Q. I saw some whole wheat white bread at the grocery store for the first time and it sounds like a stretch of terminology. Is there really such a thing as whole wheat white bread? How does it compare nutritionally to regular whole wheat? G.B. Grand Rapids
A. You are right; whole wheat white bread sounds like fiction, but it is true. There is white whole wheat flour available to make your own baked goods from King Arthur, Bob’s Red Mill, Gold Medal and more. Some national bakeries have whole wheat white bread (for example in my area, I found whole wheat white bread made by Bimbo, Sara Lee, Pepperidge Farm, Aunt Millie’s and Wonder). I thought I might see whole wheat white buns for burgers or hot dogs, but if they are available I didn’t spot them tonight.
According to the Whole Grains Council, white wheat is a different type of wheat, with no major genes for bran color, so in a way it is an albino wheat. Regular whole wheat is made from “red” wheat, which contain one to three color genes.
Whole wheat white is lighter in color and milder in flavor than regular whole wheat, but you probably won’t be able to fool your family members totally, especially if they prefer squishy white bread. The bread made from this flour is the right color for the white bread lovers, but the bread has a firmer texture. Whole wheat white is nutritionally equivalent to whole wheat, but the flour costs more, so if you don’t mind the brown bits in regular whole wheat, you can save some money.
An interesting side bit is that white wheat has been the main type of wheat grown in Australia for decades. Also, many Asian countries prefer to make their noodles with white whole wheat (I have some udon noodles in my cupboard that list whole wheat flour as the first ingredient, but there are no flecks of brown in the noodle; they had to have used white whole wheat).
Development of white wheat for the US growing conditions started in the 1970’s. So it’s not really new! The original push for growing white wheat in the US had to do with increasing the amount of wheat exported. The use of whole wheat white to make white bread a more nutritious choice is a fairly new idea.
But they’ve got to do something about that name though! It’s a tongue twister, and everyone calls it a slightly different name, which makes it confusing to many. How about “Hey it’s Really Whole Wheat (White)”? Or, “Hey it’s really Whole Wheat (Brown)”? Just a thought.