Why you should choose wholemeal bread over white
Even when I was younger, I knew brown was a better choice over white. I knew wholemeal (whole grain) foods had more fibre, but this was as far as my knowledge went. I've recently been looking into the difference a lot more. Luckily I actually like the taste of wholemeal foods. I prefer wholemeal rice, pasta and bread, so I always eat these at home.
What started to baffle me is why you can't buy more wholemeal based items in stores and restaurants. I've not yet come across a wholemeal rice option in a restaurant and only once a pasta. I've never ever seen a wholemeal based pizza in a supermarket. Now I know more about the actual difference between white and wholemeal, I wonder why white is so popular. The benefits of eating wholemeal foods far outweigh choosing the refined white versions.
So what is the difference between white grains and whole grains?
All grains are originally whole grains. I used to think they grew two different grains! So, white grains are in fact created from whole grains. They are 'refined' and changed from their natural state by having the bran and germ removed. This makes them quicker and easier to cook, which is probably why they are so much more widely available. Most people also prefer the taste. However, I think the nutrient content should always be a factor when making your choice.
Unfortunately, removing the bran and germ to create white grains also removes most of the nutrients. The bran contains fibre, minerals and B vitamins. The germ contains antioxidants, B vitamins, vitamin E and healthy fats. This means white foods no longer contain all this goodness as its been removed.
Some white foods, especially breakfast cereals, are then fortified with vitamins and minerals as they no longer contain them. I find this a strange process as surely it makes more sense to eat the whole grain version in the first place and cut out a load of the processing.
So what do white grains contain?
What we're left with after the removal of the bran and germ is the endosperm layer. It contains carbohydrates and a small amount of protein. Without the fibre from the bran layer, the sugar from the carbohydrate enters the blood stream far too quickly causing our blood sugar level to spike. Spiking our blood sugar levels can eventually lead to insulin resistance & diabetes.
Consumption of lots of white grains is also linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. White foods makes us feel good and energised quickly, but this effect is only short lived, no good for our bodies and we are actually hungrier quicker as there is no long lasting satisfaction. Eating white foods has been linked to weight gain because of this.
The benefits of wholemeal
Wholemeal foods, however, release their sugars slowly so the liver can cope better and our blood sugar levels are not spiked. This means energy levels remain steady for longer, we also feel fuller and more satisfied for longer whilst benefiting from far more nutrients. Risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes are reduced. Plus we get the fibre, antioxidants and vitamins!
Knowing all this information should definitely make choosing wholemeal far easier. I definitely feel far more satisfied and wholesome when eating wholemeal foods and more bloated, tired and sluggish soon after eating whites. I now very rarely eat whites, only really if I'm out and there's no other choice. Hopefully more people will make the switch!