The Dish on Whole Grains
How to Spot the Real Wheat Bread from the Pretenders
It’s easier and easier to find wheat options of our favorite breads and snacks in supermarkets and restaurants as percentages of wheat bread vs. white bread consumption rise. What appears like a major leap in whole-grain consumption however, turns out to be a bit too good to be true. Many of the wheat bread products on the market are not true whole wheat breads, making them little more nutritionally than white breads in disguise. Here’s how to spot the real whole grains from the fakes:
What to Look For
If it’s real whole-grain bread you should see “whole wheat,” “whole grain corn,” “100% rolled oats,” or other terms that clearly specify the inclusion of “whole” grain ingredients. Usually whole wheat flour is used in whole grain breads and cereals may include oats or whole grain corn. Make sure that the whole grain is the first ingredient–some cereals advertise that they are “made with whole grains” on the front of the package but when you look at the ingredients the whole grains added are low down on the ingredient list, which means that they are not added in large quantities.
“Honey Wheat,” “Country Wheat,” “Mulitgrain Bread,” or simply “Wheat Bread,” may throw in some specks of grains to appear healthier (or add some high-fructose corn syrup to help give the bread a healthful-looking brown color) but are not necessarily much different nutritionally from white bread. Some of these products may be made with whole wheat flour, but the only way to really tell is to check the ingredient list. “Enriched wheat flour” is not the same as “whole wheat flour.”
Why not? While whole grains are good sources of fiber and many essential vitamins and minerals, only a few of the vitamins lost during processing (turning whole grains into refined ones) are added back to enriched flour. None of the minerals contained in whole grain bread are added back except for iron.
Whole-Grain Bread Perks
- A slice of whole-wheat bread usually has about 2x the fiber of a slice of enriched wheat or white bread
- Whole-grains are good sources of vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, zinc, fiber and phytochemicals (refined grains are poor sources of these nutrients)
Want to learn more? Check out the Whole Grain Council website here.