Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

White whole-wheat bread: Is it nutritious?

How can bread be labeled as both white and whole wheat? Is white whole-wheat bread healthy?

Updated: 01-29-2011

Answer

It may seem like it doesn't add up, but actually white whole-wheat bread is made with whole grains, just as is regular whole-wheat bread. White whole-wheat bread also is nutritionally similar to that of regular whole-wheat bread.

The difference between white whole-wheat bread and regular whole-wheat bread is in the type of wheat used. White whole-wheat bread is made with white wheat, which lacks bran color. It also has a milder flavor and softer texture. In contrast, regular whole-wheat bread is made with red wheat, which is darker in color. It has a slightly bitter taste and a coarser texture. So even though both types of bread are made with whole grains, they have a different color, taste and texture. Other products besides bread, such as crackers and baking mixes, may also be made with white whole wheat.

Some people prefer the taste and texture of white bread over whole-wheat bread. But if you want the nutritional benefits of whole wheat, choose white whole-wheat bread — not regular, refined white bread. White whole-wheat bread offers the same nutritional benefits as whole-wheat bread. Regular white bread, on the other hand, is made with refined grains, which go through a process that strips out certain parts of the grain — along with some of the nutrients and fiber.

When you're selecting any kind of bread, read the label carefully. Choose breads that list "whole" grain as the first ingredient, such as whole wheat, white whole wheat or whole oats. If the label doesn't say "whole" first, it isn't a whole-grain product. For example, a product label may simply say white wheat, which is not the same as white whole-wheat bread.