Why 100% whole wheat bread is usually a healthier choice than white bread
- Whole wheat
breadis made from all components of the grain — the bran, germ, and endosperm — whereas white bread is made from refined flour and only retains the endosperm.
- As a result, 100% whole wheat bread is usually healthier than white bread, as it contains more fiber, has a higher nutritional value, and may have fewer calories.
- However, white bread may be a better choice if you have a GI or digestive
healthcondition, as the lower amount of fiber can be easier on your stomach.
- This article was medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD,
nutritionand wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City.
There's a variety of bread out there to choose from, but two of the most common types are white bread and whole wheat bread. While they are both made from grains, there are key health differences between the two types of bread due to the way that they're made.
Here's what you need to know about the differences between white bread and whole wheat bread, as well as which one is healthier for you.
The difference between wheat bread and white bread
Whole wheat bread and white bread are processed differently, which leads to a difference in nutritional content. Here's how they are made:
- Whole wheat bread is traditionally made from wheat that has all components of the grain — the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. This allows the bread to retain healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Just be sure to opt for a product that says 100% whole wheat, or else the product may be made partly with refined flour.
- White bread is made from refined flour, which goes through a milling process to remove the bran and the germ, says Stacey Pence, registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. When it goes through this process, many of the beneficial nutrients are removed from the flour. Only the starchy endosperm remains, which is low in nutritional value.
Is wheat bread or white bread healthier?
Whole wheat bread is generally a healthier option than white bread, although there may be some cases where you might want to opt for a lower-fiber option. Here's what you need to know about the health differences between the two bread choices.
Whole wheat bread contains more nutrients, but white bread may be fortified with vitamins: Since 100% whole wheat bread has all three components of the grain, it typically has a higher nutritional value than white bread. This is because the bran and the germ have richer concentrations of vitamins and minerals than the endosperm.
For example, the bran is the grain's major source of:
Plus, the germ contains:
However, white bread is often made with enriched flour, Pence says, which means that nutrients such as B vitamins and iron are added back into the flour after it goes through the refining process. This may increase the nutrition of white bread — if you're buying it, make sure you opt for one that includes enriched flour.
Whole wheat bread may have fewer calories: As for calorie content, whole-wheat bread typically has fewer calories than white bread. This can be beneficial if you are restricting calories and looking to lose a few pounds or better manage your weight.
Whole wheat bread has more fiber: Another nutritional difference between white bread and whole wheat bread is that whole wheat bread has more fiber. White bread usually contains about 1 gram or less of dietary fiber per serving, and 100% whole wheat contains around 3 or 4 grams of dietary fiber. Again, specific values will vary brand by brand.
Fiber is beneficial for our overall health, as it can aid digestive health, relieve constipation, and help improve blood sugar, Pence says.
White bread may be a better choice if you have digestive issues: "Eating 100% whole wheat bread is a healthier option for most people — unless you are having a flare-up of a GI condition, such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gastroparesis, and diverticulitis or are suffering from diarrhea, then you may need to follow a lower fiber
This is because some GI conditions are aggravated by high-fiber foods, causing further GI discomfort. For example, if you have diarrhea, having a lot of fiber in your diet may further increase the frequency of stools.
The bottom line
Whole wheat bread is usually a healthier choice than white bread since it has more fiber and fewer calories. Pence recommends looking for labels that say 100% whole wheat to make sure you're getting all the health benefits. Whole wheat flour should also be the first ingredient listed. If you do decide to opt for white bread, look for "enriched flour" on the label to make sure you're getting a good amount of nutrients.
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