Wheat Bread Tops White in Sales

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Americans have been buying more wheat bread instead of white bread, according to a new study, which could mean that the Americans are literally buying into the idea that wheat is better for them.

Sales of wheat bread reached $2.6 billion, surpassing those of white bread ($2.5 billion) in the past year, according to market research from Nielsen, which recently debuted its U.S. Healthy Eating Index.

White bread sales fell 7% while wheat sales rose 5%, suggesting that some consumers may be making a switch.

These numbers are even more noteworthy because grocery shoppers pay a premium for wheat bread. While consumers bought 1.3 billion loaves of wheat bread at an average cost of $2 per loaf, they bought 1.5 billion loaves of white bread at an average cost of $1.66 per loaf.

So, what makes wheat bread healthier? According to the National Institutes of Health, the white flour that is used to make white bread often lacks vitamin B and other nutrients while whole wheat bread is nutrient-rich.

A recent study also found that simple carbohydrates found in white bread can increase the risk of heart disease, especially in women, according to HealthDay.

An eight-year study published earlier this year in the Archives of Internal Medicine looked at the diets of more than 47,000 men and women. The study found that women who consumed the most simple carbs found in bread had twice the level of heart disease risk as those who ate the least.

Additionally, the fiber in whole wheat bread can help prevent colon cancer and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, constipation and hemorrhoids, according to the NIH.

What’s more, eating whole grains instead of the refined flour in white bread can promote weight loss by helping you feel fuller longer, the NIH notes.

And considering the amount of money Americans have been spending on weight loss supplements and other products – totaling more than $58 billion in 2008, according to MarketData Enterprises - boosting fiber intake is a fairly cheap way to slowly lose weight.

But the term “wheat bread” on a label doesn’t always mean a product contains whole grains. Actually, wheat flour is virtually the same as white flour in that the bran and germ layers of the grain are removed, according to the Food and Drug Administration’s classifications.

Whole wheat flour, on the other hand, is considered whole grain flour since it contains every part of the grain including the bran, endosperm, and germ. Wheat bread sales data include all wheat breads, however, even those that aren’t made with whole grains.

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