More On Whole-Grain Vs. White Bread

Love white bread but feel guilty eating it? Quit worrying, it's not bad for you, a widely publicized report indicated earlier this week.

Yet whole-grain bread still has a nutritional edge, responded a Seattle research dietitian.

Contrary to popular perceptions, bread won't necessarily make you gain weight, concluded a study paid for by Continental Baking Co., maker of sliced white Wonder Bread. And white bread is an acceptable choice when used in a high-fiber diet, researchers said.

"White bread is not bad for you," researcher Ruth Carpenter was quoted as saying. Carpenter headed the Dallas study, in which participants ate varying amounts of white bread without gaining weight. Bread-eaters tended to eat less fat, the study found.

What wasn't noted is that whole-grain bread can be a key element in achieving a high fiber diet. White bread, by contrast, is low in fiber.

You can get fiber in fruits, vegetables and legumes, but whole-grain bread offers another important source, said Barbara Retzlaff, head dietitian at the University of Washington's Northwest Lipid Research Center.

Whole-grain bread also has more vitamins and minerals, some of which are lost when grain is milled for white bread and are only partially restored by bread manufacturers. Whole-grain bread has more vitamin B-6, for instance.

Although the Continental-funded study indicated white bread doesn't particularly promote weight gain, many nutrition experts think whole-grain bread has an edge in this area, too, because fiber is more filling so a person might eat less.

Both white bread and whole-grain breads are good sources of carbohydrates. Also, white breads such as crusty French bread, Italian bread, English muffins and dinner rolls add variety to meals, and there's nothing wrong with enjoying them some of the time, said Retzlaff.

For sandwiches, though, she thinks whole-grain bread "is a better choice because it gives you some vitamins, some minerals and some fiber that aren't in white bread."