Nutrition Over Easy: When Is White Bread Preferable?

In my recent post “Are Your Nutrition Priorities in the Right Order?” I observed that portion size has a bigger impact on blood sugar than whether a grain product is whole or refined.

Laura’s not buying it! She comments:

So you’re saying that eating 1 peanut butter sandwich on white bread is better nutritionally than eating 2 on whole wheat bread? I find that hard to believe.

Fair enough. Let’s take a look at how these two options stack up.

Nutrient Facts PB on White
1 sandwich
PB on Wheat
2 sandwiches
Calories 321 653
Carbs 32 g 59 g
Fiber 3 g 11 g
Protein 12 g 31 g
Glycemic Load 15 22

As you can see, the 2 peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat offer more protein and more fiber.  Not surprisingly, they also provide significantly more carbs and calories.  And the glycemic load of two peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat is quite a bit higher than the glycemic load of one peanut butter sandwich on white.  In other words, portion size has a bigger impact on blood sugar than whether a grain is whole or refined.

Are You Better Off Eating White Bread?

I’m not saying that white bread is better than whole grain.  Whole grains have less of an impact on blood sugar than a similar sized serving of refined grains.  But that part in italics often seems to get overlooked.  People get lulled into thinking that whole grains have NO impact on blood sugar–which they clearly do–or that the more whole grains you eat the healthier you’ll be.

Actually, You’re Better off Eating Less Bread

Let me add another option to the two Laura has suggested: 1 peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat.

Nutrient Facts PB on White
1 sandwich
PB on Wheat
2 sandwiches
PB on Wheat
1 sandwich
Calories 321 653 327
Carbs 32 g 59 g 30 g
Fiber 3 g 11 g 6 g
Protein 12 g 31 g 15 g
Glycemic Load 15 22 11

As you can see, in terms of glycemic load (effect on blood sugar), 1 sandwich on whole wheat is best, 1 sandwich on white is not as good, but 2 sandwiches on whole wheat is the least good.

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(Monica Reinagel, MS, LN, is a licensed nutritionist, a professionally trained chef and host of the #1-ranked Nutrition Diva podcast.  Her highly-anticipated new book,  Secrets for a Healthy Diet: What to Eat, What to Avoid, and What to Stop Worrying About is your essential guide to the healthiest choices, both at the grocery store and at every meal and snack of the day. Connect with Monica on Facebook or on her blog at NutritionOverEasy.com)

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