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White Bread or Whole Wheat for Health? Turns Out It Depends On The Person

Update Date: Jun 15, 2017 01:55 PM EDT

If you're like me, then you've spent a lot of time staring into the bread wall at Trader Joe's, wondering whether you should splurge on TJ's famous Sprouted Multi-Grain Bread, or if you're better off with for TJ's Organic Soft White Bread.

According to new research, the time you spent ogling the bread aisle could have been better used elsewhere, like the ice cream case. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute claim that our choice in bread is just another hyped-up health distraction that doesn't add up to much. 

Writing in Cell Metabolism, senior author Eran Segal and his team performed a randomized crossover trial of dietary interventions where 20 healthy participants were asked to consume either industrially made white bread or traditionally made sourdough-leavened whole-grain bread. After a bread-free two-week period -- a palate cleanser, as it were -- the researchers switched the diets for the two groups.

Before and during the study, the team kept tabs on participants' wakeup blood glucose levels, calcium levels, iron levels, and magnesium levels.

"The initial finding, and this was very much contrary to our expectation, was that there were no clinically significant differences between the effects of these two types of bread on any of the parameters that we measured," Segal said. "We looked at a number of markers, and there was no measurable difference in the effect that this type of dietary intervention had."


Based on previous studies, Segal's team suspected something more intricate could be going on -- possibly a change in glycemic response between individual/bread type. Further research confirmed this was the case. Approximately half of the participants responded better to the processed bread, while the others responded better to the whole-wheat sourdough.

"The findings for this study are not only fascinating but potentially very important, because they point toward a new paradigm: different people react differently, even to the same foods," senior author Eran Elinav said. "To date, the nutritional values assigned to food have been based on minimal science, and one-size-fits-all diets have failed miserably."

"These findings could lead to a more rational approach for telling people which foods are a better fit for them, based on their microbiomes," Elinav added.

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