White Bread vs. Brown Bread
White bread, so popular in the United States and Europe, is made from refined flour. Refined in the context of bread, sugar and rice is something of a mis-nomer. The word should be considered as describing the appearance rather than the quality of the food. White bread, sugar and rice look nice and clean, but in reality all the good and a lot of the nutritional value is literally thrashed out or bleached away.
The more processed a food is, the faster the sugar starch, known as endosperm, is absorbed in the blood. This may lead to a boost of energy, but quickly veins away and hunger pangs return faster. In white bread, the portion of the grain which slows digestion, i.e. the fiber rich bran and germ, are removed in processing. Other vital ingredients of bran like calcium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium and potassium are also destroyed and, sometimes, chemically added on later. White bread basically provides carbohydrates, fat and not much else. 100gr of white bread have approx. 217 calories and 1,5 gr, fat.
100% whole grain bread is definitely the much more healthy alternative.
White Sugar vs. Brown Sugar
Sugar is made by crystallizing either sugar cane or beet. A distinction must be made between brown sugar and natural raw brown sugar. Brown sugar is refined white sugar to which molasses have been added. Brown raw sugar, also known as Demerara or Muscovado, is the most natural product won from sugar cane. The processing of white sugar involves such chemicals as phosphoric acid, formic acid, sulfur dioxide and other bleaching agents which can affect health. Brown raw sugar in contrast, is totally free of additives and chemicals and contains, apart from carbohydrates, calcium, phosphor, iron and potassium.
White Rice vs. Brown Rice
Both varieties derive from the same plant. After harvesting, rice is run through a huller to remove the outer grain husks. The result is brown rice. White rice is further processed by removing the germs and bran and thereafter, the grain is polished. White rice has much less vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, magnesium and iron than brown rice. Polishing removes the aleurone layer of the grain, which is filled with essential fats. The process for example destroys 90% of vitamin B6. Oil in brown rice, which is absent in white rice, lowers cholesterol. One cup of brown rice provides 14% of the daily need for fiber and 27% of selenium, a trace mineral which can reduce the risk of colon cancer.
White Fish vs. Oily Fish
White fish like cod, haddock, place, sole and monkfish feed in deep water. They are a valuable source of protein and the white color of the flesh comes from the near absence of lipid. Lipid provides the valuable omega 3 polyunsaturated fats. Although it’s not present in the flesh, it’s found in the liver.
Oily fish or dark fish like sprats, tuna, herring and mackerel feed near the surface of the sea. Lipids are found in their flesh which gives it the dark color. Salmon and trout are similar to the oily fish. The protein contained in fish is such, that it can cover the entire need of the body for protein and the benefits for cardiovascular health provided by omega 3 fats are well known.
Fish generally is a healthy food and whether the choice is white or dark is more a question of taste than of benefit.
White Meat vs. Dark Meat
White meat refers to poultry although chicken and turkey have white and dark parts (breast and thighs). White parts are thought to contain less calories, but the difference is not very great, provided both are consumed skinless (which contains most of the fat) and not smothered in gravy. The custom of offering the best of chicken or turkey, i.e the white parts to the guest of honor at a meal has probably more to do with the absence of bone and a finer taste than nutritional or health values.
It can be concluded that white foods as opposed to dark or brown foods, are in some instances (tea, yogurt) definitely healthier, but for the majority of foods, contemplated in this series, rather the opposite is true or else there is no great difference except taste.
This post is part of the series: “White” Foods - Genuine Health Benefits of just Myth?
Learn about the advantages or disadvantages of white foods such as: egg white, white tea, white chocolate, white bread, rice and sugar and white meat and fish. Health benefits of white fruit like coconut and bananas. Balance between truth and myth.