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White Bread vs. Wheat Bread

Posted by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 1:57 PM
  • 20 Replies

Simply switching from white to whole wheat bread can lower heart disease risk by 20 percent, according to research from the University of Washington reported in the April 2, 2003 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Lisa Barley

I know whole wheat bread and white bread are different, but how exactly? 

There are two big differences: how they’re processed and how healthful they are. The flour
for both is made from wheat berries, which have three nutrient-rich parts: the bran (the outer layers), the germ (the innermost area) and the endosperm (the starchy part in between). Whole wheat is processed to include all three nutritious parts, but white flour uses only the endosperm. When put head-to-head with whole wheat bread, white is a nutritional lightweight. Whole wheat is much higher in fiber, vitamins B6 and E, magnesium, zinc, folic acid and chromium.
But of all these nutritional goodies, fiber is the star:

*In a 10-year Harvard study completed in 1994, men and women who ate high-fiber breads had fewer heart attacks and strokes than those whose tastes ran to bagels and baguettes.

*Simply switching from white to whole wheat bread can lower heart disease risk by 20 percent, according to research from the University of Washington reported in the April 2, 2003
issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. 

*Fiber has long been known to aid digestive health too.

*Fiber can help you lose or maintain weight because eating fiber-dense wheat bread helps you feel full.

But a lot of white bread is enriched. Doesn’t that take care of the nutrients lost during refining?

Nope. When flour is refined, it loses the most nutritious parts of the grain—the fiber, essential fatty acids, and most of the vitamins and minerals. In fact, about 30 nutrients are removed, but
by law only five must be added back (though others often are): iron, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin and folic acid. There’s so little fiber left after processing that you’d have to eat eight pieces of white bread to get the fiber in just one piece of whole wheat bread.

Other foods besides whole grains have fiber and nutrients. Can’t I just get what I need from them and still enjoy my dinner rolls?

Whole grains provide health benefits that other foods don’t. In a Harvard study of 75,000 nurses, those who ate at least three servings a day of whole grains cut their heart attack risk by 35 percent and were less likely to get into weight or bowel trouble. By contrast, those who ate more processed foods—such as white bread, white rice and sodas—were more than twice as likely to develop diabetes. “Science continues to support the key role of whole grains in reducing chronic illnesses,” says Len Marquart, professor of nutrition at the University of Minnesota and author of the first health claim for whole grains approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

How can I tell if bread is really whole wheat?

Color used to be a clue, but no more. Although white bread is white because it’s been bleached, some dark bread has just had caramel coloring added to it. Look for “whole grain” or “whole wheat” as the first ingredient on the label. If any other ingredient is first, put the loaf back and keep looking.

Is bread a vegan food?

Not usually. Many of the breads sold in grocery stores contain non-vegan ingredients, including milk, eggs, honey, shortening or whey—not to mention sodium stearyl lactylate, glycerides, emulsifiers, natural flavorings, artificial flavorings and lactase, all of which may be derived from animals. Vegans often have better luck at bakeries but still need to ask if the bread pans are greased with animal fat. If you like to bake, you can make your own bread. But if that doesn’t interest you, try Rudi’s Organic, Nature’s Path or Brownberry’s—they all produce vegan breads available nationwide.

by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 1:57 PM
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by Kandice on Sep. 14, 2011 at 1:58 PM

Whole grains: Hearty options for a healthy diet

Find out why whole grains are better than refined grains and how to add more whole grains to your diet.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Grains, especially whole grains, are an essential part of a healthy diet. All types of grains are good sources of complex carbohydrates and some key vitamins and minerals. Grains are also naturally low in fat. All of this makes grains a healthy option. Better yet, they've been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and other health problems.

The healthiest kinds of grains are whole grains. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that at least half of all the grains you eat are whole grains. Chances are you eat lots of grains already. But are they whole grains? If you're like most, you're not getting enough whole grains in your diet. See how to make whole grains a part of your healthy diet.

Types of grains

Also called cereals, grains and whole grains are the seeds of grasses cultivated for food. Grains and whole grains come in many shapes and sizes, from large kernels of popcorn to small quinoa seeds.

  • Whole grains. These are unrefined grains that haven't had their bran and germ removed by milling. Whole grains are better sources of fiber and other important nutrients, such as selenium, potassium and magnesium. Whole grains are either single foods, such as brown rice and popcorn, or ingredients in products, such as buckwheat in pancakes or whole wheat in bread.
  • Refined grains. Refined grains are milled, a process that strips out both the bran and germ to give them a finer texture and extend their shelf life. The refining process also removes many nutrients, including fiber. Refined grains include white flour, white rice, white bread and degermed cornflower. Many breads, cereals, crackers, desserts and pastries are made with refined grains, too.
  • Enriched grains. Enriched means that some of the nutrients lost during processing are added back in. Some enriched grains are grains that have lost B vitamins added back in — but not the lost fiber. Fortifying means adding in nutrients that don't occur naturally in the food. Most refined grains are enriched, and many enriched grains also are fortified with other vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid and iron. Some countries require certain refined grains to be enriched. Whole grains may or may not be fortified.
by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 2:00 PM

I grew up on white bread but slowly changed to wheat bread in my mid-20s.  I hated wheat bread because I thought it tasted like cardboard but I grew to like it and only order and buy whole wheat.  My kids pretty much know only wheat bread and have never complained.

by Kandice on Sep. 14, 2011 at 2:02 PM

White Bread vs. Whole Wheat: Which Is Healthier?

Bread has stood the test of time as one of the most versatile staples of the westernized diet. This often lightweight goodie makes any dish seem better than before, so most meals are not prepared without it. Whether its alongside a salad, part of your sandwich or just an appetizer before you meal, bread comes in many forms, and in many variations. Its popularity is inarguable, so why not discuss its nutritional value? It is time to finally meet your bread!

Bread is most commonly classified into one of two categories: white and whole wheat. Whether it's a roll, a loaf or a bagel, it is sold in these two varieties. The white bread is easy to identify, with its white color. Wheat bread comes in different shades of brown, from very light to very dark, depending on the maker and the brand. Many people naturally gravitate toward white bread, because it looks clearer and softer - overall, it's typically more attractive. While it may look better, is white bread actually better for you? Here's what we know.

White Bread

White bread is made from the same wheat grain sources as wheat bread. The difference lies in what happens to it after that. For the white color, the grains have to be made into flour. To make flour, the bran and germ are separated from the endosperm at the flour mill. The mixture is sifted, and the endosperm collects as white flour.

So white flour is actually only a small part of wheat flour. This explains why whole wheat bread contains more nutrients than white bread. The white bread is missing key components that contribute to its overall health benefits. It's important to understand this when choosing healthy meals. As many bakers know, white flour is used extensively in cookie mixes, cakes and other desserts, because of its sweetness. So in essence, white bread is closer to a dessert than to a nutritious whole grain product.

In the food pyramid, bread and cereal make up the foundation of the ideal healthy diet. With white bread, however, this is not the case. White bread must be consumed sparingly, because it has very little nutritional value. Technically, it belongs at the top of the pyramid with other sweets. In other words, it is OK to eat, but only sparingly.

Whole Wheat Bread

With whole wheat bread, the name says it all. Whole wheat bread is whole bread. Unlike white bread, which takes part of the original grains out, whole wheat contains all parts of the bread. Nothing has been removed from the original flour, so all nutrients are still in tact.

These nutrients are extensive, and include the following:

  • Whole wheat bread is very high in fiber, which assists in the digestive process. Many people believe that it is a weight loss agent because of its bulking properties. In other words, it creates the feeling of being full within the body, decreasing hunger over the course of the day. It also helps to regulate the bowels.
  • Whole wheat is very high in vitamin B6, a vitamin that is part of protein synthesis. Uncommon in natural foods, vitamin B6 nourishes the nervous and immune systems.
  • Whole wheat is high in zinc, a mineral that works to improve the immune system. It commonly works with vitamin C within the body to help regulate cell function. Zinc is very helpful with skin and acne problems, and it has also been known to assist with scalp issues like dandruff.
  • Whole wheat is high in folate, a mineral that provides many health benefits, for women in particular. Studies have shown that women who consume folate have healthier pregnancies and fewer birth defects.
  • Whole what is high in chromium, a mineral that works in the metabolic process. It is often used to assist in the breakdown of fats and sugar metabolism.

Interesting Facts About Whole Wheat Bread

  • The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that consuming whole wheat is very effective in promoting weight loss.
  • Whole grains reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes. It is a very wise choice for those who are already suffering from diabetes, as well.
  • Whole grains may help to prevent gallstones.
  • It promotes gastrointestinal health.
  • Whole wheat bread is very helpful to those who have hypoglycemia.

White bread may not necessarily be unhealthy, at least when eaten in moderation. However, research indicates that whole wheat bread contains more nutrients than white bread. Whole wheat is a wiser choice for those who prefer a healthy diet, so the simple change from white to whole wheat bread in your diet could have enormous benefits in the long run.

by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 2:03 PM

 My kids have only ever ate whole wheat bread, because that is what I ate growing up, so that is what I have always bought. Once I bought white on accident and my kids freaked out calling it "fake bread" LOL. DH grew up with white bread and it took him a long  time to adjust.

by Barbara on Sep. 14, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Quoting M4LG5:

I grew up on white bread but slowly changed to wheat bread in my mid-20s.  I hated wheat bread because I thought it tasted like cardboard but I grew to like it and only order and buy whole wheat.  My kids pretty much know only wheat bread and have never complained.

I grew up on whole wheat bread, and I didn't like it. I'm not sure if the bread has changed over the years or if it's what my parents would buy. It was so dense, but I buy a lot of whole grain and whole wheat breads that taste great.

So I can relate to your story.

by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 2:18 PM

All we eat is 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain. I look at the ingredient list and if is says anything about enriched flour, then we don't eat it.

by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 2:21 PM

I also grew up eating white bread and honestly can't remember when I switched. My daughter has only ever had whole wheat bread and never complained. I do think White seems "fresher/softer" though.

by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 2:53 PM

I'm a white bread kinda gal. I go through phases of wheat or whole grain but I just can't stick with it. My kids will eat whatever.

by Jenna on Sep. 14, 2011 at 2:57 PM

 I can't remember the last time we had white bread in the house. I prefer wheat, my boys will eat whatever we have.

by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 3:41 PM
i prefer whole grain, it makes me kinda upse that wic wont allow whole grain, its even better than whole wheat. It makes no sence
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