Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Real Food Versus Enriched Flour

The New York Times today adding quite a zinger into the article, A Growing Debate Over Folic Acid in Flour - where it was stated, "Blood levels of folate among women have been declining, according to a C.D.C. study released last January, perhaps because of worsening obesity and the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets."

This is what happens when one believes the best source of folic acid is enriched white flour, an ingredient universally shunned by those following a low carbohydrate diet. It's important to note that folic acid is the synthetic form of folate which is found naturally in vegetables, citrus fruits, legumes and even liver.

So why the worry about a low carbohydrate diet?

It seems the powers that be fail to appreciate just how easy it is to meet and exceed folate recommendations with food alone. Rather than express real concern over the poor dietary habits in the United States, they'll push for more fortification of the nutritionally bankrupt food being consumed.

The current recommendation for folic acid/folate is 400mcg a day. Want to see just how easy it is to meet that intake with real food?

A salad made with 2-cups shredded romaine, 1/4 cup shredded red cabbage, 4 cherry tomatoes and 1/3 of a medium cucumber along with 1-cup cooked spinach provides 437.5mcg of folate before any other folate containing foods are included in the day.

That is what someone following a low carbohydrate diet might choose to eat in a day since it provides just 84-calories, 15g total carbohydrate and 8g of fiber, providng just 7g net carbohydrate in their day.

Once they add in other options to their day their intake of folate will rise, although how much they consume at the end of the day will depend upon their choices.

But one thing is clear here - with a salad and a cup of spinach, they've met and exceeded the recommended intake!

I've said it many times - eat real food, eat good food and eat foods rich with nutrients. In this case, eating your non-starchy vegetables is a great way to meet and exceed requriements for folate!


  1. Migraineur3:55 PM

    Yeah, it's like these people don't even know that folate comes from the Latin word for "leaf"!

    Dianne, aka Migraineur

  2. Markus9:36 AM

    Regina, you may wish to use these figures from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference:

    Folate, food value per 100 grams
    Chicken liver pan fried 560
    Lamb liver pan fried 400
    Beef liver pan fried 260
    Pork liver cooked 163
    Spinach boiled 146
    Broccoli – boiled 108
    Cabbage cooked Savoy 46

  3. I once figured you would have to eat 16 slices of fortified white bread a day to get your RDA of folic acid. Who does that? Even the biggest carb junkie won't eat that much.

    As you said, much better to eat a nice mixed green salad with spinach. If you want mega doses, eat liver.

    If they have to "fortify" it, it can't be that great of a food to begin with.