Is Whole-Grain Wonder Bread Really Good for You?

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Story at-a-glance -

  • Grains, including whole-grain, organic wheat, should be avoided by most people, especially those with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and are overweight However, 15 percent of the U.S. population who don’t struggle with any health issues and belong to the carb nutritional type can benefit from eating high-quality whole grains
  • Weight is an indicator of the quality of whole-grain breads. Authentic whole-grain breads are dense and they are relatively heavy, whereas low-quality ones are light

By Dr. Mercola

Wonder Bread, the nation's top bread brand, is poised to make a monstrous splash in the bread market; that's because it's coming out with a 100 percent whole-wheat loaf targeted at mothers who are concerned about their children's nutrition.

While the new whole-grain white bread looks and tastes the same as Wonder Bread's regular stuff (which, by the way, is sticking around), it is claimed to have three times the fiber and is made with an albino wheat that is void of the harsh taste commonly found in whole red-wheat flour. Moreover, whole-wheat and whole-grain flours contain all three parts of the wheat kernel, including the:

  • Bran
  • Germ
  • Starchy endosperm

According to the chief marketing officer for bread maker Interstate Brands, Wonder Bread's 100 percent, whole-grain alternative is meant to distribute all the goodness and health benefits of whole grain, without giving up the benefits of white bread.

However, while some praise the new, "healthy" alternative, others, like a nutritionist at New York University, claim the long list of dough conditioners necessary to give the bread its distinctive soft, mushy texture indicates it's hardly bread at all.

Impeccable Timing

Wonder Bread's whole-grain white bread--which has been dubbed "White Bread Fans 100% Whole Grain"--is scheduled to debut mid-July in six U.S. markets, including San Francisco, Sacramento, Kansas City, Omaha, Memphis, and Little Rock. The rest of the United States will follow by the end of the year.

And with a year and a half in development, the new product couldn't hit the market at a better time; Americans are slowly beginning to shy away from low-carb diets and the new federal dietary guidelines are recommending at least half of a consumer's bread and cereal intake be derived from whole-grain products.

It is easy to get confused about whole-grain products. I certainly did. When I was in medical school 25 years ago, I was referred to as "Dr. Fiber" for my passionate views about the health benefits of fiber. Since then, I have subsequently learned that grains for most people, yes, even whole-grain, organic wheat, should be avoided by most of you.

Let's get down to basics first. No matter what your nutritional type is, if you suffer from the following diseases you would best be served avoiding all grains, even whole grains:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight

If you are in the fortunate 15 percent of the U.S. population that does not struggle with the above issues, then whole grains are certainly an option for you, especially if you are a carb nutritional type.

The Grain-Insulin Connection

What most conventional physicians fail to appreciate is that there are many less-than-obvious reactions to gluten-containing grains, like wheat, that can cause health problems (gluten is a protein in wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt). Medicine has a term for this called sub-clinical gluten intolerance, I call it a clue.

Some of you are addicted to breads, bagels, pizza, pasta, waffles, and pancakes and would rather die than give them up. Ironically, many people who don't eliminate these foods end up doing just that; dying from insulin-related complications caused, in large part, from eating grain-related products.

But, if you are going to eat bread certainly stick with high-quality whole-grain products. There are many excellent brands out there. You will get a good clue before you even read the label by first picking it up. Authentic whole-grain breads are dense and they are relatively heavy. If you pick up the loaf and it floats out of your hand, you can be assured you have a deceptive clone that is trying to jump on the bandwagon--no matter what it says on the label.

Wonder Bread certainly falls into that category.

To learn more about how grains adversely affect your health, I recommend reading an article I posted in 2004 written by Paul Chek: “You Are What You Eat! Grains.” Chek shares an excerpt from his "You Are What You Eat" audio series about the history of grains throughout the ages, and how they serve to impair your health today in countless and unforeseen ways. His philosophies about nutrition, and grains in particular, mirror my own strategies that I share on my website and daily with my patients.

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