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Despite its popularity, a slice of white bread is a particularly unhealthy thing to put into your body. To make it they strip the wheat grain of almost all of its nutrients and fiber, often bleach it with toxic chlorine dioxide, potassium bromate or benzoyl peroxide and then further treat the lifeless refined starch with chemicals such as AZ carbonamide, polyoxymethylene monostearate and ammonium chloride.
Now virtually devoid of anything resembling nutrition, the resulting flour is made into a bread that is, in a digestive sense, more similar to table sugar than the whole wheat grain and your body treats it as such.
Most white bread made from refined wheat flour gives nothing to your body. In fact, not only is it a premier weight gain food, you’ll actually require more enzymes, vitamins and minerals from the other foods you eat just to deal with digesting it. Given all of this, it would make sense to switch to brown bread or multigrain right? Unfortunately not.
In some extremely lazy manufacturing, but inspired marketing, much of the ‘brown’ bread you’ll find in the supermarket is simply the same white bread with brown coloring, often caramel, added back into it. Hardly the healthier choice it’s made out to be.
Likewise, ‘wholemeal’ bread with a bit of chemically treated wheat germ added back in, or ‘multigrain’, with a sprinkling of softened grains, hardly makes up for what the main ingredient – refined wheat flour – has gone through.
The Physical Difference:
All bread is made from wheat flour. Each grain of wheat flour is made of 3 sections: the endosperm, germ, and bran. The endosperm is the large center of the grain which contains starch and protein. At one end of the endosperm is the germ—this is the area that sprouts when it’s germinated. It contains many vitamins, minerals and some oil. Both the endosperm and germ are covered by the bran, which contains the fiber and other nutrients.
The flour in white bread is more highly processed than that in whole wheat bread. During processing, the germ and bran of the wheat grain are removed, leaving only the white, starchy endosperm. Although the endosperm is the largest part of the grain, it contains the least nutrients. Whole wheat flour still has the germ and bran intact and therefore contains more nutrients (including fiber) than white flour.
The Nutritional Difference:
The bran in whole wheat flour provides fiber and the germ provides protein and Vitamin E. They also provide B-vitamins, magnesium, manganese, iron, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc. Whole wheat also contains a phytonutrient called plant lignans. Lignans have been found to have a protective effect against breast cancer and heart disease.
Oftentimes, white flour is “enriched”. This means that vitamins and minerals which were removed during processing are added back in synthetically. Thiamin, niacin, folate, and iron lost in the processing of white bread are required by the FDA to be added back to help avoid nutrient deficiencies.
Whenever you eat large amounts of refined carbohydrates like white bread, high levels of insulin are likely to be produced to deal with it. The hormone insulin shuttles away the rapidly absorbed sugars you’ve just eaten out of your bloodstream, where they present a danger to your body. It then converts them, first into glycogen and then into triglycerides for storage in your body’s fat cells.
While some fats eaten with a big carbohydrate meal may be stored as well, it’s the refined high glycemic foods like white bread that stimulate insulin production the most, leading to the optimal conditions for weight gain.
Sometimes the manufacturers will add back a few synthetically produced vitamins and minerals that your body has problems utilizing. They then claim that the bread is ‘enriched’. An ambitious term some might think after what they’ve done to it.
Did You Know?
Most of the mass-produced bread we eat is much less healthy than many people realize. Nutritionally empty, it promotes blood sugar rises, hunger and body fat storage and is playing a significant part in the obesity epidemic gripping western societies.
Unfortunately it’s not really about white bread vs brown bread. Ultimately wheat itself is likely to be the problem for many people when it comes to constant hunger, dramatic energy fluctuations and difficulty losing weight.
Whole grain, wheat-free breads like traditional rye and spelt bread are a much healthier option. They’re a little more and they are harder to find, but they’re definitely worth it if you value your health. Look around for one you like and when you find it get a couple of loaves and keep them in the freezer.
Remember though, even healthy breads like this are highly concentrated foods and are best eaten earlier in the day rather than in the evening and more as an occasional treat than a dietary staple. Many people notice a significant difference when they reduce grain based foods, particularly around their waistline and in their daily energy levels.