When was the last time you read the ingredients list on a loaf of bread, bakery good or any packaged item? If you did, you would have noticed words such as enriched, bleached, refined etc.
Refined flour: Most bakery items including bread, cakes, bagels use fine flour that make cakes and breads fluffier. The processing of whole grains to make into flour is called the milling process. This process takes away most essential nutrients from the whole grains leaving the flour that is devoid of nutrients. This is the refined flour.
Enriched flour: To compensate for this loss, the floor manufacturers add iron and B vitamins to milled flour and it is labelled as enriched.
Buyers beware: By no means is this flour close to its original grain when it comes to nutrients. The enriched flour is the most commonly eaten food that is responsible for acute increase in blood glucose levels thereby leading to insulin spike in children’s bodies. Whole grain flour, on the other hand, helps with the slow release of insulin in the body.
Bleached flour: Milled flour is natural form is yellowish due to presence of xanthophyll. Bleaching the flour removes xanthophyll and makes it white and more suitable for bakery needs. Bleached flour is treated with chemical agents to speed up the aging process of the flour. Bleaching can be done by chlorine gas or benzoyl peroxide.
Good to know:
Here is anatomy of a whole grain and why it is essential that they be eaten closest to its whole form in food instead of bleached, refined or enriched.
Whole Grains are made up of three nutritious parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. The bran is the outer layer of the grain and is a rich source of fiber, B vitamins, and minerals.
The germ is the central core of the grain. This is also seed of the grain that has the capability of sprouting into a new plant and it is full of healthy nutrients. The germ of the whole grain contains antioxidants, vitamin E, more B vitamins, minerals zinc and magnesium, along with some proteins and natural healthy fats.
The endosperm is the starchy part of the grain and is also the energy source. This is where the carbohydrates and most of the proteins of the grain reside.
The whole grains from which all kinds of flour is made are essentially packed with nutrients. When the grains are converted to flour through the modern milling process, most of these valuable minerals are lost.
Milling process typically strips off the bran and the germ part of the grain.
For best health benefits, choose whole wheat flour bakery food instead of enriched or bleached flour bread. Pick bagels or bread that have whole grains and grain seeds in them. Given that bread is one of the main foods in most households, switching to healthier bread is a very good start.
Best grains to add to diet:
Whole grains, spelt, millet, Quinoa, Buckwheat, kamut.