In the bread section of the local grocery store you notice a moderately new product called white wheat bread. It’s not called just bread, or even white bread, but white wheat bread. Is it somehow different from ordinary white bread? If that is so, in what way is it different? Is it a cause for concern? White wheat bread is a form of whole wheat bread. How can that be? Let’s look at the structure of wheat.
The cereal grain wheat is classified as a berry, variety caryopsis. As an ear of corn does not include the husk, a single wheat berry is the entire grain minus the husk. The berry exhibits a number of component layers. From the outside in, layers beneath the husk include the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. The bran includes fiber, B vitamins, and trace minerals. The endosperm is rich in protein and carbohydrates. Wheat germ is rich in antioxidants and vitamins B and E. Wheat germ is often milled out due to its relatively high fat content, which lessens flour shelf life.
Hard White Wheat
Hard white wheat was developed from hard red wheat. It is slightly sweeter and is lower in protein than red wheat, but otherwise is considered to be identical. White wheat contains less pigment. A pigment strand runs lengthwise down the center of a wheat berry, accounting for its color. Developers seek to increase the level of protein found in white wheat.
Currently, white wheat is more subject to weathering than red wheat. Although white wheat costs more than red wheat, it requires less processing, making it an attractive commodity. Lower processing means little or no bleaching is necessary to produce a white bread. The consumer is benefited by a decreased loss of nutrition.
White Wheat Bread
So, although a large percentage of the general public prefers it, ordinary white bread has undergone extensive processing, and with it, the loss of some nutrition. White wheat bread apparently overcomes this failing. But for many, white wheat still hasn’t been developed to the point where it can replace ordinary white bread on your grocer’s shelves.
- USDA: Federal Grain Inspection Service
- North Dakota State University: Hard White Wheat
- National Festival of Grains: Grain’s Anatomy: What Makes a Kernel of Wheat