Nutrition & Health
For many years, the government health agencies of Canada and the United States have placed a strong emphasis on the importance of including cereal-based foods in daily diets. Health Canada’s Food Guide recommends consumption of cereal and whole grain foods every day. The Food Guide can be found at www.hc-sc.gc.ca.
What foods contain wheat flour?
Wheat flour is the main ingredient in most breads, bakery products, biscuits, cookies and crackers. Wheat semolina is also the main ingredient in most noodles and pasta. In fact, most noodles and pasta are almost 100 per cent wheat.
Wheat flour is also used in a wide range of other processed foods, such as prepared breakfast cereals, prepared meat products, frozen foods, sauces, gravies, soups, confectionery products, desserts and snack foods. Food products containing wheat flour are found in virtually every section of food stores.
Why should I eat foods made from wheat?
Wheat flours and semolinas contain nutrients that are essential to good nutrition. They include protein, complex carbohydrates (starches), dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. Most foods made from wheat are high in energy and low in fat. Throughout the history of civilization, wheat and other cereal-based foods have been consumed as staple foods.
In recent years, scientific research has confirmed that good nutrition promotes good health. It is now known that wheat and other cereal-based foods and food ingredients can improve bodily functions and help to prevent some diseases, including cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer.
Flour Enrichment - Added Vitamins and Minerals
Flour has been used as a carrier for certain vitamins and minerals for more than half a century. Flour enrichment was introduced in the United Kingdom during the early 1940s. There was concern that the dark (high ash, long extraction) flour being produced at that time would interfere (because of the fine bran present) with the absorption of calcium. There was also a need for B vitamins due to the lack of availability of some fresh foods. B vitamins and calcium were added to supplement those missing from the diet.
A study done in Newfoundland, also during the early 1940s, showed a deficiency in iron, calcium and B vitamins in the diet. The enrichment of flour in Newfoundland rapidly cleared up the diet deficiency problems on the island.
When Newfoundland joined Canada as a province in 1953, enrichment of flour remained mandatory in that province and optional in the rest of Canada. However, most flour sold directly to consumers was enriched as was a high proportion of bakery flours. Standards were established by Health Canada for both enriched flour and enriched bread.
A national dietary intake study completed in 1970 showed the continuing need for the B vitamins and iron in the diets of certain groups of Canadians. Health Canada decided that flour was the best vehicle to deliver the lacking vitamins and minerals to the Canadian population. To achieve this objective, the enrichment of flour with B vitamins and iron was made mandatory in 1975.
The government of the United States also implemented mandatory enrichment of flour and bakery products but chose levels that were slightly different from those required in Canada. The U.S. introduced mandatory folic acid addition to flour and baked goods in 1997. CNMA, the Baking Association of Canada and the Canadian Pasta Manufacturers Association led efforts to make enrichment with folic acid mandatory in Canada and to completely harmonize Canada’s enrichment requirements with those of the United States. The Canadian and U.S. enrichment standards remain identical. However, industry and government proposals for additional enrichment with folic acid and vitamin B12 are under active consideration.
|ENRICHMENT LEVELS FOR FLOUR IN CANADA|
|Mandatory||Minimum level per 100 g of flour|
|niacin or niacinamide||5.30 mg|
|folic acid||0.15 mg|
|Optional||Minimum level per 100 g of flour|
|vitamin B6||0.31 mg|
|d-pantothenic acid||1.30 mg|
|calcium carbonate, edible bone meal, ground limestone or calcium sulphate in an amount that will provide 140 mg of calcium in 100 g of flour.|
What foods contain oat products?
Milled oat products are used as ingredients in many breakfast cereal and bakery products, including whole grain foods such as rolled and flaked oat ready-to-cook breakfast cereals.
Why should I eat foods made from oats?
Dietary fibre derived from oats has been recognized as being beneficial in reducing serum cholesterol levels associated with high risk of cardiovascular disease. Oat flours, meals and breakfast cereals are typically high in fibre.
What foods contain milled corn products?
Milled corn products are found in a wide range of breakfast cereals and bakery products, including breads and muffins. Milled corn products are also a principal ingredient in Mexican style food wraps, tacos, burritos and in snack foods such as nachos and corn chips.
Why should I eat foods made from corn?
Like other cereal grains, corn contains nutrients that contribute to a balanced diet and good health.