Thursday, 7 October 2010

Crime of the century! (Sarcasm, clearly)

"Jane Clarke is Britain's leading nutritionist. Her books are read by millions and she acted as adviser to Jamie Oliver on his ground-breaking School Dinners programme. As well as being an advocate of healthy eating she passionately believes that many of our illnesses can be treated through our diet.

My wife has put us on a strict no-white-flour diet. We don't have white bread any more, only brown. The same goes for rolls, rice, and pasta. She says there's not enough fibre in white flour. I'm finding this really hard going, so do the children (daughter, 11; sons, eight and six). Is white really so bad? Ed Buckley, Herts.

You might be surprised to read a nutritionist saying this, but I don't think there is anything wrong with having white bread in your diet, whatever the TV diet gurus say. After all, the traditional Italian diet seldom has any wholegrain or wholemeal, yet is often quoted as one of the healthiest. White flour gets a bad press because it is refined, which means it has had the husk and goodness of the wholegrain removed in the milling. But under UK law, it has to be fortified with calcium, iron, niacin and thiamin, so you're still getting a good hit of nutrients. Another 'plus' is that white bread and pasta are easy to digest, and can give us all a useful dose of energy. And then there's the taste. Almost nothing beats a freshly baked slice of white bread with jam (although as a nutritionist I'd prefer it was jam with a high fruit content, or a fruit 'spread').

It might also surprise readers to learn that too much wholegrain bread, pasta and cereals is not necessarily good for anyone either, particularly children. Whole grains are a good source of complex carbohydrate, fibre and protein, but they can sometimes be too 'bulky', making you feel full before you've actually consumed enough calories to keep your body going. Overly healthy parents can fill their children so full of wholegrain that they lack energy. Also, their kids won't necessarily absorb enough iron and calcium, and they could become anaemic.

This is not meant to alarm parents whose children eat mainly wholemeal products, provided they have a well-balanced diet with full-cream products such as yoghurt and milk, plenty of vegetables and fruits etc, they should be fine. A child's growth, progress and liveliness will indicate whether he or she is getting enough energy through a wholegrain diet.

I have white bread in my house and don't always use wholemeal flour, partly because some dishes just don't work with it. It's a question of balance: for older children I would suggest a diet of half wholemeal foods, half white flour; for preschoolers, just over a third of wholemeal foods and the rest white flour.

Adults need more wholegrain foods than this in order to avoid gut problems such as constipation, and to reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

'Granary' bread is a tastier option, although it doesn't have as much goodness. I'd avoid so-called 'brown' bread which can be made literally with just white flour which has been dyed brown. Look for 'wholemeal' or wholegrain on the label."

All information has been taken from the Daily Mail Online.

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