White bread is prepared from bleached flour (maida), which is highly refined (purified). Milling and bleaching removes or partially removes the germ (nutrient rich part of grain) and the bran (fibre rich part) leaving mainly the starch rich endosperm. This leads to loss of more than 22 important nutrients such as FIBER, VITAMINS, and MINERALS. In advanced countries of the world, Flour is so widely used that some bakeries follow flour enrichment and replace four vitamins namely: thiamin niacin, riboflavin, and iron. Other nutrients, such as Vitamin B6, zinc, manganese, and FOLIC ACID, are not added. Since in these countries, White bread contains nearly half a gram of fiber a slice, some bakeries increase the fiber content by adding dates, raisins, bran or purified powdered cellulose. Crystalline cellulose may not provide the same fiber benefits in the body as the natural cellulose that occurs in the bran of whole wheat bread.
Studies show enriched grains, such as bread, crackers, bagels, English muffins, flour, pasta, rice, and fortified cereals, are important sources of iron and B vitamins (thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid). Also folic acid fortification of enriched grains reduces the incidence of birth defects of the brain and spine, known as neural tube defects (NTD). Random clinical trials have demonstrated folic acid, as found in enriched grain foods, can lower homocysteine levels in the blood. Too much homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood, is associated with coronary heart disease and stroke. A recent study found grain fortification with folic acid could decrease coronary heart disease events by up to 8 percent in women and 13 percent in men. Folic acid might slow the destruction of brain cells in people with Alzheimer's disease. Folate is important in the development of the human nervous system during pregnancy and may play a role in the maintenance of the integrity of the brain later in life.
Health experts recommend that at least half of your daily grain servings should be whole grain. Your remaining grain servings can be refined grains, which are important sources of the B vitamin, folic acid. Refined grains are often enriched with some of the nutrients lost during the milling process.
Enriched is when nutrients that are lost during milling are added back. (white wheat flour is enriched with B-vitamins and iron to match the levels found in whole wheat flour)
Fortified means the addition of nutrients at much higher levels than the natural content (folate is added to white wheat flour)
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