Difference between White and Whole Wheat Bread

Published on December 30, 2016

Bread is a staple food in many countries and eaten throughout the day. Some people tout the health benefits of whole wheat bread, some love white bread, and some don’t know the difference between the two. Is there a difference, and if there is, what is it?

Descriptions

White Bread vs Whole Wheat Bread
Sliced white bread

White bread is bread made from wheat flour. Wheat flour is processed to remove the bran and the germ layers. It undergoes the milling process wherein light-colored (white) flour is produced. During the milling process, natural oils are removed from the whole grain resulting in a longer shelf life. Bleach in a form of potassium bromate or chlorine dioxide gas is sometimes added to enhance the light color of the bread and to remove its natural yellow shade.

White bread is eaten as is, toasted, or as french toast. It can be eaten with fruit jams or spreads during breakfast. During lunch, when it is often consumed as sandwich, it is usually garnished with tomato, lettuce, and cheese. One slice of white bread contains 79 calories, 15 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.8 grams of fiber.

Whole wheat bread
Sliced whole wheat bread

Whole wheat bread is a type of brown bread made from flour that is entirely or partially milled from wheat grains. During the milling process, often some or all of the bran and wheat germ is kept in the flour – thus the name “whole” wheat. Some wheat breads are coated with whole grains of wheat as decoration. Whole wheat bread is marketed as a healthy alternative to white bread in the U.S. because it is perceived to have a high content of whole grains. Its light brown color comes either from the naturally darker flour (due to the bran and wheat germ) or from caramel coloring added to give the perception that it has a high whole wheat content.

Similar to white bread, whole wheat bread can be eaten as is or it can be toasted before being consumed. It is best paired with fruit jams or spreads to give additional flavor. Whole wheat bread can also be used in sandwiches with ham or bacon, tomato, lettuce, and cheese. One slice contains 69 calories, 12 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.9 grams of fiber.

White Bread vs Whole Wheat Bread

So what is the difference between white bread and whole wheat bread? While both are similar, there are key differences between the two in their processes, coloring, marketing, and nutrition content.

Process

In white bread, the bran and germ layers are removed during the milling process. On the other hand, the flour used to make whole wheat bread has some or all of the bran and wheat germ left in it. Whole wheat bread may also have grains added to the outside of the bread as decoration.

Coloring

In white bread, bleach is added to enhance the light color of the bread. Whole wheat bread is often naturally darker in color but it can also have caramel coloring added to enhance the brown color.

Marketing

White bread is marketed as a staple breakfast food while whole wheat bread is marketed as a healthy alternative to white bread.

Nutritional Content

Whole wheat bread has more nutritional content than white bread. Its carbs and calorie content are lower than white bread – 12 and 69 grams, respectively, in comparison to 15 and 79 grams. In addition, wheat bread has more than twice the amount of fiber as white bread.

Comparison Chart

White BreadWhole Wheat Bread
Bran and germ layers are removed during milling processBran and germ layers are often completely or partially left in the flour; sometimes grains are added to loaves as decoration
Marketed as a breakfast stapleMarketed as an alternative to white bread
Bleach is added to enhance the colorNaturally darker colored or it may have caramel coloring to enhance the color
79 calories per slice69 calories per slice
15 grams of carbohydrates12 grams of carbohydrates
0.8 grams of dietary fiber1.9 grams of dietary fiber