March 03, 2015

03/03/2015: Which is healthier - enriched white or whole grain?

Enriched white pastas and breads, or whole grain ones – which are better for you?

Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian writing for The Global Mail, explains.


White bread and white pasta are enriched with vitamins and minerals but their whole-grain counterparts are not. Which is a better source of nutrients then, white or whole grain? I am concerned, too, about folic acid.


In Canada, manufacturers are required by law to add three B vitamins – thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) – as well as iron to white flour to replace what is lost during milling. But that doesn’t mean that “enriched” white bread and “enriched” white pasta are better sources of these nutrients than whole-wheat versions. It’s a different story, however, for folic acid.

When whole grains are milled, scraped and refined to remove the outer bran layer and the germ layer that’s rich in vitamins and minerals, all that’s left is the nutrient-poor starchy endosperm. The purpose of enrichment is to bring white flour back to the nutritional level of whole-wheat flour – at least when it comes to thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and iron. Refining removes more than these four nutrients. It also strips out fibre, vitamin B6, bone-building vitamin K and free-radical-fighting vitamin E. A long list of minerals gets discarded, too. Whole grains have significantly more magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, selenium and manganese than their refined counterparts. They also retain more antioxidants and protective phytochemicals.

These nutrient casualties aren’t replaced. So, despite the fact that 100-per-cent whole-grain breads and pastas are not enriched, they outrank (by a long shot) white bread and white pasta when it comes to most nutrients. One exception, though, is folic acid.

Read more HERE

Visit Leslie Beck's website HERE

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