White or Wheat?

America, we’ve flipped the balance! This year, for the first time ever (and by a narrow margin), sales* of wheat bread have surpassed sales of white bread in our country. Americans appear to be getting the message that whole grains are best and that wheat bread is healthier than white bread. Hurray for us!

But before we celebrate too heartily, let’s review a few important reminders that will help to ensure the wheat bread you are buying is actually a healthy one and not just white bread in disguise.

1 – It has to be 100% whole wheat (or whole other grain) bread, not just “wheat bread”. There is a huge difference between these two. Companies can label a bread as wheat bread even if it contains largely refined wheat flour (also knows as enriched flour). This is basically white flour in disguise – it doesn’t count as healthy.

2 – Beware the “whole grain” marketing hype. Calling it “Twelve Grain Super Health Nut Bread” does NOT make it healthy. Sorry marketers. A bread that states it “contains whole grains” or is “multigrain” is not necessarily a healthful choice. Net, claims on the front of the package aren’t very helpful and can even be misleading. So, instead….

3 – Let the nutrition label be your guide.  The only thing that matters is what’s really inside the package…and that information is found only on the nutrition label. Check out the first few ingredients – one of them should be 100% whole wheat. And one of them should not be sugar (or a pseudonym for sugar). Check the fiber content – you’re looking for at least 3g fiber/slice…there are brands with up to 6g/slice that are delicious.

Buying bread shouldn’t be difficult, despite the guidance above. Once you’ve done a little homework and found a brand that is healthful AND tastes good to you, you can simply and quickly buy that variety every time you shop. 

If you’d like to learn more, check out this article; it’s jam-packed (no pun intended) with even more info about how to choose a healthy bread.

*According to Nielsen Co. For the 52 weeks ended July 10, wheat bread sales increased 0.6 percent to $2.6 billion, while white bread sales declined 7 percent to $2.5 billion. White bread is still ahead in volume, but the margin is shrinking. Americans bought 1.5 billion packages of white bread in the last year, a 3 percent decrease, and 1.3 billion packages of wheat bread, a 5 percent increase.

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