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The staff of life is still good stuff.

The American supermarket offers a vast variety of bread, but trying to find a loaf of real whole wheat bread can be a real chore. Words such as "multi-grain ..... wheat .....stone-ground wheat," or hearty," as well as brown wrappers (or even brown color throughout) are totally misleading. Unless the first ingredient on the label (which by law is the most by weight) says "whole wheat," it ain't! (A pet peeve is the wrapper that claims, in bold type, "Made with 100 percent whole wheat" when whole wheat is the third ingredient-after enriched white flour and water!)

Besides taste preference, the reason for choosing whole wheat or whole rye is, of course, that whole-gain flour contains both the nutrient-rich germ, and the fiber-rich bran, of the grain. This is not to suggest, however, that other breads represent poor nutrition. All breads offer good nutrition in the form of complex carbohydrates, thiamine, and niacin (as do bagels, English muffins, etc.), and they are low in fat and sodium. Moreover, many "white" breads are now being made with added fiber, which is partially indigestible and thus noncaloric (and not to be confused with the wood pulp that manufacturers used some years ago in some "high-fiber" bread). These present-day "high-fiber" breads usually contain 2 grams of fiber per slice. Two slices of toast for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch can thus provide a third or so of the 20 to 35 grams of fiber we all should consume each day.

Whole-grain breads are being made in a variety of textures, all equally nutritious. Those who like a more "hearty" texture will go for bread that is free of such dough conditioners as mono- and diglycerides and sodium stearoyl lactate, which are used to soften bread. (Although awful-sounding, these ingredients are perfectly safe.) Unlike refined flour, which is usually enriched with just thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and iron, whole-grain flour contains the minerals zinc, copper, magnesium, and chromium, as well as 50 to 80 percent more of such nutrients as vitamin B6, vitamin E, pantothenic acid, and folic acid.

(Note: The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta recently recommended this last nutrient as a dietary supplement for pregnant women who had previously given birth to babies born with the congenital birth defect called spina bifida. This recommendation came on the heels of an eight-year British study which found that folic acid substantially reduces the risk for this and other neural tube defects in future pregnancies. However, the FDA has yet to approve folic acid as a new drug to be used specifically for this purpose.)
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Title Annotation:whole wheat bread
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Nov 1, 1991
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