There are numerous types of bread available, but two of the most popular are white bread and whole wheat bread. While both are made from grains, the way the two types of bread are made has a significant impact on their health.
Here’s everything you need to know about the differences between white and whole wheat bread, as well as which is healthier.
What is the distinction between wheat and white bread?
Whole wheat bread is processed differently than white bread, resulting in a difference in nutritional content. How they are made is as follows:
Whole wheat bread is traditionally made with wheat that contains all of the grain’s components — bran, germ, and endosperm. This method preserves the bread’s beneficial fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Simply choose a product that states it is made entirely of whole wheat; otherwise, the product may contain some refined flour.
According to Stacey Pence, registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, white bread is made from refined flour that has been milled to remove the bran and germ. Many of the flour’s beneficial nutrients are removed during this process. Only the starchy endosperm is left, which is nutritionally deficient.
Which is healthier, wheat bread or white bread?
While whole wheat bread is generally a healthier option than white bread, there may be instances when a lower-fiber option is preferable. Here’s what you need to know about the health benefits of the two types of bread.
While whole wheat bread contains more nutrients, white bread may be vitamin-fortified: Because whole wheat bread contains all three components of the grain, it typically contains more nutrients than white bread. This is because the bran and germ have higher vitamin and mineral concentrations than the endosperm.
For example, the bran is the grain’s major source of: Fiber, B vitamins, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc
Plus, the germ contains: B vitamins, Vitamin E, Antioxidants
However, Pence notes that white bread is frequently made with enriched flour, which means that nutrients such as B vitamins and iron are added back into the flour after it has been refined. This may improve the nutritional value of white bread; if you purchase it, make sure it contains enriched flour.
Whole wheat bread has the potential to contain fewer calories: In terms of calories, whole-wheat bread typically contains fewer than white bread. This can be advantageous if you are restricting calories and attempting to lose a few pounds or manage your weight more effectively.
For instance, a major supermarket brand’s white bread may contain 120 calories, while its 100 percent whole wheat bread contains approximately 100 calories. Calorie differences between brands will vary.
Whole wheat bread contains more fiber: Another nutritional distinction between white and whole wheat bread is the presence of fiber in whole wheat bread. White bread typically contains less than 1 gram of dietary fiber per serving, whereas 100% whole wheat bread contains 3 to 4 grams of dietary fiber per serving.Again, brand-specific values will vary.
Fiber is beneficial to our overall health because it can help with digestive health, constipation relief, and blood sugar control, according to Pence.
If you have digestive issues, white bread may be a better choice: “Eating 100 percent whole wheat bread is a healthier option for the majority of people — unless you are experiencing a flare-up of a GI condition such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, gastroparesis, or diverticulitis, or are experiencing diarrhea, in which case you may need to follow a lower fiber diet and choose more refined grains,” Pence explains.
This is because certain gastrointestinal conditions are exacerbated by high-fiber foods, resulting in additional GI discomfort. For instance, if you have diarrhea, increasing your fiber intake may result in an increase in stool frequency.
Whole wheat bread is typically a healthier option than white bread due to its higher fiber content and lower calorie count. Pence advises consumers to look for labels that state “100% whole wheat” to ensure they are receiving all of the health benefits. Additionally, whole wheat flour should be listed as the first ingredient. If you do choose white bread, look for the term “enriched flour” on the label to ensure that you are getting an adequate amount of nutrients.