Oops: whole-wheat bread is not healthy at all

POSTED: 10/2/12 1:42 PM

Here is an interesting thought from the Netherlands to chew on – literally: whole-wheat bread is absolutely not healthier that white bread, baker Menno ‘t Hoen wrote in an op-ed in the Volkskrant. This is his story.

“A highly dangerous whole-wheat bus is racing through the Netherland. Happily frolicking boys and girls jump out of it and they want to stuff us with whole-wheat rolls under the pretext: whatever you do, whole-wheat is always good. As a baker I am forced to contribute to this campaign of the Information bureau bread and I feel obliged to warn you: bread – whole-wheat of white, does not make you healthier.

The Food Center has been promoting the disk of five with a large role for carbohydrate-rich food. A grownup man is supposed to eat seven slices of bread and five serving spoons of pasta, rice or potatoes every day. Preferably whole-wheat of course: that is always good.

The food center does not tell us that one whole-wheat slice of bread has a larger effect on the blood sugar level than one soupspoon of sugar.  That is due to the high glycemic index of white and whole-wheat wheat-products. That index is the standard for the effect of carbohydrates on the blood sugar level. This means that carbohydrates from wheat are faster broken down into glucose that is absorbable in the blood. Because it absorbs so fast the blood sugar level rises, causing the pancreas to give off insulin; the sugars are absorbed in the blood for the muscles and the organs. The energy the body does not use is turned into fat for a moment when it is asking energy but has no carbohydrates to meet the demand.

If we follow the food Center’s advice we take in carbohydrates with every meal,. This keeps the insulin-content of our blood high, making it impossible to access our fat-reserves and the belly remains. Not in spite of our good behavior, but because of it.

The food Center only emphasized the perceived benefits of whole-wheat: fibers, vitamins, minerals and a longer saturation causing people to have less appetite for snacking in between meals. The opposite is true: the high glycemic index of (whole-wheat) wheat causes the pancreas to produce more insulin than is necessary to keep the blood sugar on its normal level. The consequence is that people tend to grab a snack two hours after a meal.

What remains are minerals and vitamins. Unfortunately the whole-wheat bread in the Netherlands is often produced too fast; that is the reason why the phytic acid is not broken down, because this only happens during a lengthy yeasting-process. Phytic acid hinders the absorption of minerals like iron, zinc and calcium in the body.

And vitamins? Whole-wheat contains only a couple of B-vitamins. One slice of whole-wheat contains only 2 percent of the recommended daily intake of B1-vitamins. Thirty grams of fennel contains three times as much.

The situation in France is different. There, bread has to be tasty in the first place. Nice, creamy white baguette for dipping in the vinaigrette of a salad. Whole-wheat is for pigs, bread-professor Calvel once said. The subtle aromas of wheat only surface in a good white bread.

It is about time to give bread the humble place where it fits: as the companion of the meal. As something that is tasty instead of healthy. If you eat it, opt for a piece of bread that is made without additives and that has gone through a long yeasting-time. Get your fibers, vitamins and minerals from vegetables and fruit. And quickly step aside when the whole-wheat bus races towards you.”

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