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    Archive for the ‘enrichment’ Category

    Surprise! Another Half-Truthful Health Claim

    unclebens_jpgMany thanks to Small Bites’ Twitter follower @koshtoo, who shared this photograph with me, as she believed I “would find interesting.”  I certainly did!

    In case you are unable to see the photograph, it shows a box of Uncle Ben’s Original converted white rice.  The lower right-hand corner of the box features a “Supports a Healthy Heart” statement and logo.

    Underneath the logo, we see:

    Enriched with Vitamins and Minerals

    Naturally Fat-Free

    Oh, dear.

    Sure.  A refined grain like white rice does not add a single gram of fat to our diets, but that does not make it heart-healthy.

    In fact, refined, fiberless carbohydrates like white rice raise triglyceride levels.

    High triglycerides — they are a type of fat in the blood, in case you weren’t sure — are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.  NOT heart-healthy!

    Vitamin and mineral enrichment, meanwhile, is kind of a nutritional red flag.  After all, enrichment means that most of the nutrients originally found in that food were added back in after the food underwent significant processing.

    Brown rice has those exact same nutrients.  Since brown rice is not processed to the same degree as white rice, they all stay in their place, without the need to enrich.

    What upsets me most about this health claim is that it reinforces the myth that “low fat = heart healthy.”

    Remember: some of the best foods we can eat for heart-health — such as salmon, sardines, avocados, nuts, and seeds — are rich in healthy fats.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Enriched Whole Grain Bread?

    dsc00448I love this Costco whole grain loaf [I took a photo of the ingredient label for you to see] but have questions regarding some of the ingredients that go into it, namely the thiamine mononitrate, the riboflavin and the ferrous sulfate.

    I know that they can be described as dietary supplements but I am an avid whole grains baker myself and never add any of that to my breads.

    Two questions: Should I?   Do these nutrients double as dough conditioners and could it the reason Costco is using them?

    — “MC”
    Via e-mail

    Guess what?  Contrary to what Costco wants you to think, that loaf is not 100% whole grain.

    Notice the first ingredient?  Unbleached flour?  That’s refined white flour.

    Sure, whole wheat flour is the fourth ingredient, so this bread contains some whole grains, but it is not an entirely whole grain bread.  If you seek 100% whole grain products, look for whole grain flours as the first (and only) ingredient.

    In the United States, per the National Enrichment Act of 1942, all refined grain products MUST be enriched with niacin, thiamin, riboflavin and iron.

    Folate is a fortified nutrient and was not legally required to be added to refined grains until 1998.

    Remember, enrichment refers to putting nutrients lost during processing back into a food, while fortification entails tacking on nutrients not naturally found in a given food.

    When a bread is 100% whole grain (meaning ONLY whole grain flours are used), it is not enriched.

    These nutrients do not double as dough conditioners; they are there because it’s the law!

    By the way, this would only be considered false advertising if the loaf was sold under the guise of being “100% whole grain.”  It is TECHNICALLY a whole grain loaf since it DOES contain whole grains.

    Trust me, manufacturers know this.  They also know the words “whole grain” help boost sales.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Pasta

    I’ve heard so many different things about pasta from a nutritional standpoint.

    Is pasta from Italy enriched with vitamins and minerals [like it is in the United States]?

    Is pasta cooked al dente better for you because it digests slower?

    Some say [pasta] is no better than white refined bread, but others say differently?

    What’s the deal?

    — Carrie Watson
    (via the blog)

    What a great trilogy of questions! Let’s taken them one by one.

    White flour products in the United States are enriched with nutrients lost in the milling process (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and iron) as a result of The Federal Enrichment Act of 1942.

    In the United States, all white flour products are also fortified with folate.

    Some countries have similar laws (in Argentina, the same nutrients are added back to flour, whereas in England white flour must be enriched with these nutrients AND fortified with calcium), but Italy is not one of them.

    From a nutritional standpoint, cooking pasta al dente is recommended over mushy consistencies since the “al dente” texture has a lower glycemic index (meaning it does not spike blood glucose levels quite as much.)

    However, remember that the glycemic load of a pasta meal is ultimately determined by what else you are eating with your pasta.

    If, for example, your pasta dinner contains some protein, fat, and fiber (i.e.: whole wheat pasta with meatballs and parmesan cheese), those additional components will help slow down digestion and lessen the sharp spike in blood sugar levels.

    As far as white bread and pasta made with refined flour are concerned — yes, they are basically identical from a nutritional standpoint (the main exception being that one ounce of bread has roughly 150 to 200 milligrams of sodium, while most dry pasta is sodium-free.)

    It’s not that white bread and pasta are inherently unhealthy, but rather that, compared to whole wheat varieties, they are nutritionally inferior.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Omega-3 Fortified Eggs

    What is the process exactly in adding Omega-3 to eggs?

    How is this done?

    I know the eggs are “fortified” but what does this mean?

    — Lori (last name unknown)
    Via the blog

    Before I get to your actual question, this is a good time to point out the difference between fortification and enrichment.

    When enriching a food or ingredient (for instance, white flour,) food manufacturers are adding back nutrients that were already present in that food or ingredient prior to processing.

    Fortification, meanwhile, entails the addition of one or more nutrients that are not inherently part of that food or ingredient.

    Similarly, adding higher quantities of a nutrient than what is naturally present in a food or ingredient also falls under the “fortification” umbrella.

    As far as Omega-3 fortified eggs, it is very simply done by adding food sources of Omega-3 to chicken feed — usually fish oils or flax.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Vegan Child’s Nutrition

    I have a picky eater at home, an 8-year-old I adopted last year from another country.

    She is still very suspicious of new foods, and I have taken to sneaking supplements into her diet wherever I can.

    She’s vegan and I’m vegetarian; I open up iron supplement capsules and sprinkle small amounts of iron into her food; same with B-complex capsules and multi-vitamin caps.

    She gets plenty of protein and fiber, since she’s happy to eat tempeh, beans, quinoa, peanut butter and lots of vegetables and fruits.

    I’m mostly concerned with her iron, B-complex, calcium and Omega-3 intake.

    The last two I can handle with flax oil, wakame powder and various calcium supplements.

    Actually, I still think she could be getting more calcium if she’d drink milk, but she won’t.

    — Jennifer Armstrong
    Saratoga Springs, NY

    Although I understand your concerns regarding your child’s nutrition, I believe she is doing just fine based on the eating patterns you describe above.

    First of all, I am impressed that an 8 year old appreciates the taste of quinoa and tempeh – nutritious foods that many adults shun, or downright don’t even know about.

    Most people with children your age are concerned about the increasing consumption of Doritos, Oreos, and soda!

    Alright, let’s discuss the specific nutrients you inquired about.

    As far as iron is concerned, there is no absolutely need to provide capsules.

    An omnivorous 8 year old should get 10 milligrams of iron a day; since your daughter is vegan – and therefore consuming solely non-heme sources – I would place her requirement at 15 milligrams.

    Note that between the ages of 9 and 12, this requirement will lessen to approximately 12 milligrams.

    Considering the iron amounts in these vegan foods, you’ll see why iron pills are basically a waste of money:

    Quinoa (1 cup): 6.2 milligrams
    Soybeans (1/2 cup): 4 milligrams
    Lentils (1/2 cup): 3.2 milligrams
    Kidney beans, chickpeas, black eyed peas (1/2 cup): 2.5 milligrams

    Don’t forget enriched and fortified grains.

    Half a cup of fortified oatmeal provides 6.5 milligrams of iron, and a cup of enriched cereal (say, Cheerios) provides 9 milligrams!<

    In terms of calcium, she currently needs 800 milligrams a day, but this will jump to 1,300 from age 9 to 18.

    Again, though, no need for supplementation.

    It does take more planning than an omnivorous diet, but it can be done.

    Check out these values:

    Calcium-fortified orange juice (1 cup): 300 milligrams
    Soy yogurt (1 cup): 300 milligrams
    Soymilk (1 cup): 300 milligrams
    Tofu (4 oz.): 260 milligrams
    Collard greens (1/2 cup): 175 mg
    Almonds (1 oz): 80 mg

    Although Vitamin B12 is often cited as an issue in vegan diets, fortification has made this former problem a lot easier to manage.

    Many popular cereals are fortified with vitamin B12.

    Let’s go back to the Cheerios example — 1 cup provides a third of a day’s needs.

    A cup of some (fortified) soymilks, meanwhile, contains 40 percent of a day’s worth of B12!

    Wakame – a kelp – is also a great source. It’s one of the few seaweeds that contains human-active B12 (as opposed to the analog type, which is useless in our bodies).

    In the event that B12 needs can not be met through food, I do recommend supplementation. Make sure it is specifically a B12 supplement and not a multivitamin containing B12 (vitamin C, vitamin E, and iron can impede absorption).

    Omega-3 fatty acids are the most difficult to get from a vegan diet, since walnuts and flaxseeds only contain alpha linoleic acid (they do not contribute EPA and DHA, the two essential fatty acids found in fish).

    However, Omega-3 supplements made from algae are vegan and contain EPA and DHA!

    While we’re on the topic of supplementation, I think everyone — carnivore, vegan, and everywhere in between — should supplement their diet with vitamin D.

    One last thing – don’t get discouraged by your daughter’s adverse reactions to new foods.

    Research has determined that it takes approximately eight to ten tries for a new food to be accepted by a young child.

    The key is slow integration.

    For instance, let’s say your daughter enjoys baby carrots but the first time she tried celery she wasn’t too keen on it.

    Rather than outright swap carrots for celery pieces overnight, throw in four or five chopped bits of celery next time you pack some baby carrots in her lunch box.

    This subtle addition of a new flavor will be less intimidating to her and less of a shock to her palate.

    Do this another five or six times. The results might surprise you!

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    Nutrition History: Healthier Breads

    Look at the food label for any grain product (even the most refined of breads) and you’ll always see 4 B-vitamins (thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folate) and iron listed.

    Thiamin(B1), riboflavin (B2), and niacin (B3), are bread’s enriched vitamins, while iron is its enriched mineral. Meaning, the flour lost these nutrients while undergoing the milling process, so they are added back in.

    The requirement of replenishing these nutrients stems from the Enrichment Act of 1942, an initiative to lower the rates of vitamin and mineral deficiencies at the time.

    In February of 1996, the Food & Drug Administration required that folic acid (the bioavailable version of folate, another B vitamin) be added to all grain products,in an effort to lower rates of neural tube defects (research unequivocally demonstrated that babies of women who consumed low levels of folate during the first trimester of pregnancy had a higher risk of being born with neural tube defects.)

    Folate is not originally found in the endosperm of grains (which is the only part white bread is made from), so it is put in via fortification (added on), rather than enrichment (added back).

    Since folate is a B vitamin (which is water soluble), it is crucial to get the required amount every single day.

    Whole grains naturally contain folate, so they do not need extra amounts.

    Quick lesson on whole wheat vs. white or regular wheat bread:

    Whole wheat breads use all 3 parts of the wheat shaft: the germ, bran, and endosperm
    Refined wheat breads only use the endosperm (thus completely missing out on nutrients found exclusively in the bran and germ, such as vitamin E and selenium).

    Fortunately, the folate initiative has worked! Since the fortification of folate to breads, cereals, and pastas, neural tube defects have decreased by 25 percent in this country.

    Why bread products? They are widely consumed by people in the United States, regardless of age, socioeconomic level, or ethnicity.

    That being said, commercial breads are not the best sources of folate. Spinach, asparagus, and all sorts of legumes (lentils, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, etc.) provide more substantial amounts of this crucial B-vitamin.

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