Bread has been a basic food staple since before recorded history. It’s origins go back to Mesopotamia and Egypt where wheat was most likely chewed and eaten, until it was discovered that it could be crushed and pulverized into a paste and set over a fire that turned it into flat bread.
Around 1000 BC yeast was introduced and a new strain of wheat was developed that allowed for refined white bread. Bread has continued to be an important, nutritious food. Considered the “staff of life”, it sustained the poor through the dark ages and has been a basic staple for meals throughout it’s history.
All breads have nutritional value; some more than others.
An average slice of whole wheat bread contains 69 percent carbohydates, 15 percent fat and 16 percent protein. It also contains several minerals. Iron; folic acid; B6 and three B vitamins; copper; magnesium; zinc; chromium and vitamin E make it a nutrient dense food; high in fiber.
Having white bread in one’s house once was a sign of wealth, but the joke was on the wealthy because white bread is nutritionally inferior to darker types of bread.
In Janice White’s article: “Why White Bread Is Bad For You”, she states:
“Refined white flour is produced from the whole wheat grain which is then subjected to the refining process which removes all traces of the husk, or bran and along with it all the goodness contained in the grain. It is then bleached using chemical bleaching agents which contain chlorine and dried in kilns at high temperature to kill any remaining beneficial constituents.”
Yet, white bread still has some nutritional value and offers a low fat and low calorie option for sandwiches and other uses. It contains very little protein, however.
The flour for both wheat and white breads is made from wheat berries. The wheat berry contains three nutrient-rich parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. Whole wheat is processed to include all three nutritious parts, but white flour uses only the endosperm.
When flour is refined, it loses the most nutritious parts of the grain which is the fiber, essential fatty acids, and most of the vitamins and minerals. About 30 nutrients are removed. There’s so little fiber left after processing that you’d have to eat eight pieces of white bread to get the fiber in just one piece of whole wheat bread.
White bread uses only the endosperm; greatly limiting it’s nutritional value. Janice White also stated: “if you want to improve your health, lose some weight and avoid the possibility of ending up with type II diabetes, then white bread will have to go.”
Lisa Barley in her article: “Wheat Bread vs. White Bread” states: “In a 10-year Harvard study completed in 1994, men and women who ate high-fiber breads had fewer heart attacks and strokes. Simply switching from white to whole wheat bread can lower heart disease risk by 20 percent, according to research from the University of Washington reported in the April 2, 2003 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.”
The difference between white whole-wheat bread and regular whole-wheat bread is in the type of wheat used. White whole-wheat bread is made with white wheat, which lacks bran color.
With whole wheat flour, the grain has been put through a refining process which has removed some of the nutritional value. In contrast, whole grain flour has not gone through this refining process, and maintains it’s level of nutrients.
Mayo Clinic nutritionist, Kathryn Zeratsky stated in her article: “Is white whole-wheat bread Healthy?”:
“When you’re selecting any kind of bread, read the label carefully. Choose breads that list “whole” grain as the first ingredient, such as whole wheat, white whole wheat or whole oats. If the label doesn’t say “whole” first, it isn’t a whole-grain product.”
Many people still like to eat white bread because of it’s milder taste and softness. Once in awhile isn’t bad, yet whole grain is most nutritious and much better for one’s health. Therefore, it is in the best interest of a person’s health to make the transition to eating whole grain wheat bread.