The Nielsen Co. reports that for the first time the sale of wheat bread has surpassed the sale of white bread. Looking for more nutrition, bread-eaters have been turning to wheat and whole-grain breads. But not all wheat breads are created equal, and just because your bread is brown, doesn’t mean it’s any better than the white bread sitting next to it on the shelf.

A loaf of bread may say “wheat bread” and the color may be brown, but if the ingredients don’t say “whole wheat” you may just be buying bread made with refined white flour then colored with molasses or caramel color. What’s the difference between refined white flour and whole wheat flour?

I found a good explanation of it on Vegetarian Times.

The flour for both is made from wheat berries, which have three nutrient-rich parts: the bran (the outer layers), the germ (the innermost area) and the endosperm (the starchy part in between). Whole wheat is processed to include all three nutritious parts, but white flour uses only the endosperm. When put head-to-head with whole wheat bread, white is a nutritional lightweight. Whole wheat is much higher in fiber, vitamins B6 and E, magnesium, zinc, folic acid and chromium.
When determining if the wheat bread you're going to buy is made from whole wheat, always look at the ingredient list. Don’t rely on what the manufacturer writes on the front of the package. Manufacturers have been known to make misleading nutritional claims on the front of packages.

The first ingredient in whole wheat bread should be “whole wheat” or “whole grain.” If the first ingredient is simply “wheat,” find another loaf. Refined white flour is made from wheat, so wheat without the word “whole” in front of it doesn’t mean it’s whole wheat.

Another bread that has become more prominent on the grocery store shelves recently is whole grain white bread. Although that sounds like an oxymoron, white whole wheat flour is different from whole wheat and it’s different from refined white flour. I discussed this a while ago in a post that I did titled Secretly switch your family to whole wheat.

If you’re a bread-eater who has switched to wheat breads lately because you want to eat healthier, turn that bread bag over and make sure you're actually doing so.

Photo: erlyrzrjr/Flickr

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Make sure your wheat bread is worth it
Not all wheat breads are created equal. What should you look for to get the most nutritional bang from your brown bread?