Why are whole-grain breads and pasta better for you than white bread and pasta?

Why are whole-grain breads and pasta better for you than white bread and pasta?

Question:
Michael Roizen, M.D.
ABOUT THE EXPERT

Michael Roizen, M.D.

As chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute of the Cleveland Clinic, Michael F. Roizen, MD, is on a mission to inform... Read more

Whole-grain breads aren’t necessarily that much better for you than white bread — unless you’re eating 100 percent whole-grain bread. A 100 percent whole grain means that the grain hasn’t been altered in any way. So it’s still got three key components for health: the outer shell (or bran) that contains fiber and B vitamins; germ, which contains phytochemicals and B vitamins; and the endosperm, which has carbs and protein. White bread, meanwhile, is made from wheat grain that has been stripped of the outer shell and germ. Why is this a bad thing? When you eat breads and pastas made from this type of wheat — also called enriched, bleached, unbleached, semolina or durum flour — or rice flour, your body quickly converts this carbohydrate to sugar in your bloodstream. Your brain likes the feel-good rush of the sugar and sends out the message, more, more, more! Your arteries — not so much. Essentially, regularly raising your blood sugar can damage proteins called glycosylates. One of that protein’s jobs is to hold your cells and arteries together. When the arteries aren’t held together properly, your body tries to plaster the holes with LDL (bad) cholesterol. The result: atherosclerosis, which means your arteries are hardening and thickening, thanks to the fatty deposits, putting you at a high risk of heart attack and stroke. One-hundred percent whole grains, meanwhile, take longer to convert to sugar, are much less addictive than white flour/bread, and they also stay in your intestines longer, which means you stay fuller longer. That’s pretty fantastic, don’t you think? The bottom line: Stay away from bread or pasta that doesn’t say 100 percent whole grain. Learn more at 360-5.com: How Good Carbs Can Help Your Fight Fat and Disease.

Answer: