Sourdough bread Sourdough bread Diets are not always what they appear to be, new research shows. (Photo: Whytock/Shutterstock)

Scientists bust myth, white bread may not be that bad

New research reveals that it's not much different than whole wheat bread.

Your doctor, your mother, your personal trainer, your friends, the internet ... it seems everyone is telling you to stay away from white bread these days. Indeed, 56 percent of Americans said in 2014 that they're cutting back on white bread in favor of whole-wheat or gluten-free alternatives, according to an industry survey. It seems this once-ubiquitous grocery staple is going the way of the dodo.

But is that really fair? A new study is turning some long-held notions about universally unhealthy food on its head.

Researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel set out to compare the effects of two types of bread – processed white and artisanal whole wheat sourdough – on a group of people. What they found, over several weeks of monitoring the subjects' blood glucose levels and vitamin intake as well as fat and cholesterol levels, is that there was no measurable difference in the health of someone who eats white bread and someone who sticks to whole wheat.

visual abstract shows the findings of Korem et al. who performed a crossover trial of industrial white or artisanal sourdough bread consumption and found no significant difference in clinical effects.White or wheat? This study suggests there's not much difference. (Photo: Korem et al/Cell Metabolism)

The researchers emphasize that this doesn't mean that both types of bread are bad for you. On the contrary, they say, it's far more important to look at individual glycemic responses to each food and act accordingly, rather than treating diets with a broad stroke.

"The findings for this study are not only fascinating but potentially very important, because they point toward a new paradigm: different people react differently, even to the same foods," says Eran Elinav, an Israeli researcher in the Department of Immunology at the Weizmann Institute and one of the study's senior authors. "To date, the nutritional values assigned to food have been based on minimal science, and one-size-fits-all diets have failed miserably."

Elinav said his study is more evidence of the need for doctors to tailor diets more specifically to each patient based on their gut microbiomes instead of telling all patients to stay away from a certain food.

The team came to similar conclusions in 2015, after monitoring the glucose levels of 800 people for a week and finding that different people have strikingly different responses to the same foods, even though said foods may be universally considered healthy.

"The huge differences that we found in the rise of blood sugar levels among different people who consumed identical meals highlights why personalized eating choices are more likely to help people stay healthy than universal dietary advice," said Weizmann Professor Eran Segal, who co-authored both the recent bread study and the 2015 overall health study.


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Related Topics: Healthy eating

Scientists bust myth, white bread may not be that bad
A new study out of Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science reveals that white bread is not much different than whole wheat bread.