Do you spend extra money on whole wheat bread just because you think it’s healthier? Many people do. However, in most cases the bread you’re buying is no more or less healthy than white bread. While color used to be a great indicator of what bread is healthier, that’s not true anymore.
The fact is there’s a lot of bread labeled as “wheat” that simply has caramel added to it, thus changing the color. When you compare a wheat bread that’s had this coloring added to it with white bread, there’s no significant difference in nutritional value. You need to know what you’re looking for and why it matters.
Why It Matters
So basically, the original point of choosing wheat bread over white bread was because white flour is bleached. This means that it’s processed and the body will break it down quickly and spike your blood sugar. Food that isn’t overly processed will take longer to break down.
This is a good thing because the slower it takes to break it down, the more it gradually protects your blood levels from sugar spikes. Generally speaking, you don’t want sudden spikes in blood sugar because it knocks your metabolism off balance. This results in energy spikes and crashes, mood shifts and eventually, for some people, diabetes. But manufacturers began misleading consumers when they started coloring processed bread brown hoping we wouldn’t wise up. The color is no longer an indicator we can go by.
[ Photo Credits: protoflux’s Flickr ]
But It Says It’s “Enriched”
When flour is processed, including whole wheat bread, it loses the most vital parts of the fiber in it, such as essential fatty acids and about 30 vitamins and minerals. The fiber is the element that is so healthy because studies have proven that it guards against heart attack, stroke, obesity and diabetes. By law, the Food and Drug Administration declares that only 5 of these be added back.
Don’t Focus on Whole Wheat Bread Labels
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, what is called “whole grain” is any grain that has retained its basic form with these key health components intact after the milling process. Manufacturers can call a grain product “whole grain” if at least 51% of its grains are still intact. This is what you want because the grains’ structure still offers health benefits (having the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals) that your body needs.
The Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism recently did a study that revealed that sprouted grain bread improves blood sugar levels by lowering glucose response times and improving the activity of a hormone that’s highly influential to appetite regulation. As a result, sprouted grain bread, as opposed to whole wheat bread, improves your metabolism.
The Next Time You Buy Bread
The next time you go to the store, don’t let the word “wheat” or “whole wheat” fool you. It’s irrelevant. Read the ingredients on the label and choose a bread that contains either 100 whole grain or sprouted whole grains.
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