Could white bread be as healthy as brown bread for some people?

Barsaba Taglieri
Giugno 8, 2017

Many of us have pushed away our beloved white bread in exchange for whole wheat options that we've been told are better for us, but a new study found that might not be true.

Researches from the Weizmann Institute of Science analysed the levels of fat, cholesterol and key vitamins and minerals in participants eating different breads and found very little difference between the two.

But when the researchers looked closely at the study participants' glycemic responses, they realized that about half the people had a better response to the white bread, and the other half had a better response to the whole wheat sourdough.

Prior to the study, the volunteers ate an average amount of bread - amounting to around 10% of their daily calories. The participants then had to stop eating bread for two weeks, at which point their diets were reversed.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal Cell Metabolism, compared how processed white bread and artisanal whole wheat sourdough bread affected the bodies of 20 healthy subjects.

For example, one obese woman involved in a 2015 Weizmann study ate tomatoes because she considered them healthy - not realising tomatoes had a unique effect on her blood sugar levels that caused them to spike, making it harder for her to lose weight even though she was trying to eat the "right" foods.

The researchers said the similar overall response to the two types of bread could be explained because different people react differently to the same foods, depending on the blend of microbes in their gut.

Processed white bread may be flawless for a chip butty, but is often shunned by health experts due to its low nutritional value.

Bread is one of the most commonly eaten foods in the United Kingdom, where households get through almost 12 million loaves a day - three quarters of it white.

The findings could lead to a more rational approach for telling people which foods are a better fit for them, based on their microbiomes or gut bacteria, researchers said. The participants were split into two groups.

Until now the nutritional value associated with food was much focused on one-size-fits-all diets and it did not consider science.

Therefore, researchers made a decision to see how our bodies react to white bread containing refined wheat and to whole grain bread produced through traditional methods. The researchers added that they were able to predict what a person's glycemic response would be to a particular bread based on the makeup of their microbiome.

Everyone has a different health profile that may be influenced by several factors, such as genetics and family history. It also contains more fibre than white bread and so typically people tend to consume less because its more filling. However, on taking a further look at the results, the team found that there were differences in the way individuals responded to the different breads.

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