so few net carbs? Let’s see if we can sift through the data and get some answers.
High-fiber wheat flour vs. regular wheat flour
Most wheat is grown today with one priority in mind: maximizing yield. The varieties of wheat that produce the biggest crop per acre, though, aren’t necessarily the most nutritious. Bay State Milling, the makers of HealthSense high-fiber wheat flour, take a different approach, prioritizing varieties of wheat with better nutrition.
What sets one variety of wheat apart from others nutritionally? To look at the differences, it’s helpful to remember that the edible part of wheat is a seed. White refined flour is made by removing bran (the hard outer layer) and grinding the endosperm (the part of the seed that functions as food storage for the plant as it grows).
The non-GMO wheat that HealthSense uses has naturally high levels of fiber in the endosperm. When the bran is removed, you’re left with flour that has the same texture and taste as white refined flour, but with 10 times the amount of fiber.
Fiber and the American diet
If you’re reading this, the odds are that you’re not getting enough fiber in your diet. The USDA recommends 25 grams of fiber a day for women and 38 grams a day for men, and only about 5% of Americans reach these goals.
Adding fiber to your diet doesn’t just help keep your gut healthy and regular. A diet high in fiber also lowers cholesterol levels, helps control blood sugar, and may reduce the risk of colon cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Is high-fiber wheat flour keto-friendly?
If you’ve ever tried a low-carb or keto diet, white refined flour is likely one of the first ingredients that you were told to avoid, because of its high net carb content. Does high-fiber wheat flour have the same drawbacks?
For an answer, we consulted Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, registered dietitian and the face behind @thehappiestnutritionist on Instagram. “Because it’s lower in net carbs than traditional all-purpose flour, high-fiber wheat flour could easily fit into someone’s keto or low-carbohydrate lifestyle,” Beckerman says.
Most ready-to-bake cookies you’ll find at the store are made with traditional refined white flour and contain as many as 22 grams of net carbs per serving. One Enlightened ready-to-bake cookie, made with high-fiber wheat flour, contains only 2 grams of net carbs per serving. With high-fiber wheat flour and allulose, freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies without all the net carbs are a reality.
High-fiber wheat flour and gut health
A huge amount of scientific research in recent decades has started to show the importance of gut health for overall health. “Better gut health can result in improved digestion, a stronger immune system, or even a reduction of stress,” Beckerman explains.
It sounds almost like science fiction, but your digestive system is home to a whole ecosystem of different microorganisms, the gut microbiota. High-fiber wheat flour contains a type of insoluble fiber known as resistant starch which is known for prebiotic benefits—in other words, it feeds the “good” bacteria in the gut. Pairing insoluble dietary fiber like the resistant starch in high-fiber wheat flour with soluble dietary fiber (like the soluble corn fiber in Enlightened ice cream) also contributes to the diversity of the gut microbiota.
The result? A balanced digestive system (and some very happy taste buds). Pretty impressive for an ice cream sandwich!