Is Brown Bread Equal to Whole Grain Bread?

Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Founding Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

Being brown doesn’t make bread necessary whole wheat or whole grain! Some brown bread indeed is added with brown coloring. You may find it listed on the label usually as “caramel coloring”!!! In addition, the term “multi-grain” bread, “rye” bread, “5 grain” or “7 grain” bread also doesn’t mean that they always use whole grain in their formulation. In United States and Canada, only bread labeled with “whole wheat” truly uses whole wheat flour in their processing. Other “wheat bread” may simply use a combination of white refined flour and whole wheat flour. The key word to look for is “whole”!!

What are lost when whole grains are refined when making whole grain bread?

Whole grains contain fiber, antioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc and B vitamins. When whole grains are refined, all of the above are completely or partially removed. Among the above, more than 50% of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B5 (Pentothenic Acid), Vitamin 6, Folate and Vitamin E are lost during the milling process. In addition, whole grains also contain lignans, phenolic acids, phytoestrogens, and other phytochemicals may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

By law, the flour manufacturers must fortify white flour with Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate and Iron to replenish the loss during the refining process.

The Amazing Fiber

One of the beneficial nutrient fiber is removed in the refining process and hence can be found in abundance in whole wheat bread but not white bread. Fiber not only promotes health, it also help reduce the risk for some chronic diseases. For instance, fiber prevents constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. Fiber is also linked to prevent some cancers especially colon and breast cancer. In addition, fiber may help lower the LDL cholesterol (the Bad cholesterol) and the total cholesterol therefore reducing the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, fiber can help lower blood sugar therefore help better manage diabetes. Last but not least, fiber may help keep you trim as it contains 0 calories and often keeps you feeling full.

The Bottom Line

Enjoy the healthy benefits of whole wheat or whole grain bread!!! You may also choose from these High Fiber Foods to boost your fiber intake!


bread, fiber, whole grains


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