Health

Is white bread a villain and whole grain bread a superhero?

We have been told that foods made of complex carbohydrates are much better and healthier, because they contain a lot of vitamins, minerals and are also a good source of fibre. This is partially true, but when it comes to bread, the reality is not that clear. White bread is considered the villain in this story, while whole wheat bread is a superhero. But, things are not so black and white. They are almost the same!

Bread
Different types of bread in a bakery store

Understanding our bread

Most bread is made from either white (simple carbohydrates) or whole grain (complex carbohydrates) flour and both come from wheat. The first one is digested quickly and released into the bloodstream, provoking a spike in blood glucose level, because of its high Glycemic Index (GI), followed by a rapid release of insulin from the pancreas.

However, complex carbohydrates normally contain low GI and they are released slowly into the bloodstream. But even with this slower release, the impact on blood sugar levels will be almost the same causing a huge spike. Probably not as fast as it happens after simple carbohydrates are digested.

But what is the Glycemic Index 9 GI) ?

GI is a number from 0 to 100. It is assigned to a food that indicates how fast the body converts carbohydrates in that particular food into glucose. 55 or less is low GI, 56 to 69 is mid-range and higher than 70 is high GI. Thus, it seems like a better option to eat low GI food. But, there is another element to take in consideration, the Glycemic Load (GL). If the Glycemix Index measures carbohydrate quality, the Glycemix Load focuses on the amount (quantity) of a carbohydrate in a particular food. And again, the lower the number in GL, the better. Low GL is less than 10 points, medium between 11-19 and high over 20. My next post will be on how to understand GI vs GL.

One more time. Yes, both white and whole grain bread are made from wheat. However, for years and years, the population has been bombarded with a unique message: “Avoid simple carbohydrates bread and choose whole grain bread instead”. 

White bread
Unhealthy bread made with white flour and poor quality ingredients like sugar, e-numbers and preservatives

Any healthy option?

Is bread made of whole wheat a healthier option? No! At least, not from a blood sugar level point of view, because any type of carbohydrate in bread will raise blood sugar level due to the complex carbohydrate in grains called Amylopectin A. Yes, Amylopectin A is in whole grain bread too. However, there is not a lot of available literature around and even if you look, you will only find the ingrained myth: avoid simple carbohydrate bread and go for complex carbohydrate bread.

Whole grain bread
Unhealthy bread with more than ten ingredients such as wholemeal wheat flour, rapeseed and palm oil, sugars and e-numbers.

Amylopectin A is efficiently digested by the salivary and stomach enzyme amylase. It means that amylopectin A is rapidly converted to glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream,  provoking a spike in blood sugar levels. The infamous and unsuspecting silent killer spike. Therefore, a diet very rich in whole wheat bread can potentially lead to diabetes type 2, high blood sugars, heart disease or weight gain.

Other grains and wheat

What about other grains? Are they the same like wheat? Are they healthier or they also contain amylopectin A?  Unfortunately and against the common myth, most of them are close cousins. 

If you would like to experience the benefits of diet free from all grains, banish them gradually from your life and you will witness an unexpected weight loss and dramatic improvement in your health.

2 Comments

  • Nicholas Creswell

    This is really informative – thank you! Judging by your closing comments about all grains, it sounds like even Biona rye bread and that type of bread is also best avoided?

    • Juan Lainez

      Hello Nicholas,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Rye bread would be a better option than white bread, but listen to this: both are bad, but the white one is worse.

      It is true that you will find more vitamins, minerals and fibre in rye or whole grain bread, rather than in white bread.

      Rye whole grain bread is more nutritious than white wheat bread, because during milling process it is difficult to break down the endosperm, the germ and the bran.

      So, they keep all their goodness. However, most whole grain products are advertised as whole grain and they are not. They are mixed with white flour because its protein called secalins, which is a form of gluten, is not enough elastic enough for dough. You really need to pay attention to labels and moreover, restrict you daily intake of rye bread to 1or maximum 2 slices.

      White or whole grain bread will provoke a spike in your blood sugar levels. White bread will be higher, but whole grain won’t be far from white.

      Conclusion: both are bad, but the white one is really the worst of all.

      I would like to invite you to make a simple test at home. If you can get a diabetes test kit, you can easily test yourself. How? Very simple.

      1. Prepare 60 grams of white bread and 60 grams of whole grain bread.

      2. Test your blood sugar levels before you eat them. Make a note of your glucose levels.

      3. Eat 60g of whole grain bread. Test yourself again, 1 hour after you have eaten. Make a note of your new glucose levels.

      4. Eat 60g of white bread. Test yourself again, after 1 hour. Make a note. But, do this in another day.

      5. Probably you will be surprised at this point because your glucose levels notes may show really close figures. Probably,. for a non-diabetic or prediabetic people, whole grain bread will increase the blood sugar levels up to 180 and the white one will be somewhere similar.
      If you really need bread, do limit your daily intake. Maybe just one slice per day, maximum 2, as I mentioned before. It will be around 10g (1slice) of net carbohydrates.

      I hope it helps you to understand better the difference between white wheat and whole grain bread.

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