White vs. wheat vs. whole-grain bread

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The dozens of different bread types can make the choice of what to eat somewhat difficult. Mitchell Larsen, a junior at BYU, said, “I like the taste of white bread better, but I usually try to go for wheat bread because it is known to be more healthy.”

Slices of white bread and wheat bread ready to be eaten. (Maddi Dayton)
Slices of white bread and wheat bread ready to be eaten. (Maddi Dayton)

It is often said that wheat bread is better for people than white bread, or that whole-grain bread is healthier than wheat bread. But what does all of that mean?

The grain kernel in bread can be broken down into three parts; the bran, the germ and the endosperm or starch.

Whole grain bread keeps all three parts of the kernel, which saves the healthy nutrients and vitamins. These include vitamin E, zinc and essential fatty acids. When white bread is made the bread manufacturers strip the bran and germ, leaving only the starch for consumption.

Wheat bread, on the other hand, doesn’t have those nutrients either, unless specified in the ingredients as having “whole-wheat” grains. Wheat bread can be deceiving because of its brown color. Often it is simply infused with caramelized color, as seen in many ingredient labels.

“Enriched” bread is the term used when some of the nutrients that were stripped in the bread-making process is added back into the flour.

Keilah Martinez, a health coach at Brigham Young University, advised against enriched bread. “This type of bread  is commonly mistaken to have all the nutrients put back in,” she said, “when usually only a small percentage of those vitamins and minerals are actually added.”

Martinez also discussed what to look for on ingredient labels at the store. “You want to be looking for 100 percent whole wheat, oat or grain,” Martinez said. “That’s how you will know you are buying the best kind for you.”

 

 

 

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