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Is Wheat Bread Bad For You?



Short answer

Although wheat bread is a healthier alternative when compared to white bread, many varieties still contain harmful additives and undergo heavy processing. It is best to consume wheat bread in strict moderation.



Long answer

Whole wheat bread is considered to be a better, healthier option over white bread due to the methods in which the flours are processed. Wheat flour is made using the entire wheat kernels, whereas white flours strip the kernels of all the germs and endosperms, which contain the majority of the vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates. Eighty percent of the fiber is removed from the wheat when making white flour. Wheat flours retain fiber and other healthy compounds such as antioxidants and phytonutrients.

According to FDA guidelines, whole wheat bread must be made of germ, endosperm, and bran “in proportions that equal those of intact grains”. Of course—there is always a loophole. Manufacturers can process grain as white flour and then add the germ and bran back into the flour and this will constitute whole grain flour. This process of “reconstitution” causes the “whole grain” bread to lose essential nutrients while still maintaining FDA guidelines to be able to package and market as being 100% whole-grain.

Whole wheat bread is generally considered to be a healthier option, however commercially manufactured bread sometimes contain ingredients that could be hazardous to your health and should be avoided. These ingredients include potassium bromate, which is added to bread as a leavening agent and it adds texture as well. Potassium bromate has been linked to cancer in animals and is inhibits kidney function in humans. Potassium bromate is banned for use in foods most industrialized nations, with the exception of the United States and Japan.

Azodicarbonamide (ADC) is a bleaching agent that, when exposed to heat, creates byproducts that are known to cause many adverse effects to the body which include damage to DNA, damage to hormone functions, and even cancer. ADA is also a respiratory sensitizer, meaning it can cause breathing problems and complicate respiratory illnesses such as asthma. This chemical additive can also exacerbate gluten reactions in the human body as well. Gluten irritability can lead to autoimmune disorders, neurological disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders.

Dextrose is an added sugar that is used to attain the brown, toasty color of the loaves of bread. Sugar causes a host of health problems, which include blood sugar irregularities and inflammation.

Alternatively, sprouted wheat bread is increasing in popularity among consumers. Sprouted grains increase the activity of enzymes allowing nutrients to be more available for digestion. Sprouting grains lowers the carbohydrate content in the grains and increases the fiber and antioxidant content. Bread made from sprouted grains are slightly more nutritious than bread made using un-sprouted flour.

Yeast bread, such as Sourdough, is considered healthier than regular bread and easy to digest. This process of fermentation takes place before baking and increases the acidity of the dough, which contributes to its health benefits. This fermentation process decreases the level of sugars and carbohydrates, which is helpful for blood sugar control. Sourdough bread is also easier to digest than regular bread due to its long fermentation time.

If you love regular whole wheat bread, you don’t have to give it up. Try to purchase it at a natural foods store, where the fewest amount of ingredients are listed. These stores typically only sell bread that is absent of toxic processing and harmful chemicals. Fermented bread such as Sourdough, when made using whole wheat flour, are easier to digest and could aid in reducing blood sugar levels. Bread that has undergone the least amount of processing are the best for your health.

Possible short-term side effects

  • blood sugar spikes
  • gastrointestinal problems

Possible long-term side effects

  • blood sugar problems
  • cancer
  • inflammation
  • pain
  • tooth decay
  • type ii diabetes
  • infertility
  • autoimmune diseases
  • endocrine system problems
  • neurological problems

Ingredients to be aware of

  • potassium bromate
  • azodicarbonamide (adc)
  • dextrose


  • healthier alternative to white bread

Healthier alternatives

  • sprouted wheat bread
  • sourdough bread
  • whole wheat bread with few additives from a natural food store

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Published on: 05-05-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Published on: 05-05-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

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