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What the heck is Bleached and Enriched Flour?
I’m sure you’ve seen these terms, mainly any time you buy something that is made of wheat flour.
Simply put, wheat is bleached to make it pure white, and doing so destroys any nutrients and so the manufacturers enrich the wheat with B vitamins, iron, and sometimes calcium.
So what we are left with is enriched, wheat flour that is found in EVERYTHING!!!
Not that you really want to know, but a whole grain of wheat, or berry as it is called, is comprised of three parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.
The bran and germ are removed, which is a shame because the bran has fiber, protein, and trace minerals, while the germ contains B vitamins, trace minerals, and the grain’s fat.
Since the fat can go rancid, the germ is removed to enhance shelf life.
It is the endosperm that is ground into flour, but it has a yellowish tint to it, which makes it yucky looking, and so this is bleached using chlorine and benzoyl peroxide to make it white.
Interestingly, benzoyl peroxide is an antiseptic and is used to treat acne- just saying.
As stated earlier, this bleaching process destroys many of the nutrients, and so now the flour has to be enriched.
Yeah, but enriched is enriched, right?
Not really. Wheat flour is a highly processed food. Remember all that stuff earlier about nutrient-dense, whole foods?
Enriched flour is not a nutrient-dense, whole food, now is it?
If one has to eat bread and wheat, I suppose one should make sure that it is made of whole grains- that is to say, the whole wheat berry with the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. It has more fiber and protein with fewer calories than enriched flour.
So I guess that touches upon another term we see and hear about all the time- whole grains. That is exactly what that means- all 3 parts, the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.
While we are on the topic we should probably look at gluten.
Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, and barley. Some suggest that it is also found in oats having been cross-contaminated in processing factories.
Gluten is the protein that makes dough sticky- think of pizza dough as it is stretched. Without the gluten, the dough would tear into pieces.
Gluten is simply gluten. It is not evil, it is not vile, nor is it necessarily good, but in those who have sensitivities, allergies, and diseases such as Celiac disease it can be a real problem.
Many think that when they hear the term gluten-free, it is a healthy alternative, and if one wants to eat cakes, cookies, and other baked goodies, gluten-free is the way to go.
No. These are still highly processed foods with lots of sugars, bad oils, and other nasty surprises. So don’t think eating a whole gluten-free birthday cake is a great health option. It’s not.
Instead of gluten, manufacturers use tapioca and other rice-based grains which are similar in their molecular compositions to gluten, in fact so similar that they can often act similarly to gluten. One will have to be careful and see how they respond when eating gluten-free.
I guess the word of caution here is do not be fooled into thinking because something is gluten-free that it is automatically healthier for you, or perhaps a better option.
Like many things, gluten-free has become a buzzword, and it might actually do you more harm than good.
Again, pay attention.
Okay, so let’s leave this blog at that and see if we can’t kind of wrap all this up next time!
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