Whole Grains and Health

Are whole grain breads healthy alternatives to white flour breads?
  1. Yes  
  2. No
  3. ish  

Correct answer:

ish 

What you should know:

Many people know that whole grain breads are made by grinding a complete grain seed into flour, rather than stripping off some parts of the grain before grinding as is done to produce white flour. That means that nutrients are not lost at the very first stage of processing.

But it’s important to also know that whole grain breads are still processed foods. Minimally, they are processed by the act of grinding the grain into flour, and they generally also have a variety of chemical additives, which you can see on the label. 

Ignoring the additives for the moment, the grinding of the grain into flour itself has a marked effect on how your body responds to the food, because it takes much less time for your digestive system to convert the resulting very tiny pieces of starch into sugar. And that makes for an accelerated impact on your blood sugar level and on the insulin response. There’s evidence that when such impacts are consistently repeated over a long period of time, the result can be the development of insulin resistance, wherein the body becomes less sensitive to insulin and more and more insulin is required to cause the same effect. 

Does this mean you should limit or avoid bread altogether? That’s a decision you’ll want to make based on your own circumstances and health goals. But knowing the score will help you better understand what you’re getting into—and what’s getting into you.

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