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Whole Wheat vs. Wheat/ 9 Grain Bread

March 6, 2009

When I was in high school I went on a whole-grain kick!  I switched to brown rice, whole wheat pasta, kashi cereal and whole wheat bread( I was already eating a lot of these already but I became aware of their health benefits after reading an NYtimes article).  My parents were super supportive of my healthy changes but they would bring home wheat bread and 12-grain bread that was super low in fiber.  I had to show them how to read the ingredient list and look for Whole Wheat flour as the first ingredient (for those who don’t know, food products list ingredients in order from greatest to least, so the first few ingredients make up most of the food).  Who would think you can find three similar loaves; one that says wheat bread, one says nine-grain and one that reads 100% whole wheat, that all look healthy(brown) and yummy.  There is a big difference between those breads.  The wheat bread is actually just white flour that hasnt been bleached yet.  All the goodness of the whole grain wheat, like the fiber and vitamins has been stripped away.  Go ahead, read the nutrition panel on a piece of wheat bread; the fiber content is tiny!  Some multi-grain breads are also low in fiber, the first ingredient being enriched wheat flour.  however, some 9/7/12 grain breads are really healthy you just need to read the labels first to make sure you are getting a good brand. Fiber helps us stay full, is heart healthy and good for the digestive tract, so it’s very important to get enough in the diet, 25-30 grams a day is recommended and far from where the average American stands.    So check the nutrition facts and look for at least 3 g fiber per slice and the first ingredient to be whole wheat.

** many people confuse wheat with healthy.  But if there isn’t the word WHOLE in front of it, it’s just like white flour.

I’ve also recently noticed a lot of whole grain white breads, or white whole wheat breads which only adds to the confusion of bread shopping.  From what I can tell they seem to be either white bread with some fiber added back in or a blend of white and whole wheat flours to give a lighter wheat taste.  I’m sure it varies from brand to  brand.

By the way, both my parents are now excellent bread buyers.  My dad even reads the labels to make sure his bread is free of High Fructose Corn Syrup(HFCS)! Go dad!  He’s also currently taking care of me right now, thanks!

I find fiber to be a topic of high importance given that I am currently taking 2 different pain medications.  They are doing wonders for my ACL pain(although it’s still there!!!) but both list constipation as a major side effect(yuck).  But for those of you not in recovery, fiber is still super important!

p.s. fiber is also found in fruits, veggies, and other whole grains!

p.p.s. fiber is also turning up EVERYWHERE from cereal bars to water to yogurt…haven’t tried that yet but maybe it’s good? I think I’ll stick to my whole wheat bread for now.

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