Another Reason to Opt for Wheat Over White
Italian researchers find that women who eat white bread have two times the risk of heart disease than women who eat wheat.
When we were young and our folks asked us what bread we wanted our peanut butter and jelly on—white or wheat—our answer depended upon our mood at the time. Did we want the white, which had a more bland taste but soaked up the jelly and peanut buttery goodness, or did we want the wheat, which had a more distinctive taste but didn’t marry with the PB and J quite as well as the white did?
Now that we’re older—and with any luck more health conscious than taste conscious—we hopefully choose wheat over white because it has the complex carbohydrates and fiber that white bread is void of, both of which are great for maintaining healthy weight levels and regularity.
But there’s another why white should always play second fiddle to wheat: It may double your risk for heart disease.
In a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Italian scientists found that women who tended to eat high glycemic foods like white bread, pastries and ice cream had more than two times the risk of having heart disease later in life compared to women who ate foods low on the glycemic index.
Writing in the journal, Italian scientist Sabina Sieri and her colleagues said, “A high consumption of carbohydrates from high glycemic index foods, rather than the overall quantity of carbohydrates consumed, appears to influence the risk of developing coronary heart disease.”
The study of 32,500+ women also looked into the diets of over 15,100 men to see if their consumption of high glycemic foods affected their heart health. But interestingly, no such linkage could be made between the kinds of carbohydrates men ate. Researchers attribute the differentiation to the fact that men and women metabolize foods differently.
So, does this give men the green light to eat white bread and corn flakes whenever they want? Alternatively, does this mean women should avoid white bread like the plague?
To both, the answer is no. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional sandwich with white bread, so long as your bread options are more often than not 100 percent whole wheat.
And men, while your choice of bread may not influence your heart disease risk, a 10-year study conducted by Harvard researchers in 1994 found that men who ate high fiber breads like wheat had fewer heart attacks and fewer strokes than men who opted for white.
So when you’re out perusing the bread aisle and deciding what bread’s best, keep the white out of sight and make wheat your new favorite treat.
But buyer beware: Don’t assume that brown in color means it’s wheat. Many breads are made with refined flour; they’re just dyed brown with caramel color to make it look like they’re wheat. Read the ingredients label. If the first listing doesn’t say “100 percent whole wheat,” put the brown down.
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