What's good about wheat bread?

I know that wheat bread is supposed to be healthier than white bread. But I also remember reading that this is only the case in certain cases, and that a bread can be called “wheat bread” and not have the stuff that’s supposed to be healthy. But now I can’t recall what the deal was. Was it supposed to be whole grain wheat? Or is it the dietary fiber content that’s important?

I checked the bread the other day, and found that most of them had as much fiber (or less) than a standard loaf of white bread, with the exception of Wonder Lite Wheat (which was a bit of a surprise to me) which had significantly more (4g, compared to 1 or 0 in most others).


Taste and texture, in my opinion. White bread forms little doughballs in my mouth and sticks to my teeth. Gets soggy more easily too.

Don’t have a link offhand, but the answer to your question is, “Nuthin’.”

According to labeling rules, they can call it “wheat bread” even though it may not have any more bran (which is the good stuff) than white bread. They put caramel coloring in “wheat bread” to make it that nice “healthful” brown color, but it’s basically the same food substance as white bread. If they want to sell truly whole wheat bread, with the germ and bran and all, then they call it “whole wheat bread”. Just plain “wheat bread” is a legal scam. Makes Mom feel good that she’s not feeding her kids that nasty white bread.

Look at http://www.mum.org
that has some information. Various things or nothing was used. In the 1889 Sears catalog there were pads.

Trivia: Lysol used to be used as a douche! (ouch)

I don’t like wheat bread since it tastes like sawdust. I like my bread white, soft and exceedingly bland.

We Norwegians like our foods white: Mayo, Wonder bread, meatballs with cream sauce, lefse, mashed potatoes, and lutefisk.

Well, the lutefisk part is just a joke we play on people. We don’t eat that shit; we just see how many suckers we can get to try it by claiming it’s edible.

So, Duck, if I find something called “Whole Wheat Bread,” it should theoretically be better. But better why? Is it the dietary fiber I mentioned? Or something else?

BTW, in case anybody’s wondering, I’m betting that lee’s message was supposed to be in the thread about Kotex:

I’ve run into quite a few folks who had a pretty dogmatic view of the entire thing - “None of that white bread in my house.” My further question then, extending the OP, is this:

Is white bread in any way bad for you?

Listening to the wheat bread militants, you get the feeling that white bread is downright toxic. I rather doubt that, but just thought I’d ask. :slight_smile:

I’m looking for something beyond the obvious answer - that white bread, having no bran and germ, is “less good” and, therefore, also “more bad” than whole wheat. Zero nutritional value is OK - does the stuff actually harm you?

David B, I assume you’re referring to the “Wonder” type of white bread. “Balloon Bread” as we affectionately call it.
There are many very good breads that are white, or at least light in color. Sourdough is one. So is rye, I guess. I’m lucky to have an excellent bread shop (Acme Breads) in my neighborhood. Best baguettes in the world.
I like all breads, except the airy, supermarket type. White or brown.
Nutritionally, I guess they can add enough stuff to make any bread good for you.
I’m certainly not militant about it, though. Hell, I’ll fix you a Wonder bread, bologna, and mayo sandwitch, if you like. It’s your tummy. :slight_smile:

I’ve always followed in lock-step to the word on the street, that wheat bread is healthy and white bread comes from the devil.

I’ve followed this so closely that, although I used to eat white bread as a kid, I can’t touch the stuff anymore. Can’t stand the taste.

But what, exactly, is the difference that makes one so much better than the other (if, indeed, it actually is)?

But as a serious “breadhead,” it’s taste and texture.

I’ll eat any kind, but I prefer those with some taste: “whole wheat,” French, sourdough, pumpernickel, rye. . . .

You name it, I’ll eat it.

But I don’t particularly care for plain white bread. Taste and texture just too uninteresting.

(Who cares about this nutritional stuff, anyway?)

Quoting Marie Antoinette, “Let y’all eat cake…” :wink:

In case you missed it, the role of fiber in our diets has recently been drastically downplayed. It still helps keep you regular, but the reason that dietary fiber became all the rage several years ago is that it was thought to greatly reduce the risk of colon cancer.

This was a logical assumption, since populations in areas who eat diets with lots of fiber get colon cancer at a much reduced rate compared to richer, more industrialized countries. However, a recent study indicates that fiber plays no role in reducing cancer risk.

A team of Harvard researchers looked at data from the Nurses Health Study (a large-scale database keeping track of all sorts of lifestyle factors and incidence of disease, with over one million nurses participating), and found no reduced cancer risk from a high-fiber diet. The study was published earlier this year in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Wheat bread is just like white bread in that both flours can be processed to death. I forget the word that you want to look for on the label… it’s early in the morning and I haven’t had my coffee yet. What you want to look for in your bread [for those illiterate types] are whole grains
that give you “roughage”. That’s the stuff that’s called fiber. The more you see, the more you can eat.

Concerning the benefits of fiber and/or roughage, it’s my understanding that there is a benefit in lowering cholesterol as well. I’m not a nutritionist so that’s a WAG for the moment.

I don’t guess we’ve given a succinct answer to the original question.

First, we have to be clear with our terms. “White bread” is also “wheat bread” - that is, bread made from wheat flour. The distinction people are usually talking about when they say “wheat” in this context is “whole wheat”.

Whole wheat flour uses the entire wheat kernel, including the bran and germ. White flour has the bran and germ removed, for ease of storage and processing, and because many people demand a smooth, light-textured bread.

You have to shop carefully to know what you’re getting, because the labeling is confusing. Often bread is labeled “wheat bread” when it’s just white bread with brown food coloring in it (or sometimes it just comes in a colored wrapper.) You also sometimes have bread labeled “whole wheat bread” when it has a little whole wheat flour in it, even though most of the flour is still white flour.

You need to look for “100% whole wheat” if you want true whole wheat bread. There are several national brands that have 100% whole wheat bread available, and these have a very appealing taste and texture.

As for what makes it better, the main thing is the added fiber from the bran - this is beneficial and most people in our society don’t get enough of it.

You may hear other claims, having to do with the inclusion of the wheat germ, or the lack of bleaching. These don’t have much to back them up so far.

While the statements above are accurate, it would be wise to keep a couple of things in mind. First, the word “indicates” in the first sentence is important, and is not synonymous with “proves.” Second, the fact that a study is published in The New England Journal of Medicine does not make it gospel. I’m sure that CurtC was not trying to imply either of these things, I just wanted to clarify.

In the April issue of The University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, a publication that takes a common-sense approach to heatlh and wellness and does not promote any one particular method of health maintenance without a substantial amount of supporting evidence, the study mentioned above was discussed in an article. As the newsletter is copyrighted material, I can’t cut and paste it here in its entirety. I’ll quote a few sentences instead, and hope it’s not too much. I’d provide a link, but you have to be a subscriber to get to the archived articles.

"In an editorial accompanying the article, Dr. John Potter of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle pointed out that the link between diet and colon cancer is extremely complex. In fact, this is not the first study to call the fiber/colon-cancer link into question. In one review of 39 studies that looked at overall fiber intake, 26 found a protective effect against colon cancer, but the rest did not. Other factors may be involved, and researchers have yet to sort everything out.

"The idea that fiber protects against colon cancer was first proposed many years ago when researchers found that Africans who ate diets very high in fiber had a low incidence of colon cancer. Since then dozens of studies have supported the protective role of fiber.

"It seems unlikely that all these ideas must be discarded. But as Dr. Potter observed, we have “barely begun” to understand the connections between diet and colon cancer.

“Even if it should turn out that fiber plays no protective role against colon cancer, we know that foods rich in fiber—fruits, vegetables, and unrefined grains—are important sources of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.”

As far as David B.'s original question, that last paragraph mentions the other reason (besides fiber) that whole wheat bread is supposed to be better for you. But, as charizard pointed out, you have to look for “100% whole wheat” bread: bread can be labeled “whole wheat” when it only has a minimum of x% whole wheat flour, where x is some small number that I can’t remember right now.

Sorry if the excerpts are too long, or if I messed up the vB code, or if quoting is out of style; it’s been eons since I’ve posted.


I’ll agree with Mjollnir that bread is better with some flavor to it: I usually get whole wheat, and I would get sourdough if my store carried it. I never really assumed there was any nutritional difference-- Most breads sold nowadays are heavily fortified with most of the stuff you need, anyway.

OK, Whole wheat bread has marginally more b vitamins & fiber. White bread is primarily a good source of complex carbos, as is wheat bread. White bread is NOT bad for you, but it is kinda “empty calories”. (Note, before the FDA, there was a LOT of crap in stuff like machine process bread, incluing chalk, lye, etc, that stuff WAS bad for you, and home made bread, usu “wheat” was good for you. A hundred years ago, tho).

Wonder lite has a lot of added fiber, as do some of those “kid” breads. Good if you do not get enuf fiber, as few do. If your kids want “Wonder Bread@” try them on “Iron Kids@” or whatever is the equiv, as they have more fiber & vitamins than whole wheat, but taste like “wonder”.

There are some nut cases that say you need the “vitalism” in bread with the “wheat germ” (germ as in germ of life). Altho wheat germ is pretty good for you, that “vitalism” crap is just that. Some claim “bleaching”, as in “unbleached white flour” is bad for you, and unbleached is good for you. No significant difference on any scientific scale. The same people that say “white bread is poison”, also say the same about white sugar, but tout brown sugar or honey. From a nutritional standpoint, both are just slightly impure sugar. You would have to eat POUNDS of honey to get any nutrients out of it, except the sugar.

There are some specialty breads, usu by local bakeries, with organic whole grains & stuff, that really ARE slightly better for you, but they are not to everyones taste, and they can be expensive. Try a few, tho.

Sourdough is no different, nutritionally, than just white bread; tasty, tho, and keeps fresher longer.

Ther is no question that we need more fiber, and that it IS good for you. Might not be the “silver bullet” against colon cancer, tho.

I’ve noticed, at least in some television advertisements, when some type of breads are advertised, there’s a quick message on the screen, “The source of the fiber is wood.”
Next time I’m in the store I’ll actually look for the high fiber bread and see if sawdust is listed as an ingredient.

What a lot of people are unaware of is that the definition of “dietary fiber” is basically “that part of our food that our bodies can’t digest.” It turns out that even this part of our food is important to the proper functioning of our digestive tract, though. It absorbs water, providing bulk to the stool for proper elimination of wastes.

There are two subclasses of fiber, “soluble” (dissolves in water) and “insoluble” (doesn’t). Soluble fiber seems to have an additional protective effect on the heart, by drawing cholesterol out of the blood and carrying it out of the body in the stool.

Wheat bran is a type of insoluble fiber. When the white bread companies realized that people were getting wise to the fact that their bread was lacking fiber, they decided to put some back in. But all they really wanted was the cheapest thing that would allow them to put “x grams of fiber” on the package.

So, yes, they literally add sawdust to the bread. Technically, it’s a type of insoluble fiber.