Healthy bread: White is the new brown? 6/11
(This article is adapted from the May 2011 ShopSmart magazine.)
If you’re trying to eat more whole-grain products, as in whole-grain bread instead of white bread, you’re doing the right thing. Whole grains are higher in fiber, which helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Plus, whole grain products may contain more minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
But because whole-grain breads are traditionally brown, choosing them can be a turn-off, especially if there are kids in the family. It’s also hard to tell which breads really are whole grain. "Wheat bread" doesn't mean the wheat is whole, "whole wheat" doesn't mean the bread is 100 percent whole wheat, and "multigrain" doesn't mean all those grains are whole.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, some examples of whole grain products include oatmeal, whole-grain cornmeal, brown rice, whole-grain barley, whole rye, and buckwheat.
Some manufacturers, like Pepperidge Farm, are now using an albino variety of whole-wheat flour that’s softer in texture and, yes—white in color. Because white whole wheat isn’t refined, it’s technically a whole grain. That means it contains the entire edible part of a grain or seed, including the sprout of a new plant, the endosperm, which is the energy storehouse of the seed, and the nutrient-rich bran, the seed’s outer layer.) Refined grains, on the other hand, are stripped of their bran and germ layers during processing.
To spot white whole wheat products, check the label on "white" breads and other products for the operative words "whole grain" as the first or second ingredient. Pepperidge Farm’s Farmhouse Soft 100% Whole Grain White has "whole grain" right on the front label, so it’s easy to spot.
When Consumer Reports last tested 12 whole wheat and multigrain breads, Nature's Pride 100% Natural Healthy was judged “excellent” in the multigrain category. It was tasty enough to eat plain, with a nutty, complex mix of grains and crunchy seeds, and it was moist, chewy, and sweeter than most.
Among whole wheat varieties, Milton's 100% and Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Soft 100% were rated very good.
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