First of all, we have to understand that bread (made from the whole wheat grain) is almost the perfect food. Of the 44 known essential nutrients needed by our bodies and naturally obtained from foods, only 4 are missing from wheat - vitamin A, B12, and C, and the mineral iodine.
As long as bran is intact and grain kept relatively cool, dry and rodent or bug free, these “seeds” will store indefinitely with no nutrient loss. Once broken open, as in milling, many of these nutrients, now exposed to oxygen, are lost by oxidation. In fact, once milled, as much as 45% of nutrients are oxidized in first day alone. In 3 days, 72 hours later, 90% of nutrients are lost to oxidation alone.
In 1876, the first light white French rolls were exhibited in France. The Governor of Minnesota was in attendance and determined to bring this to America. White flour is where they have separated the bran and germ, leaving only the endosperm. This new white flour was storable and could be shipped long distances without becoming rancid.
Disease and illness related to vitamin deficiencies rapidly increased. Beriberi and pellagra (2 vitamin B deficiency diseases) and anemia became so prevalent that health officials urged the milling industry to return the bran and germ to the flour. However, millers had developed a lucrative market for the “by-products” of the milling process - chicken and cattle feed! So instead, they chose to “enrich” the long lasting white flour.
But here is the fallacy of enrichment: when you compare whole wheat bread to enriched bread, you can see that they failed miserably with replacing most of the nutrients. Because I don't know how to adequately add a chart to my blog, you will have to look at the numbers following each nutrient. The first number is the quantity in Whole Wheat Bread (made from freshly ground wheat), the second in White Unenriched Bread, and the third is White Enriched Bread.
Nutrient Whole Wheat White Unenriched White Enriched
Calories 400 455 455
Protein (g) 16.0 13.1 13.1
Fat (g) 2.4 1.3 1.3
Carbohydrate (g) 85.2 95.1 95.1
Calcium (mg) 49 20 20
Phosphorus (mg) 446 109 109
Iron (mg) 4.0 1.0 3.6*
Potassium (mg) 444 119 119
Thiamin (mg) 0.66 0.08 0.55*
Riboflavin (mg) 0.14 0.06 0.33*
Niacin (mg) 5.2 1.1 4.4*
(Source: USDA Handbook No. 436 *From added nutrients)
Only riboflavin reaches or exceeds original content. Refined white flour is missing up to 80% of the nutrients found in the original wheat kernels. The contents of 22 vitamins and minerals is diminished by 70-80%, and the fiber content is only 7% of original amount. Although protein content is only slightly affected, the nutritional value of that protein is greatly reduced because the essential amino acid lysine is lost. What little vitamin E is left after refining is destroyed when flour is bleached to make it “whiter than white”. Four nutrients - iron and 3 B vitamins, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin - have been artificially added to the refined white product, but some 25-30 have been either drastically or completely reduced.When I bake bread, I use only 6 ingredients: freshly ground whole wheat flour, water, honey, yeast, salt and oil. All of these ingredients are good for your body and your health. There is plenty of good fiber in this bread to aid in your digestive system. I grind my flour immediately before baking bread, so there is protein and all these wonderful nutrients for your body. And best of all, it is light, soft and oh, so yummy!