All Purpose Flour vs Whole Wheat Flour: (Nutrition Comparison)

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All purpose flour is just white flour where the bran and germ of whole wheat has been removed.

While this results in dough that is easier to work with in some cases, and typically tastes better, you also lose some of the nutrition that’s in wheat.

Is it worth the tradeoff?

Let’s do a side-by-side comparison of the nutrition data for both all purpose and whole wheat flour to find out.

Nutritional Value Comparison of All Purpose Flour and Whole Wheat Flour

We’ll start with the macronutrient profiles for both types of flour.

This data comes from the USDA and is per 100 gram serving.

  All Purpose Flour Whole Wheat Flour
Energy (kcal) 364 340
Protein (g) 10.3 13.2
Total Lipid (g) 1.0 2.5
Carbohydrate (g) 76.3 72.0
Fiber (g) 2.7 10.7
Sugars (g) 0.3 0.4

Despite having about the same amount of calories and carbohydrates, whole wheat flour has significantly more:

  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Fiber

In general, having more protein and fiber makes a food more healthy in the context of modern diets.

Vitamins and Minerals in All Purpose Flour vs Whole Wheat Flour

We also need to look at the micronutrients in these flours and see if either is particularly nutritious.

There’s a column for the recommended amount per day (RDA) of each for an adult. Your exact RDA may vary based on your age and gender, but this gives us a general value to sort the data by.

  RDA All Purpose Flour Whole Wheat Flour
Manganese (mg) 2.3 0.7 4.1
Selenium (µg) 55 33.9 61.8
Phosphorus (mg) 700 108.0 357.0
Thiamin (mg) 1.2 0.1 0.5
Magnesium (mg) 400 22.0 137.0
Niacin (mg) 16 1.3 5.0
Vitamin B-6 (mg) 1.3 0.0 0.4
Zinc (mg) 11 0.7 2.6
Iron (mg) 18 1.2 3.6
Potassium (mg) 2000 107.0 363.0
Riboflavin (mg) 1.3 0.0 0.2
Folate (µg) 400 26.0 44.0
Choline (mg) 550 10.4 31.2
Vitamin E (mg) 15 0.1 0.7
Calcium (mg) 1200 15.0 34.0
Vitamin K (µg) 75 0.3 1.9
Sodium (mg) 1500 2.0 2.0
Copper (mg) 900 0.1 0.4
Vitamin C (mg) 90 0.0 0.0
Vitamin B-12 (µg) 2.4 0.0 0.0
Vitamin A (µg) 900 0.0 0.0
Vitamin D (µg) 15 0.0 0.0

Whole wheat flour has a significantly higher level of almost every vitamin and mineral. It turns out that most of the nutrition in wheat is stored in the germ and bran.

In addition, whole wheat flour is actually fairly nutritious, having a large portion of the RDA for several vitamins and minerals.

All Purpose Flour vs Whole Wheat Flour: Which is Healthier?

It’s very clear that whole wheat flour is significantly healthier than all purpose flour, and it’s really hard to argue the opposing viewpoint.

Whole wheat flour has more protein and fiber, while also offering way more in the way of vitamins and minerals.

White vs whole wheat flour is one of the clearest examples of why processing foods and removing parts of them can result in a worse outcome.

One final note is that the data we looked at was for unenriched flour. In reality, many flours are fortified with vitamins and minerals so some all purpose flours at least offer more nutrients. It does seem a bit silly to remove the nutrients and then add some back, but the difference in taste may be worth it.

Is All Purpose Flour or Whole Wheat Flour Better for Bodybuilding?

When it comes to building muscle, it’s not clear whether whole wheat or all purpose flour is the better choice.

They have a similar amount of calories, but whole wheat flour has about 30% more protein, which may make it the best choice for bodybuilding for those trying to get more protein.

However, whole wheat flour is also much higher in fiber, so all purpose flour is less filling. For someone struggling to eat enough calories, it may be the best choice.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. I've spent over 6 years as a freelance nutrition writer and researcher. During this time, I've tested over 50 vegan protein powders, and over 100 other types of vegan supplements.