Is brown bread healthier than white bread?

Dieters and fitness enthusiasts would almost always choose brown bread over white bread due to the belief that the former is healthier than the latter. But new research is shedding new light on this notion.

A study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that there really isn't that much difference on the effect of brown and white bread to the glycaemic response of the body.

Brown bread has long been regarded as the healthier option because it has a low glycaemic index, but the researchers learned that the glycaemic response mainly depends on the stomach guts and not on the type of bread consumed.

For the study, the researchers examined 20 people in Israel for two weeks and learned that there is no differential clinical effect of white, refined industrial bread as compared to whole wheat sourdough bread.

Half of the participants were asked to increase their consumption of white bread for a week while the other half were made to eat more sourdough bread for the same period. The diets for the two groups were then reversed to see how the bread would affect both groups.

'The initial finding, and this was very much contrary to our expectation, was that there were no clinically significant differences between the effects of these two types of bread on any of the parameters that we measured,' Eran Segal, one of the study's senior authors and a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, said in a statement.

'To date, the nutritional values assigned to food have been based on minimal science, and one-size-fits-all diets have failed miserably,' Eran Elinav, another senior author and a researcher in the Department of Immunology at the Weizmann Institute, quipped.

'These findings could lead to a more rational approach for telling people which foods are a better fit for them, based on their microbiomes,' added Elinav.

Interestingly, there is still reason to believe that brown bread is healthier than its white counterpart. When the level of fibre is taken into consideration, whole grain bread is better, according to Bridget Benelam of the British Nutrition Foundation.

Since the size of the study is too small, more research needs to be done to better understand how the body really responds to both white and brown bread. But for now, more experts still favour whole grain bread than the refined white bread.

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