Are Enriched Foods Good or Bad for You?

November 2, 2012

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As you’re doing your grocery shopping, you probably notice that a lot of food labels state that the product is enriched or made with enriched ingredients. What exactly does this term mean, and just how healthy are enriched foods?

It looks good on the label, and if you don’t understand the term, you might be fooled into thinking that enriched foods are much healthier for you. The truth is that these foods have had their natural vitamins and minerals removed only to be replaced later on in the manufacturing process. Unfortunately, many of the nutrients that are added to processed foods either do nothing for your body, or they do more harm than good.

Most enriched foods are made from grain products like bread, rice and cereals. When grains are processed, they lose a lot of their natural nutrients. Manufacturers enrich their products by replacing those lost nutrients. Sometimes they also add completely new nutrients that were never part of the original food.

The trouble with the added nutrients is that these additives are often in a bio-unavailable form, which means that your body cannot absorb them or use them in any way. When you eat enriched foods, you’re putting added stress on your digestive system without nutritional benefit. Eventually, after eating a diet high in enriched foods for some time, you’ll become malnourished, which leads to numerous health problems including obesity and heart disease. In addition, the added nutrients are often unnatural vitamins and minerals that can lead to toxicity. This is especially true with iron and copper.

To get the most nutritional value from your food, try to eat it in the most natural state you can. Your diet should focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain products and low-fat protein sources. For your health’s sake, don’t count on enriched foods to satisfy your body’s nutritional needs.

 

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