A Slice Of Nutrition Advice On Wheat
(ARA) – ‘White or wheat?’ Restaurant patrons are often presented with this familiar, yet inaccurate, question when ordering toast or a sandwich. Given the confusion between whole and enriched grain products, it’s not surprising that this phrase is universally accepted among the general public. The truth is, whole (wheat) and enriched (white) wheat bread are both wheat-based products and part of a healthy diet.
To help families make informed decisions about the foods they eat — specifically wheat foods –, the Wheat Foods Council offers some insight into the wide world of wheat.
- It’s all in the milling process: It’s during the milling process, where the kernel is removed from the wheat plant and transformed into flour, that wheat either becomes whole or enriched flour. During milling, all three parts of the kernel — the bran, germ and the endosperm — are separated.
When milling whole wheat flour, the three parts of the kernel are ‘reconstituted,’ or blended back together in their original proportions.
- White flour is not ‘bad’ for you: Foods made from white or enriched wheat flour are often hit hard with negative attention. It’s important, however, to understand that there are nutritional benefits to both enriched and whole grain products. Enriched wheat products are made with only one part of the kernel — the endosperm. Iron and four B-vitamins are added in amounts equal to or exceeding that in whole wheat flour, depending on the product.
Enriched wheat products have more than twice the amount of folic acid as whole wheat — which is good for pregnant women to help prevent birth or neural tube defects.
- Learn about labels: When looking to identify whole or enriched wheat products, read carefully. Often, people think the word ‘wheat’ is interchangeable with the words ‘whole wheat’ or ‘whole grain’ and it’s not. Just because bread or pasta products are labeled ‘wheat’ does not make them whole-grain foods.
To correctly identify whole grain foods, make sure the first item listed in the ingredient list is referred to as ‘whole’ such as whole-wheat flour or whole-oat flour.
And when it comes to wheat foods, bread is only the beginning. Wheat can be enjoyed in the form of cereal, crackers, tortillas, pasta, cake, bagels, pitas and more. To learn more about how the wheat plant transforms into nutritious meals and snack staples, visit www.HowWheatWorks.com. This program enables people of all ages to experience the farm-to-fork journey of America’s most-consumed grain. For each participant, the Council will donate two pounds of flour to Operation Homefront, a non-profit that provides assistance to needy U.S. troops and their families.