Most people know that white bread is a diet don’t: One of the easiest swaps you can make for a major health boost is ditching refined flour in favor of whole wheat. But it’s not just that loaf of Wonder Bread that you need to watch out for. The basket of rolls delivered to the table when dining out, the French baguette you grab on your way home to accompany dinner, your Saturday-morning bagel ritual, and Friday pizza night all come with a side of less-than-desirable health risks. Here are five unpleasant reasons to nix the bread basket:
1. Erratic blood-sugar levels. “Since there is no fiber or protein to slow digestion, white bread is digested and absorbed rapidly. This leads to blood sugar’s rising quickly,” says Palinski-Wade. This spike — and subsequent crash — in blood sugar not only leads to irritability, but will leave you headed to the vending machine for a pick-me-up.
2. Increased risk of type-2 diabetes. “When blood sugar elevates rapidly, excess insulin is released into the bloodstream to push the sugar into the cell,” says Palinski-Wade. “When this occurs on a regular basis, cells become more insulin resistant, making it harder over time to control blood-glucose (sugar) levels. Research published in 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition supports this, finding that people who consumed several servings of whole grains per day — and limited intake of refined grains — had less of a type of fat that increases risk of type 2 diabetes.
3. No nutritional value. Yes, food is delicious, but at the end of the day we are eating for one reason: to nourish our bodies. And white bread fails to accomplish this goal. “When a grain is refined, such as in the making of flour for white bread, the outermost and innermost layers of the grain are removed. This removes the fiber and some (25 percent) protein, leaving behind the starch,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies. Opting for whole-grain varieties carries with it a dose of healthy fiber and more protein, adding a nutritional boost to meals.
4. Depression. It may taste good going down, but that white bread can negatively affect your mood. New research published in the June 2015 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a link between the consumption of refined carbohydrates and depression in post-menopausal women. The same hormonal response that causes blood-sugar levels to drop can also cause mood swings, fatigue, and other symptoms of depression.
5. Weight gain. After eating refined carbohydrates like white bread, the surplus of sugar in your bloodstream — unless immediately utilized for activity — tends to be stored as fat in the body. Plus, the blood-sugar crash will leave you hungry soon after ingesting, so you’ll be reaching for another snack. “Rapid digestion can increase hunger and cravings, leading to a lack of satiety after eating, which may result in increased caloric intake at the end of the day,” says Palinski-Wade.