What’s in Your Food? Enriched Flour Tops List of Unhealthy Ingredients

I was never one to read food labels; I guess I figured “out of sight, out of mind.” That was one of several reasons I found it difficult to conquer my obesity for over two decades. I didn’t really want to know what ingredients were in my favorite foods — if they tasted good, then I ate them. When someone tried to inform me of all the unhealthy ingredients in pizza, pasta or chicken nuggets, I just ignored their warnings. I figured it was just their way of trying to get me to stop eating “real food” and settle for a simple lettuce salad instead so I would lose some weight.

Now I realize these people were correct about the unhealthy ingredients that were in my preferred dinner foods… not to mention all the other food items I consumed on a daily basis.

You may be consuming some of the same unhealthy ingredients and not even realize it. Take a moment to read the ingredients of your favorite bread. Chances are the first ingredient is going to be enriched wheat flour. Do you know what “enriched” means? Neither did I.

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 and increase shelf life.

When the bran and the germ (the parts of the wheat that contain fiber and nutrients) are removed, your body absorbs wheat differently. Instead of being a slow process that gives you steady bursts of energy, your body breaks down enriched flour more quickly, which typically raises blood sugar more quickly as well. This excess blood sugar has to be metabolized by the liver, and if there’s an excess of sugar, your body will store some of it as fat.

Read that again: your body STORES IT AS FAT. All this and you’re not even getting close to the amount of nutrients that whole grains contain.

In other words, enriched flour sounds healthy but isn’t so healthy after all.

Okay, so what ingredient should you be looking for in your bread? Whole wheat flour or whole grain flour should be the first ingredient on the label of your bread because they are richer in dietary fiber, antioxidants, protein, dietary minerals — which includes magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and selenium — along with niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin E. By eating whole grains you reduce the risk of certain cancers, coronary heart disease, digestive system diseases, diabetes and obesity.

I now read food labels and have found that there are many products that seem healthy at first, but in reality they are not. If the label on your favorite bread includes the words “soft wheat” or “multigrain,” make sure you still read the ingredients because the majority of these breads are mostly made with enriched flour. Even if the word “enriched” is not there, if it doesn’t say “whole,” then it’s the same stuff.

Also remember that even if the bread color is brown and has a very healthy appearance, unbleached wheat flour is still missing the bran and the germ that contain essential nutrients and fiber.

My suggestion? Try to look for food products that say 100 percent whole wheat or whole grain … the healthy stuff!

Below are the food items that commonly contain enriched flour:

  • Bread
  • Cake
  • Cookies
  • Brownies
  • Pretzels
  • Donuts
  • Pie crust
  • Crackers
  • Pasta
  • Chicken nuggets -breaded
  • Pizza

Do you avoid foods with enriched flour? What ways have you found to keep it out of your diet?

Photo credit: dogwelder

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  1. Also remember that the ” Enriched ” means that they are using cheep man made Synthetic Vitamins. And they only stimulate your cells, they do Not feed your cells as the Live Natural Vitamins from live plants do. Next look to see if there is any ( wheat gluten), or ( High Fructose corn syrup), or ( Monoglycerides), or Calcium propionate = a men made ” preservative” or calcium sulfate, or DATEM, etc. all of them do Not belong in the Human Body.

  2. The more you read, the more confusing it becomes. There are positives and negatives to all foods, especially in this day and age of additives, shelf life, allergies, etc. Starting with, avoiding enriched wheat flour, Aspertaime, and hydrogenated oils, to start with, keeps it easy to start with setting the goal of good nutrition.Naturally, avoid soda, sugar laden products, and high salt items, is a no brainer. Your article starting with the foods that contain enriched flour is must reading and informative. I will pass along the info. to friends and family. Thanks again and best to you and yours.

  3. IN YOUR , basically thing white except c/flower — you did not mention— breakfast cereals— 99% are make with —- enriched whole wheat flour— your main article====

  4. Wow… I am informed and heartbroken at the same time. I discovered this article because my stomach was turning after eating Cheez Its and I’m 90% sure it’s because of the enriched flour. Thank you for pulling me out of the chasm of my ignorance. I am off to read food labels now…

  5. With that said the issue I have with whole wheat whole grain are the mineral binding phytates, so your body wont be able to absorb most of the nutrients anyways. I used to eat a lot of whole grains (oats, brown rice) and now I’m dealing with some digestive/malabsorption issues and cutting out whole grains has helped me out. I’m not saying enriched foods are a solution but whole grains aren’t much better if at all.

  6. Forget and enriched white flour the problem has more to do with the fact that they add minerals to white flower ,there is nothing wrong with white flower so why add Folic acid and iron?
    France and Italy do not add anything to their flour and their bread are the best!
    Read more about folic acid……..

  7. I actually have a genetic disorder (MTHFR) that led to me cutting out added man-made folic acid (in enriched flour). According to my doctor, it could lead to cancer, fertility issues, diabetes, and several different mental illness- two of which I already struggle with. It was crazy seeing how all of those symptoms run in my family–all of which refuse to get their blood tested for the disorder. So now it’s been two years of avoiding enriched flour (although there have been a few times where I assumed incorrectly and ate some- which led to headaches), my weight is down and I am much more mentally healthy and off of medications. I love seeing more people realize how much better less (or purer) grains are for us.

    1. Amelia, I have the same genetic mutation and am just trying to navigate all these food labels to make sure I’m not getting any folic acid in it’s unnatural form. Have you found any favorite “safe” food items that you love? I was trying to go gluten free but then realized I’m really trying to eliminate folic acid not necessarily gluten. Is this your understanding too?

      1. Hi Mindy,

        Thanks for your question. If you have MTHFR, any grain product that is enriched or fortified has folic acid in it and that needs to be avoided with your condition. To confirm, if you have MTHFR you do not have to maintain a gluten-free diet and lifestyle, but you have to refrain from consuming folic acid.

        Hope this helps. We’d recommend speaking to your doctor if you have any further questions about the condition.

        In good health,


  8. Interesting article, I agree that enriched foods are not doing are bodies any favors but you failed to point out the fact that “whole grain/whole wheat” contains anti nutrients like lectins and phytates. I generally look for organic refined grains and wheat foods since they are unenriched and don’t contain anti-nutrients.

  9. It has taken me some time to determine that ENRICHED was the culprit in the bread and other wheat products that was causing me issues. Horrible issues. The overt one is itch. With that being obvious, I cannot help but wonder what other negative effects it is doing to my body.

  10. Title to the article is misleading. I thought it would be discussing why enrichment in food is bad instead its just discussing that refined foods are unhealthy. With that said whole grain and refined foods have advantages and disadvantages. To name a few whole wheat has a lot of phytates (anti-nutrient) and polyfats and refined doesn’t.

  11. I DO NOT understand why the US and Israel add bromide to anything! Bromine is very bad for us. I have researched the problems with bromine. I just do not get it. Two of my grandchildren MUST be gluten free. OK, I did that (rid gluten) and now I am dealing with bromide.
    I know that I am drifting off of the enriched problem, but I am a very frustrated grandmother. Oh help!

  12. I agree with what was said in the article and I would like to further expand on this topic. “Refined” is another critical food word. Generally, refined means elegant and cultured in appearance, manner or taste, or with impurities removed. That is what food companies have been calling a specific type of flour, which after being processed is left without fiber, oils, iron, and vitamins that make wheat nutritious. It is called refined, yet in reality that is not refined, but rather “deprived.” And after that process, a dilemma arises. Because it has been deprived of microelements, we must add them back, enrich it. The word “enrich” has positive connotations, a synonym to fortified, improved. To make rich, to make strong. Food companies added the iron they took out during the refining process, but not enough of what we need. They may add it back and enrich it but it will never be the exact amount our organism needs naturally. Refined flour is the cause of vitamin B and iron shortage in our body. So, food companies add vitamins and iron to supply that shortage and call enriched and fortified flour. But they cannot add all the microelements and nutrients that is being taken away from the refinement process. We don’t know how those additions will affect our metabolism in the long run. So far, we have noticed an increase in diabetes and metabolic syndrome. We will be healthy if we eat nutritious food. To enhance the inborn health we possess, we should start eating nutritious food and do not get distracted and allured with suspicious, misleading words and ads such as refined or enriched flours.

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