White Bread vs. Wheat Bread...Is one the healthier option?


| 6 Comments

whitewheat2.jpgWith so many "made-to-order" sandwich stations located in dining halls throughout campus, I am presented almost daily with the question: "white bread or wheat bread?"  Not really having a preference for either taste, I always select the "wheat" option because it's a generally-known fact that it's the healthier choice.  But after three weeks of repeatedly pressing the "wheat" button, I'm starting question: what exactly makes this option the healthier one?  And what advantages does it have for my body?

 

wheatberry.jpgI started with some online research to learn the answer to my first question.  The science behind what makes wheat options healthier actually appears quite simple.  All flour for bread is made with wheat berries that have three components: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.  When whole wheat products are processed, all three components of the wheat berry are kept intact for the final product.  When white bread is processed, the wheat berry is stripped of the bran and the germ and left only with the endosperm.  All three portions are filled with numerous minerals and nutritional components, so the removal of the bran and germ from the white bread leaves it with much less nutritional value than its wheat competitor.  To be specific, "whole wheat" breads and products will be higher in:

-Vitamin B6: good for your peripheral nerves, mucous membranes, skin, and circulatory system

-Vitamin E: works as an antioxidant that protects against body tissue damage

-Magnesium: mineral necessary for healthy bones and teeth, detoxification, energy production, body temperature regulation, and the transmission of nerve impulses

-Zinc: proper immune system functioning, the healing of acne and wounds, monitoring stress levels, diabetes control, energy and metabolism care, weight loss regulation, etc.!

And most importantly:

FIBER.

                The amount of fiber in wheat bread trumps the amount of white bread.  In fact, you would need to consume EIGHT PIECES of white bread to get the amount of fiber just ONE PIECE of wheat bread contains.  Fiber is an important component in our diets for so many reasons.  It aids in digestive health, reduces risk of heart disease by 20%, (University of Washington reported in the April 2, 2003 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association), and reduces the overall risk of heart attacks and strokes!  Fiber also aids in weight management because it keeps your stomach feeling fuller for a long amount of time.

Although both of the questions I presented in the first paragraph were answered after my research, I came across two bread red flags while reading up on this topic.

1. "Enriched" white bread: White bread claiming to be "enriched" does not make it anywhere near as healthful as the whole wheat option. Refining wheat to make white bread strips it of nearly thirty vitamins and minerals - and by "enriching" the bread, only about FIVE of these vitamins and minerals are being added back.

2. The darker, brown color we associate with whole wheat products does not indicate that the product is truly whole wheat. In some cases, a caramel coloring is added to darken the bread's appearance. In fact, Subway's wheat bread option is guilty of this! To avoid these faux-wheat products, look to the ingredient list. If whole wheat or whole grain is listed as the first ingredient (indicating it is the most abundant), the option is safe.

I have been making a smarter decision than I could have ever imagined by selecting the "wheat" option on those MTO screens! As for you, my fellow classmates, does this information have any effect on your choice of bread? Do you prefer one over the other? Do you think these reports on the health benefits of whole wheat options are even valid - or do you believe it be a bunch of unproven hype?

I think making the simple switch from white to wheat is a smart one. As we talked about in class after reading the article on lighting during sleep potentially playing a part in depression development, is the sacrifice worth the potential benefits? In this case, I would say yes. It's a small diet change and I don't detect much of a taste difference between the two options.

Choose wheat!

 

6 Comments

Megan, I enjoyed reading this blog. It was very complete and imformative, and one of the better blogs I have read.

I usually choose wheat bread when I have the option because, like you said, it does not taste much different and it is said to be healthier. I never knew why though. I now know that the extraction of the germ and bran is what not only makes white bread much lighter than wheat bread, but also not as beneficial to ones health.

My mom questioned me once why I would eat wheat bread since it usually has more calories then white bread. The answer to why it has more calories is that it basically has more substance. Wheat bread has 25 more nutrients than white bread, according to Mary Hartley, RD. The wheat bread conatins the germ and bran which causes this. It is a better choice for one's health because of this.

I thought this was a very informative blog post and written really well! White bread vs. wheat bread is such a smart topic to find answers to because like you said, there are multiple options of bread choices that surround us as we click ordering screens throughout campus. Just like you would do, I would automatically click wheat because of always hearing that it was healthier than white bread. Now, after reading your post, I believe it to be true! Before coming to Penn State, I would eat either bread, but if I was being honest, I would chose white more often than not. I decided to change that when I came to college because I wanted to do anything possible, no matter how small, to stay away from the infamous freshman 15 . I have now found that I actually like wheat bread/rolls and have even found white whole wheat to be delicious as well. As you have stated, it can be a pretty easy change to your diet by choosing wheat bread over any other. I definitely believe the facts that many researchers have put out and from the information you have stated in your blog, especially with the notion of the number of calories white bread has and the great source of fiber found in wheat bread. I don't know if it is just me, but I also feel better about myself after eating wheat bread because of the health facts that can back it up.

This was such a great blog and idea! I can't lie, I myself always choose wheat bread automatically because I've been told it's better for you but I had no idea why. This blog was so informative and you really used the information you researched well. I had no idea that wheat bread was so high in fiber and that to get that same amount of fiber of one piece of wheat bread you had to eat ten white bread pieces! That is a significant difference. To be honest, I feel like this an article that a lot of people should read just for informational purposes. So many people have no idea what they are truly consuming and putting in their bodies when they eat!

For whatever reason I can never get myself to eat wheat. However, after reading this I think that I will have to give it a try. Most people I know say there is little to no difference in the taste so why not choose the healthier option? I did not realize there was as much fiber in the wheat bread as there actually is. As a college student I really don't watch what I eat; but knowing that wheat is healthier, I will certainly add it to my diet.

I really liked this post as well. I think you made a good point in talking about whole wheat breads because many times breads may say wheat but don't contain all the nutrients of whole wheat bread. There are also other breads that people may be tricked into thinking are more healthy for you but in fact carry more calories with just about the same nutrient level as white breads. I can't remember what brand of bread it was, but I do remember comparing the nutrition facts for the whole wheat bread, the seven grain, and the white bread to each other. While the whole wheat still carried more calories than the white bread it was nothing compared to the seven grain. Yet the only distinct difference in the nutrients for the seven grain and white bread was two more grams of fiber in the seven grain.

I really liked this post as well. I think you made a good point in talking about whole wheat breads because many times breads may say wheat but don't contain all the nutrients of whole wheat bread. There are also other breads that people may be tricked into thinking are more healthy for you but in fact carry more calories with just about the same nutrient level as white breads. I can't remember what brand of bread it was, but I do remember comparing the nutrition facts for the whole wheat bread, the seven grain, and the white bread to each other. While the whole wheat still carried more calories than the white bread it was nothing compared to the seven grain. Yet the only distinct difference in the nutrients for the seven grain and white bread was two more grams of fiber in the seven grain.

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