YRWYE: White or Brown?

April 24, 2007

Will start a new series of YRWYE (read: You are what you eat!) to compile some useful information about the healthiness of food. Be concious of what we put into our mouth because we are what we eat!

So to kick-start, do you prefer white or brown? haha.. What am I talking about? Yeah, I am asking whether you prefer white bread or brown bread or wholemeal bread or wholegrain bread? I am confused. So many types of bread! Which one is actually better for our body?

I think it has been widely promoted that wholemeal/wholegrain bread is better for us. But why? What makes it more beneficial for us? Ths is the structure of a wheat grain. All types of wheat bread are made of this grain. But which parts are included in the bread essentially make one bread different from another!


So what is the difference between wholegrain, wholemeal, white or brown bread?

Both milled and unmilled grains are important sources of nutrients and fibre. The degree to which grains are milled determines the nutrient content of the end product.

  • Wholegrain: Wholegrain foods contain all the components of the grain- the bran, germ and endosperm. The grains may be whole, cracked or milled. The outer grain layers are a great source of essential nutrients and contain many protective elements. It is in the outer layers (bran and germ) that beneficial nutrients like fibre, vitamins and minerals are found.Typical wholegrain foods include wholemeal and mixed grain breads, rolled oats, wholemeal pastas and brown rice.
  • Wholemeal: Wholegrains that have been milled to a finer texture become wholemeal. Wholemeal contains all the components of the grain, therefore wholemeal foods are also wholegrain. Wholemeal bread and rye bread are typical examples of wholemeal products.
  • White: White bread is made from white flour. White flour is made using only about 75% of the grain (only the central part of the grain is used)
  • Brown: Brown flour used in brown bread is made using about 85% of the grain.

The Verdict:

Australian dietary guidelines recommend Australians eat ‘Plenty of cereals (including breads, rice, pasta and noodles), preferably wholegrain’.

Singapore Health Promotion Board recommend the people to eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. Wholegrains and fortified cereals also contain nutrients such as folate, zinc, calcium, vitamins E and B12, which are often lacking in the diets of elderly. Eat wholemeal bread/brown rice instead of white bread/white rice. Add chopped, cooked dark green leafy vegetables like spinach or kailan to soups, stews or rice dishes for more iron.

Grains and legumes contain many nutrients – they are an excellent source of healthy carbohydrates and dietary fibre and an important source of protein. They are generally low in fat and good sources of B-vitamins, Vitamin E and many minerals. Wholegrain foods also contain many protective components such as antioxidants and phytoestrogens.

A diet high in grain-based foods, especially wholegrains (breads, cereals, pasta etc), legumes, fruits and vegetables can help protect against heart disease, diabetes and some cancers and is associated with better long term weight management.

A healthy diet includes at least 2 serves of wholegrain foods every day (a good target is to make at least half your grain foods wholegrain).


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