March is National Nutrition Month! An Opportunity to Deliver the Facts on Wheat Foods
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has selected "Get Your Plate in Shape" as their 2012 theme for National Nutrition Month (NNM), which supports the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and USDA's new food icon, MyPlate.
NNM was launched in 1973 by a presidential proclamation and was immediately embraced by the American Dietetic Association and its members as an opportunity to highlight the profession and provide a platform for delivering sound nutrition messages to the public. With that goal in mind, the Wheat Foods Council takes this opportunity to disseminate some facts about wheat products that are often misconstrued by the press and sometimes by health professionals too.
Let's jump right in with the often-stated notion that all processed wheat foods are unhealthy and are void of nutrients. Generally speaking, a processed food is one that has undergone a deliberate change from the point of origin to the time of consumption. Degrees of food processing vary greatly from canning, freezing or fully formulating a product from individual ingredients. Wheat foods are abundant in our food supply and provide numerous nutrients to the diet including: complex carbohydrates, fiber, B vitamins, and the minerals iron, zinc, selenium, and magnesium.
Wheat has been processed by man for thousands of years and used for numerous purposes depending on the combination of bran, endosperm and germ t. Enriched white bread products provide many options that no other type of bread can replace. Can you imagine only having one type of bread for all of your culinary needs? Some people would never dream of using anything but white bread for a grilled cheese sandwich and a reuben would not be a reuben without that signature pumpernickel or rye bread.
Many nutrition professionals are adamant that consumers only eat 100% whole grain foods and believe anything else is unhealthy. There is no science to support that recommendation. Enriched wheat foods (95% of all white flour in the U.S.) are fortified with the B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin and folic acid at double the amount in whole grains. Niacin, another B vitamin, and Iron are replaced in equal amounts as found in whole grains. Folic acid fortification, which began in 1998, has decreased neural tube birth defects, such as spina bifida, f 36% In fact, in May of 2011 CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) stated that the success of folic acid fortification is one of the top ten health initiatives of this century.
Enriched wheat products do not have as much fiber as a whole wheat product but sandwiches, pastas, pizza crusts or crackers can be paired with foods that provide additional fiber. Think of hummus on pita chips, a vegetarian pizza or a pasta primavera loaded with vegetables.
It is important to keep in mind that wheat foods provide nutrients to the diet whether they are in whole grain or enriched varieties. Nutrition professionals can confidently recommend that consumers can include these foods into a balanced, healthful diet.ShareThis