Enriched flours are unhealthy, here’s why:
It’s hard to imagine life without flour. Without flour, there’d be no bread, no cookies, no cakes, no noodles, no bagels, no gravy, and the list goes on. Flour is a pretty important staple of the average Western diet. Sadly, most of the flour you eat is quite unhealthy.
Flour comes from wheat, which, in its natural form, contains the endosperm, germ, and bran. When flour is made, the germ and the bran are removed, and the endosperm is ground into fine powder. That powder is yellow, so it is bleached–using chemicals like benzoyl peroxide and chlorine–to give it the white color we’ve grown so familiar with. The result: a white powder with almost ZERO nutritional value beyond carbohydrates. 95% of the other vitamins and minerals have been eliminated during the bleaching process.
So, what do flour companies do? They “enrich” it, adding a wide range of nutrients back into the flour once it has been ground. These nutrients are artificially produced and added into the flour AFTER the bleaching process. The result is “enriched” flours that seem healthy, but which contain far less of the nutrients than they should.
- 1 oz. of enriched flour contains just 5.6 grams of calcium, but the same amount of unbleached whole wheat flour contains 9.5 grams.
- 1 oz. of enriched flour contains just 36.7 grams of potassium, but the same amount of unbleached whole wheat flour contains 113 grams.
- 1 oz. of enriched flour contains just 3 milligrams of zinc, but the same amount of unbleached whole wheat flour contains 229 milligrams.
Are you starting to understand where this is headed? The amount of nutrients in enriched flour is pitiful when compared to flour in its natural state.
READ MORE: 7 Unknown Dangers of Eating Packaged Foods
If you were to grind the wheat endosperm with the bran and the germ, you would get a MUCH healthier form of flour. There would be fewer grams of carbs per serving (meaning less effect on your blood sugar levels), and each bite of flour would provide more nutrition. There’s no reason to waste calories on the super processed stuff, basically, and enriched flours are unhealthy enough to be considered super processed.
Well, that’s exactly what whole wheat flour is! Whole wheat flour is NOT the same as enriched flour–not by a longshot. Enriched flours are bleached flours that have simply had the nutrients put back in. Whole wheat flour is flour made from the entire kernel of wheat, including the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Instead of eliminating the healthier parts of the wheat, it is simply ground up and made into whole wheat flour. The result: a flour with more nutrients and a better nutritional profile!
Now, it’s understood that whole wheat flour won’t taste the same as regular white or enriched flour. The germ and bran both affect the flavor of the flour. Whole wheat flour has a much more mealy, earthy flavor, with an emphasis on the bran. But so what? It’s worth the flavor if it means that you’re getting fewer grams of carbs and way more nutrition per serving, right? You can change your diet habits to start eating whole wheat flour products now that you know the difference.
And don’t let anyone tell you that enriched flour is even close! Not only are there fewer nutrients in the enriched flour, but they are harder for your body to break down and absorb than the nutrients in whole wheat flour. The two are NOT the same, and you should never consider enriched flour as a healthy replacement for the natural whole wheat flour. Make the healthy choice, and go for whole wheat!