Wheat is the main ingredient used in bread and most of the time it is in the form of refined white flour or bleached flour or maida. White flour is what you get when you strip away the fiber-rich bran and nutrient-rich germ from wheat, leaving only the nutrient-depleted starch. The reason wheat was originally refined and processed into white flour was to extend shelf life and get soft smooth bread.
The table below shows the percentage of nutrients lost when whole wheat flour or atta is refined into white flour:
Protein: 25 percent lost
Fiber: 95 percent lost
Calcium: 56 percent lost
Copper: 62 percent lost
Iron: 84 percent lost
Manganese: 82 percent lost
Phosphorus: 69 percent lost
Potassium: 74 percent lost
Selenium: 52 percent lost
Zinc: 76 percent lost
Vitamin B1: 73 percent lost
Vitamin B2: 81 percent lost
Vitamin B3: 80 percent lost
Vitamin B5: 56 percent lost
Vitamin B6: 87 percent lost
Folate: 59 percent lost
Vitamin E: 95 percent lost
Many people think that when white flour is “enriched” with added vitamins, the nutritional value is restored. But this is far from true, of the twenty-five nutrients that are removed when whole wheat flour is milled into white flour, only five nutrients are chemically replaced when the white flour is enriched.
Whole-grain flour or atta contains the whole kernel, which has three layers — the fibre-rich bran outer layer; the endosperm middle layer; and the germ, the grain’s nutrient-dense embryo. The problem is, bread made from whole-grain flour tastes grainy, and many people don’t like them.
The intake of whole-grains provides protection from several cancers. ..Especially colorectal cancers, hormone-related cancers (breast, prostate, ovarian, and uterine cancer), pancreatic cancer, and other cancers. Apart from this, a diet rich in whole grains can help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Whole grains and refined grains are both high in carbohydrates, but they do not act the same way in the body. White flour, white rice, and other refined grain products are absorbed rapidly into the blood stream, causing rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels. The fibre found in whole grains slows these fluctuations, helps lower cholesterol levels, keeps the digestive tract healthy, and provides many other advantages. Also, whole grains provide important nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin E, and other healthy substances.
Most bread companies add a small amount of whole grains to their enriched refined flour bread and wrongly call it whole wheat/wholegrain bread….misleading consumers who do not read labels. This bread just cannot be as nutritious as real whole grain bread. Consumers need to pay attention to bread labels, which can be misleading. Often, breads with healthy-sounding words like “7 grains,” “cracked wheat” and “multi-grain” on the label are made with bleached flour and brown food coloring rather than healthful whole grains. Some bread packages use terms like “100 percent wheat,” which gives many shoppers the wrong impression they are buying 100 percent whole wheat bread.
And many multigrain varieties contain less than 2 percent of the grains they promise on the front of the package. The key is to look at the ingredient list. If a “whole” grain is not the first ingredient and if it contains any bleached, enriched flour, then it’s not a 100 percent whole-grain bread. Another clue is to look at the fiber content. Most whole-grain breads have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, although some will have more.
So choose wisely and stay blessed with good health… always