You’ve seen the words, “enriched” and “fortified” on food labels for years, but what exactly do they mean? “Enriched” is simply adding back nutrients lost when grains are processed, or refined. “Fortified” is adding extra nutrients, to help resolve a public health concern.
Together these processes add up to grain products with better-for-you nutrition. Whether it’s pasta in any shape, crusty country bread, or crunchy breakfast cereal, foods made with refined grains can deliver good nutrition – with unique benefits of their own.
Enriched: B Vitamins and Iron
About 60 years ago, United States’ food processors began to enrich refined grain products, including white flour to make pasta, bread, and many other grain products. Today about 95 percent of wheat flour is enriched. The goal: to replace nutrients lost when kernels of grain are milled.
When refined, one part of the kernel (endosperm) is left, while the germ and the bran are milled out, along with B vitamins (thiamin riboflavin, thiamin) and iron. Enrichment not only replaces them, but for some nutrients, the level is higher than before. What do these nutrients do?
- B vitamins: Among other roles, they help your body produce energy. Looking back, enriching grains also helped eradicate beriberi and pellagra, the once common thiamin and niacin deficiencies.
- Iron: Your body needs iron to carry oxygen in your blood, and then to produce energy in your cells. Iron enrichment lowers the chance of developing iron deficiency anemia. Made with enriched durum wheat flour, a 2-ounce (dry) serving of Dreamfields pasta has 10% Daily Value for iron.
Fortified: Fiber and Folic Acid
Fortification, adding extra nutrients, is another way that many refined grain products get a nutrition boost. Folic acid is added by law; others, such as fiber, are added voluntarily. Dreamfields pasta is fortified with:
- Folic acid: Among its functions, this B vitamin is essential for women before and during pregnancy. Because refined grains are folic acid fortified, far fewer babies are born today with nervous system (neural tube) defects. Folic acid may help reduce other health risks, too, such as strokes and some cancers.
Refined grain products must be folic acid fortified, with about twice the folic acid of most whole grain counterparts. Whole grains may be fortified voluntarily.
- Fiber: From plant-based foods, fiber supports overall good health, aids digestion and helps you feel full longer after eating. Depending on age and gender, adults need 21 to 38 grams of fiber daily.
Dreamfields pasta has 2 ½ times the fiber in traditional pasta. It delivers 5 grams of fiber per 2 ounces (dry) serving. Of that, about half is inulin, a prebiotic soluble fiber found naturally in many vegetables, and in Dreamfields, from chicory root. Xanthan gum and pectin provide fiber, too; being insoluble, they have different benefits.
Check the Dreamfields Label
The package is your place to identify enriched and fortified grain products – and see how they contribute to your good nutrition.
- With an “enriched” claim, they must contain at least 10% more of the Daily Value (DV) of the nutrient(s) found in un-enriched counterparts.
- “Enriched” and “fortified,” the ingredient list must show all the nutrients added for good nutrition.
- The Nutrition Facts: it shows how much thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, iron and fiber, as well as protein and other nutrients, that a serving of Dreamfields pasta provides.
Both enriched and fortified, Dreamfields pasta has all of the taste and texture of traditional pasta!
Roberta L. Duyff, MS, RDN, CFCS is author of the American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, with more about enriched and fortified foods in healthy meals!