An enriched food is a product to which nutrients have been added. Typically, the added nutrients were present in the food in its original form, but were removed at some point during processing. White bread is an example of an enriched food because certain vitamins are added after the bleaching process depletes them.
The word “enriched” makes it seem like something special has been added to the food to make it better. That definition of enriched foods isn’t wrong. But it’s not completely accurate.
Many enriched foods have had ingredients removed and then added back in. For example, food makers may add B vitamins or iron that was lost during the food manufacturing process. Many people confuse enriched foods with fortified foods. According to the University of Chicago, fortified foods are foods in which nutrients have simply been added, not replaced. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, enriched foods and other functional foods “have a potentially beneficial effect on health when consumed as part of a varied diet on a regular basis at effective levels based on significant standards of evidence.” In short, that means that enriched foods may be part of a healthy diet that includes a variety of different types of food. Many enriched foods are made with enriched flour. Cereals may be enriched with iron or you may see that your bread is made with enriched ingredients. Enriched foods can be part of a healthy diet.