Why Isn't White Bread Good for You?

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White bread -- the ubiquitous soft and fluffy slices still favored by many -- looks delicious but has little substance. Most hamburger buns, French and Italian bread, Kaiser rolls, bagels and pizza crust are also white bread and none of them are good for you. White bread is low in essential nutrients, and may have an adverse effect on your health.

Refined Grains

A refined grain is created when a whole grain is finely ground and stripped of its bran and germ, the elements that contain fiber, vitamins and minerals. White bread is made from refined grains, which are low in magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, fiber and essential fatty acids. Even though some manufacturers add vitamins back in, natural whole grains are still a superior choice.

High Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is a measurement of how quickly and how much a food affects your blood sugar and insulin levels compared with pure glucose. White bread has a high glycemic index because it's made from refined grains that are rapidly absorbed during digestion, causing sharp spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. A diet that includes a lot of white bread and other high-glycemic foods -- like sweets, candy, desserts and white potatoes -- increases your risk for weight gain, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

Low in Fiber

White bread is low in fiber. Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet that lowers your cholesterol level and keeps your gastrointestinal tract working properly. The recommended daily intake of fiber is 14 grams for every 1,000 calories you consume. If you eat the average 2,000 calorie-per-day diet, you need 28 grams of fiber a day. The average slice of white bread has 0.5 grams of fiber, whereas the average slice of whole wheat bread has 2 grams, according to the USDA Nutrient Database.

Healthy Alternative

Choose whole grain bread instead of white bread to get more vitamins, minerals and fiber. Whole grain bread also has a lower glycemic index, providing you with a steadier, more sustained source of energy that lowers your risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and weight gain. Whole-grain bread can't be identified by color or name -- bread that's brown in color or labeled "wheat bread," "hearty grain" or "9 grain" may not be a whole-grain product at all. Look at the ingredient list when shopping for whole grain bread. The first ingredient must be a whole grain, such as whole wheat, whole oats or whole rye.

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