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:
- Pie crust
- Chicken nuggets -breaded
Do you avoid foods with enriched flour? What ways have you found to keep it out of your diet?
Photo credit: dogwelder