How Is Semolina Different From Flour, and Is It Healthier? (2024)

  • What Is
    • What is semolina?
  • Nutrition
    • Semolina nutrition compared to other flour
  • Benefits
    • Benefits of semolina flour over other flour
  • Semolina vs Other Flours
    • The takeaway
  • Comments
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What is semolina?

How Is Semolina Different From Flour, and Is It Healthier? (1)

Semolina is a coarse flour that is made from the milling process of durum wheat. Semolina has more nutrients than all-purpose flour and it may support weight loss and heart health.

Whether you're a cook at a five-star restaurant or a chef in your home kitchen, chances are that you have a list of staple items in your refrigerator or pantry. Staple items in the kitchen are the essential ingredients you have on hand that are consistently used for several dishes. Flour is often considered a key ingredient, as it serves as a foundation for several dishes and provides a level of gluten that creates strength and elasticity in baked goods. With several different flour options being offered, you may be wondering which option is best for you, whether from a nutritional standpoint or based on the various uses of each type of flour. Semolina is one of the several alternative options to regular white flour and, like other flour, comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Flour is made by grinding down whole or polished wheat kernels. Whole wheat grains and flour include bran, germ, and endosperm. These three parts of the kernel can be separated and recombined at varying ratios to create different types of flour, including white, all-purpose, self-rising, gluten, and many more.

There are six different types of wheat grown in the U.S., including hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, soft white, hard white, and durum.

Semolina is a coarse flour that is made from the milling process of durum wheat, which is a hard species of wheat often preferred for use in dishes like pasta, couscous, and bread. Durum wheat, when grown properly, is hard and has an amber-colored endosperm. In milling, the durum wheat is broken down, creating a high yield of pale-yellow semolina that is granular and uniform.

Semolina nutrition compared to other flour

Many foods that have to go through a process, like milling, before they can be further used are likely to be at risk of losing essential nutrients. Semolina, like other flour, often comes enriched, which means that micronutrients that were lost in the milling process were added back in. When 100 grams of semolina is enriched, the key nutrients it provides include:

  • Calories: 360
  • Carbs: 72.83g (26% of recommended daily values)
  • Protein: 12.68g (25% of RDV))
  • Fat: 1.05g (1% of RDV)
  • Fiber: 3.90g (14% of RDV)
  • Iron:4.36mg (24% of RDV)
  • Folate:261mcg (65% of RDV)

To draw a comparison, all-purpose flour, which is also enriched, provides the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 366
  • Carbs: 77.30g (28% of recommended daily values)
  • Protein: 10.90g (22% of RDV))
  • Fat: 1.48g (2% of RDV)
  • Iron:5.62mg (31% of RDV)

In looking at the two nutrient fact sheets, you can see that semolina contains more essential nutrients that a person's diet should include, like fiber and folate, than is seen with all-purpose flour. In a more detailed nutrient breakdown of the two compared flours, it can also be seen that semolina provides the following nutrients that are not found in all-purpose flour:

  • pantothenic acid
  • vitamin E
  • histidine
  • isoleucine
  • leucine
  • threonine
  • tryptophan
  • valine

Benefits of semolina flour over other flour

In looking at the nutrient facts of semolina flour, it's easy to see that there are several health benefits, including:

May promote weight loss

A high-protein diet is a way to promote weight loss, and semolina's almost 13 grams of protein per 100g is an excellent place to start. Studies have shown that a high-protein diet is linked to weight loss because it increases satiety hormones that cause you to feel full longer, reduces orexigenic hormone secretion that lowers your overall appetite, and improves glucose homeostasis, which determines the composition of your diet.

A high-fiber diet has also been linked to weight loss, with one study showing that, in 252 women, when there was an increase of 1g of dietary fiber per day, it correlated with the loss of 0.5lbs over 20 months. Unlike other nutrients that break down in your body, fiber travels through undigested, helps you feel full for longer, and regulates blood sugar.

Although promoting weight loss is a good enough benefit that comes with eating semolina, Keep in mind that maintaining a healthy weight also helps prevent heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and other serious conditions. There are many different types of flour, and some may have similar levels of nutrients to semolina. However, semolina is noted for its relatively low calorie, high protein, and high fiber characteristics, making it ideal for a diet with the end goal of losing or maintaining weight.

High in folate

Folate, a B vitamin also known as folic acid, is an essential nutrient most often linked to the benefits it offers pregnant women and their babies. However, it comes with other notable benefits, such as the reduced risk of certain cancers, reduced risk of heart disease, and energy production. Although other flours can be and are typically fortified with folate, semolina stands out due to its naturally occurring folate levels.

Source of iron and magnesium

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, making it a crucial part of your diet. Iron plays many roles in the body, including transferring oxygen from the lungs to the tissue, supporting metabolism, aiding in growth and development, helping your immune system, and DNA synthesis.

Low magnesium levels can be detrimental to a person's health, as a magnesium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, high blood pressure, clogged arteries, hereditary heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Magnesium is a great way to aid in overall health, as it regulates blood pressure, keeps your bones strong, can help regulate blood sugar levels, and supports heart health.

Supports heart health

Fiber is said to support heart health because of its ability to help regulate your blood sugar and cholesterol levels. In the U.S., a product is considered a "good source of fiber" when it contains at least 10% of the recommended daily amount. Semolina flour, containing 14% of the RDA, is considered a good source of fiber and can aid in supporting heart health. Along with fiber, it also includes a level of folate and magnesium, which also help in overall heart health.

The takeaway

Semolina is a flour that is made through the milling process of durum wheat. It's coarse compared to regular flour and is most often used for dishes like pasta, couscous, and bread. Compared to other flour types, semolina comes with health benefits that make it a great alternative to other, less nutrient flours. When identifying if semolina is healthier than other flours, keep in mind that each flour serves a specific purpose and may contain health benefits that are important to your current health goals. Semolina is a great flour to consider if you are wanting to aid in weight loss, heart health, and avoidance of specific deficiencies. However, its coarse granular characteristics may limit your use of this flour.

SLIDESHOW Foods That Aren't as Healthy as You Think See Slideshow

Medically Reviewed on 11/3/2022

References

Sources:

Amy Myers MD: "10 Essential Nutrients For Heart Health"

Encyclopedia of Food Grains (Second Edition): "Durum Wheat Milling"

FSI: "Flour"

Harvard Health Publishing: "Eat more fiber-rich foods to foster heart health", "Making one change — getting more fiber — can help with weight loss", "The effect of fiber on satiety and food intake: a systematic review"

Lockhart & Wiseman’s Crop Husbandry Including Grassland: "13.10.1 Qualities of durum wheat"

MassInititative: "What is the role of a flour ingredient?"

NIH: "The importance of folic acid", "Increasing total fiber intake reduces risk of weight and fat gains in women"

Nutrition and Functional Foods for Healthy Aging: "Chapter 14 - Vitamins and Minerals in Older Adults: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Deficiency"

Nutrition Value: "Compare nutritional values", "Flour, bleached, enriched, all-purpose, wheat", "Semolina, enriched"

PennState Extention: "Storing Staple Ingredients in the Kitchen"

PLOS One: "The Prevalence of Anemia and Moderate-Severe Anemia in the US Population"

U.S. Wheat Associates: "Wheat Classes"

How Is Semolina Different From Flour, and Is It Healthier? (2024)

References

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