I don't know why anyone would be still eating white bread and cooking up white pasta anymore. I realized that not everyone knows the real story behind the choice they are making, so I thought I'd share it with you in this greening your diet series. What better way to green your diet then to add vitamins and nutrients along with it!
Wheat is made up of 3 basic parts, starch, germ & bran. All together this is good healthy stuff. Somewhere along the way though it become desirable and better to eat whiter foods, the whiter the bread the better. Big no no, and we are only now figuring this out publicly. This is not new information by any means, people have been eating nutritious and unscrewed around with bread & pasta for thousands of years, but there definitely, in this country at least has been a moving away from the white bread sammies of years past.
When wheat is processed to make white bread, pasta, cereals and other foods it is heated to a level where the germ & bran fall off, leaving behind the white part, the pure white "goodness", the starch. By doing this you the eater are receiving next to nothing nutritionally. All the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are in the germ & bran. Making white bread removes the only part worth anything. Big companies know this, so after doing that, they enrich (I love that they use the term 'enrich' as if what they are doing isn't totally wrong!) the starch with vitamins, fiber and iron, but never close to the amount of nutrition originally in whole grains. Wanna know another reason they do this? If you guess money, you'd be right! Starch alone, without the oh so nutritional germ & bran is more bug resistant and has a much longer shelf life. These two things are like dollar signs in a manufactures eyes.
The environmental toll to process already perfect wheat is staggering, the task creates waste, uses fuel to run machines and is likely using unnecessary chemicals to "enrich" what is left of the wheat after they've processed it to be nice and white for their consumers.
So, what to do? Stick to WHOLE GRAINS, meaning they haven't been processed, WHOLE being the keyword there. Whole wheat bread is great, but make sure you don't see "enriched with niacin, iron, fiber or vitamins" on the label, not to mention if you see this lovely ingredient, molasses, which only serves to darken white bread to make it appear more like whole grain bread. See they've got you! It's really you against the world in that bread aisle. Come armed with the knowledge I've given you and you'll do fine! Here are some pointers to remember
*Bran & Germ = only nutritional part
*Look for 16 grams or more of WHOLE GRAINS and NO refined grains
*16 grams of whole grains = 1 serving
*Refining = Bad
*Molasses = Bad (it's used only to color the bread so it looks more brown)
*WHOLE GRAIN or WHOLE WHEAT should be top 1 and/or 2 on the list of ingredients
*Ingredients should NOT include the word "enriched", if you see that even after the words whole grain or whole wheat you're only getting a percentage of whole grains and the rest is white enriched flour! Beware!
*This effects ANYTHING made with wheat flour, breads, muffins, bagels, pasta, cereals, crackers, the list goes on.....
Make every bite count!
(Image: bread slices: arm1.static.flickr.com)