|Dieters should look for products that say "100% wheat."
Q: I thought I was eating healthy since I buy wheat products over enriched white flour products but was informed it is just as bad for you, is this correct?
-D. Mancuso, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
A: Unfortunately yes. Don’t be fooled There are many products that seem healthy on the front but in reality they are not. If the bread or products you are buying says “soft wheat” or “multi-grain” make sure you still read the ingredients. Most of these breads are primarily made with enriched flour. Even if the word “enriched” is not there, if it does not say “whole” then it’s the same unhealthy junk.
There is much misunderstanding about the word “enriched”. Enriched flour is flour in which most of the natural vitamins and minerals have been extracted. This is done in order to give bread a finer texture, increase shelf life and prevent bugs from eating it (bugs will die if they attempt to live off it).
Why is enriched flour bad? When the bran and the germ (the parts of the wheat that contain vitamins and minerals) are removed, your body absorbs wheat differently. Instead of being a slow, steady process through which you get steady bursts of energy, your body breaks down enriched flour too quickly, flooding the blood stream with too much sugar at once. Your body then has to work hard to absorb the excess and stores it as fat. This causes quick highs and lows in your blood-sugar level, which can lead to type-two diabetes and obesity. All this and you’re not even getting close to the amount of nutrients that whole grains contain.
By the way, just because your bread may be brown in color, doesn't necessarily mean it is whole wheat bread. Look for the ingredient name "caramel" in the list of ingredients. If it is there, your bread is dyed to a nice brown color. Don't be fooled! If the first ingredient in the ingredient list does not say "whole" wheat flour or "wholemeal", your bread is most likely made up of the enriched wheat flour or wheat flour as mentioned above. Even if it’s brown, unbleached wheat flour is still missing the bran and the germ that contain essential nutrients as well as the fiber that aids digestion.
Whole grains are richer in dietary fiber, antioxidants, protein, dietary minerals and vitamins. Health benefits by eating whole grains can reduce the risk of some forms of cancer, digestive system diseases, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Look for products that say 100% whole wheat. Buy a whole wheat bread that is made up of 5 ingredients or less. You don't need added preservatives, sugar and fats. Usually, the heavier the whole wheat bread, the better it is for you. This means that the bread has been processed less which ensures more nutritional value than those light and fluffy breads that are so easy to squish!
White bread is made with enriched flour or wheat flour (notice the lack of the word "whole"). In the process of making white flour, the bran and the germ have been removed from the whole wheat grain; the bran and the germ contain most of the nutritional value. With the bran and germ lacking from white flour, white bread is lower in fiber, zinc, thiamin, niacin, trace elements and "good fats" and oils. To top it all off, white bread is usually fortified with vitamins and minerals once they've all been removed. When foods are fortified, your body does not process the vitamins and minerals as efficiently as it would if the food was left alone to begin with.
Foods that commonly contain enriched flour are bread, pasta, chicken nuggets (breaded), pizza piecrust, crackers, cake, cookies, brownies, pretzels, and donuts.
Bottom line, save the white bread for the ducks!
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