White Bread vs. Wheat Bread | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

White Bread vs. Wheat Bread

I know whole wheat bread and white bread are different, but how exactly? 

There are two big differences: how they’re processed and how healthful they are. The flour
for both is made from wheat berries, which have three nutrient-rich parts: the bran (the outer layers), the germ (the innermost area) and the endosperm (the starchy part in between). Whole wheat is processed to include all three nutritious parts, but white flour uses only the endosperm. When put head-to-head with whole wheat bread, white is a nutritional lightweight. Whole wheat is much higher in fiber, vitamins B6 and E, magnesium, zinc, folic acid and chromium.
But of all these nutritional goodies, fiber is the star:

*In a 10-year Harvard study completed in 1994, men and women who ate high-fiber breads had fewer heart attacks and strokes than those whose tastes ran to bagels and baguettes.

*Simply switching from white to whole wheat bread can lower heart disease risk by 20 percent, according to research from the University of Washington reported in the April 2, 2003
issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. 

*Fiber has long been known to aid digestive health too.

*Fiber can help you lose or maintain weight because eating fiber-dense wheat bread helps you feel full.

But a lot of white bread is enriched. Doesn’t that take care of the nutrients lost during refining?

Nope. When flour is refined, it loses the most nutritious parts of the grain—the fiber, essential fatty acids, and most of the vitamins and minerals. In fact, about 30 nutrients are removed, but
by law only five must be added back (though others often are): iron, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin and folic acid. There’s so little fiber left after processing that you’d have to eat eight pieces of white bread to get the fiber in just one piece of whole wheat bread.

Other foods besides whole grains have fiber and nutrients. Can’t I just get what I need from them and still enjoy my dinner rolls?

Whole grains provide health benefits that other foods don’t. In a Harvard study of 75,000 nurses, those who ate at least three servings a day of whole grains cut their heart attack risk by 35 percent and were less likely to get into weight or bowel trouble. By contrast, those who ate more processed foods—such as white bread, white rice and sodas—were more than twice as likely to develop diabetes. “Science continues to support the key role of whole grains in reducing chronic illnesses,” says Len Marquart, professor of nutrition at the University of Minnesota and author of the first health claim for whole grains approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

How can I tell if bread is really whole wheat?

Color used to be a clue, but no more. Although white bread is white because it’s been bleached, some dark bread has just had caramel coloring added to it. Look for “whole grain” or “whole wheat” as the first ingredient on the label. If any other ingredient is first, put the loaf back and keep looking.

Is bread a vegan food?

Not usually. Many of the breads sold in grocery stores contain non-vegan ingredients, including milk, eggs, honey, shortening or whey—not to mention sodium stearyl lactylate, glycerides, emulsifiers, natural flavorings, artificial flavorings and lactase, all of which may be derived from animals. Vegans often have better luck at bakeries but still need to ask if the bread pans are greased with animal fat. If you like to bake, you can make your own bread. But if that doesn’t interest you, try Rudi’s Organic, Nature’s Path or Brownberry’s—they all produce vegan breads available nationwide.

Comments on this Article

White bread (non-fresh) always tasted disgusting to me. I thought I just didn't like bread until I tried real 100% whole grain bread. I don't even need cheese or mayo on my sandwiches anymore because the bread is so flavorful.

Spot on amy58, (Feb 18, 2012). I eat the grainiest whole grain bread I can find, it's so yummy and good for you. I love the crispy crust, soft inside and loaded with grains and seeds style. I love to cover two peices in sliced banana then drizzle honey or agave nectar/syrup over it. Mmmm, best snack ever. The bonus is that it's a healthy, sweet, low GI meal so you get your "sugar fix" plus feel full for longer afterwards. I don't know what kind of whole grain bread you Americans have over there but here in Australia ours is delicious. Or maybe you just haven't tried the right one? I know that whenever I eat white bread (which is very rarely) I get all bloated, farty and constipated. It's gross and can't be good for me. I feel brilliant and normal eating grainy bread. It's usually better from a bakery too, supermarket varieties tend to have more artificial additives and preservatives in it.

In the middle point you find the sage way

White flour has killed millions of people! Save your life, and eat whole wheat bread.

And millions of people have died because they have had no food at all.

I like both of them but whole wheat is better for health wise.

try bread made from spelt, it's an older variety of grain and causes fewer allergic reactions.

I'm allergic to wheat! =( White bread harms me less

Way to miss the point of this article Tom...

ya good job at getting the point tom.

i personaly love white bread. i hate the taste of whole wheat. so thanks but i will continue to eat white.

I used to LOVE white, hate wheat. Once I used my brain and ate wheat, I really started to enjoy it. Now I hate white bread and complain whenever that's the only bread there is. I love the taste, richness and nutrition of wheat bread, it is all so much better than white bread.


This site really helped me with my Science Research

white bread yay

I was doing a research report on the difference between wheat and white breads and this really helped me alot. plus now I know a little more about my bread and I'm going to buy wheat breads for now on because I don't want to have a heart attack when I get older.

I feel exactly the same thing as Sam S. Used to love white changed for my health now cant stand white...it just feels like Im eating fluff and mush...no substance...I love the density of wheat. and I certainly would rather eat 1 piece of good wheat than 8 pieces of white. God, I sound like some kind of bread snob. oh well :-)

I really like the taste of white bread but unfortunately wheat bread is better for you.

why do people eat white bread instead of wheat

@Jamal: Since there is a lot of starch bakers have an easy time bringing out the sugars to give the bread flavor, and everybody likes the taste of sugars (it is probably hardwired into our brains because sugars keep us alive). It could always be the textures to, some people like really fluffy bread.

White bread is disgusting and harmful. Wheat bread tastes great and is good and helpful. No one I know eats white bread. Only self-destructive, miseducated, or impoverished people eat white bread.

@ Dan & Motley Crue Way to fail at comprehending just what Tom was referring to.

You know, I have always heard that wheat has been better than white, but I always grew up eating white, even riding my bike to the Hostess store for a loaf of White Wonder Bread. As I read this, I am eating a PB&J on wheat, and it is delicious. This article helped clear the air even further, and I will buy wheat from now on!!

I have switched over to whole grain/wheat. But nothing in this world makes me happier than when I am served a peanut butter (creamy) and jelly (grape) sandwich on Wonder Bread. I mean, those ingredients are just fine surrounded by wheat, but divine with white!

There's one very good reason why some people eat white bread: My husband suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and is desperately trying to re-balance intake of soluble vs insoluble fiber after 3 months of being poisoned (with the best of intentions!) by his chili-, garlic-, and fat-meat-loving mother-in-law. He loves whole-wheat bread, but cannot currently digest it. @ VandeKamp: My husband is neither "self-destructive, miseducated, or impoverished" - his digestive system cannot tolerate certain types of input. Way to stop a conversation, dude!

we should all eat skittles and end the debate

I eat wheat bread but hate the taste. I eat it because I know it's healthier for me. I've struggled with weight my entire life. Vandekamp you do have a small point. It is way more expensive to eat healthy. I believe small changes help.

In my opinion, if you like white bread, eat it! If you like your LIFE and HEALTH, eat whole wheat or whole grain bread.

I agree with jeff. I like skittles

White bread tastes horrible and feels like eating a sponge. They now have white wheat bread. Why would anybody want it, it tastes and feels like white bread and it only has the nitrition of wheat bread. White bread sucks because the texture sucks.

I was raised to eat both, but since I got older I started eating wheat bread.

I'm 15 and I totally agree that white bread sucks! It does taste like sponge doesn't it. . . not that I would know how that tastes. "Hillshire Bread. . . . GO WHEAT!"

I have alway's preferred wheat to white because of the taste. I found it even better that while I was always eating wheat while my very health conscience cousins were eating white.My wife and I have been eating Sara Lee 100% whole wheat now, for about 5years and we think it is the best. Try it out.

i used to be hooked on white bread till i heard how good wheat bread was for you, so i started over to wheat, i at first didnt like it, then i started getting used to it and i love wheat bread!!! i cant even stand to say the word's "white bread" anymore. Whit bread is just white fluff. White bread also Clog's up your arteries!!!!!!!!

wheat bread may be healthier, but white bread is yummier!

what about potato bread i like it is it as bad as white bread after reading this im going to wheat now

i like wheat bread better.

i like bagels

I don't eat much white bread. Instead, I eat lots of potato bread...yummy...but now i think I will switch over to wheat, since I enjoy living :)

Are you able to bake a nice wedding cake with wheat flour and it will come out okay? Light and moist without any additional flavor? What about making any other kind of breads besides slice bread? I eat french bread.

great sight

Way to go overboard Jack.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where we like what we're taught to like and hate the what we're taught to hate. We've learned that white bread looks better so, we think it's better. No, white bread is exactly what it is... bland and absent of important nutrients. It's time for u eat right and rid yourself of these bad habits. Eat right. Live Long and not just long but, happier.

This is not a life-and-death matter. In the long run, one may be healthier by eating wheat bread as opposed to white, with all other things being equal. However, if one person is obese, a heavy smoker, drinks lots of soda-pop, never exercises, drinks to excess quite often, and likes eating McDonald's and wheat bread versus someone who is lean, exercises, doesn't smoke or drink (too often), generally avoids fast food, but happens to love eating white bread, take a guess who the healthier of the two would be.

kabe, I think it's pretty obvious that there are many other factors that affect one's general health. The point here is that people eat a lot of bread, and if you have to choose between one that is nutritionally empty and one that provides many great health benefits, why not choose the latter? I relate to some of the others who switched from white to wheat -- and now, I couldn't go back. Well worth it!

white , black , brown. what the heck, be grateful we have something to eat. some places in the world people are starving. eat the stuff & work it out. feel goooood

I just recently switched over to wheat bread..never thought I would like it, but actually has not been bad at all. But what about potato bread ? It has half (35) the calories as white or wheat and has more fiber (2.5g vs 1g for wheat & 0g for white). It also has less carbs and fat.

in my previous post, I neglected to point out that the potato bread I referenced to was a "light" version.

I'm 15 and all my school will serve is wheat bread. I know they're trying to keep kids healthy, but there's a problem. What happens when we graduate? A lot of kids hate wheat bread, and since it's never explained in our school why they make certain changes (ex. rationing ketchup, salt, forcing us to get 2 grilled cheese sandwiches, whole wheat pasta...) when we graduate, we won't eat the stuff. Sorry, but even if I know the health benefits, I flat out hate whole wheat foods. I prefer white bread and normal pasta, thank you very much!

My family has been eating white bread for generation and the elderly have lived to their 90's and even to 104. Enjoy it and don't be fooled by negativity to white.