For years now white bread has been demonized. But is it really all that bad? Let’s look into it.
When white bread is put one on one with brown or whole wheat bread, it’s a nutritional mismatch. Whole wheat and Multi Grain bread are much higher in fiber, vitamins B6, magnesium, zinc and folic acid. Fiber being the big one here.
White bread is made up of mostly refined flour. And when flour is refined, it loses most of its nutrients, including fiber. Because of this, your body digests the bread rather quickly, causing a rise and fall in blood sugar. White bread also often contains added sugars & high fructose corn syrup. Not ideal.
It is natural to assume brown bread is the healthier option. Unfortunately, it isn’t true always. More often than not, brown bread is simply white bread with artificial coloring added to it or is caramelized. They essentially add no surplus nutritional value.
Similarly, Multigrain bread is no saint either. Multigrain bread can often mislead the consumers about its health impacts. Unlike whole wheat bread, multigrain bread is usually chemically treated with softened grains. This does not effectively recover the lost nutrients of the bread.
Understanding what’s in the Bread
The core nutrients are the grains put into the making of the bread.
- Whole Grains 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, like selenium, potassium, and magnesium. You can also get Whole Grains in other foods such as brown rice and popcorn, or ingredients in products, such as buckwheat in pancakes or whole wheat in bread.
- Refined Grains are milled, which strips out both the bran and germ, giving them a finer texture and extends 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 pieces of bread, cereals, crackers, desserts, and pastries are made with refined grains, too.
- Enriched Grains means that some of the nutrients lost during processing are put 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 do not occur naturally in the food. Most refined grains are enriched and are fortified with other vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid and iron.
The Better Kind of Bread
Whole wheat bread has more pronounced health benefits. It contains more wheat germ and fibers in comparison to the more processed varieties of bread. Having evaded the toxic additives, it has relatively healthier effects on our blood sugar levels.
Now does this mean “whole wheat” bread is the clear winner? From a nutritional standpoint, yes it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s the healthiest thing in the world either. Just because something says “whole wheat/grain” does NOT always mean it’s good for you.
Often times brown bread are made primarily with white flour, with just a little whole wheat flour mixed in. Many Brown” bread in the market are made with white bread, but with caramel food color added to it. It is always advisable to look for trusted brands with the Whole Wheat variety of Bread. The best is to learn to bake your own bread at home. But until the time you learn, you are better off sticking with Whole Wheat Bread.