Healthy Living on July 23, 2008 by

Fluffy White Fallacy

As a marketer, I usually tolerate quite a bit of fudge when considering claims from organizations who are working hard to introduce their products to new audiences or hold on to their shelf space. With respect to the “folic acid for a healthy pregnancy” seal introduced by the Grain Foods Foundation, I’m having a hard time following their logic. It goes something like this: folate prevents neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Processed white flour products that have been enriched with synthetic nutrients are good sources of folic acid. Therefore, mothers who desire a health pregnancy should eat more white bread products. They’ve really gone too far with this stamp of approval.

I’m not knocking enriched white flour; it’s delicious–especially with fudge. In fact, it’s often the ideal ingredient to use for certain baked goods (Ever seen a 100% whole wheat croissant?). Plus, it is truly a good source of folic acid. To be sure, we sell tons of white flour, enriched and otherwise. The problem I have with the claims made by the Grain Foods Foundation is that they present a false dilemma in which mothers can choose either enriched grain products or risk an unhealthy pregnancy for their unborn. They don’t mention anywhere that good sources of folic acid include not only cereals and baked goods (enriched and otherwise), but also leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, lettuce), okra, asparagus, fruits (bananas, melons, lemons), legumes, yeast, mushrooms, organ meat (beef liver, kidney), orange juice, and tomato juice. Without those facts presented, consumers are left to assume that enriched and processed grain products are the only source of folic acid.

If mothers are filling up on plain white bread to get their folic acid, how are they getting the other nutrients they need during pregnancy? Whole grains, beans and leafy greens would go a long way in providing those nutrients AND folic acid… if they only knew.

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