Is White Whole Wheat Flour an Oxymoron?

IF you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know we advocate eating whole grain breads. In our five part bread minisereies back in November, we tried to cover the seemingly simple task of choosing bread at the supermarket.

While some breads are easy to classify as healthy (100% whole grains) and others as not (white breads made with refined flours), what happens when you come a bread that’s made with flour that is both white and 100% whole grain?

On the one hand white means refined, but on the other it says 100% whole grain.

What you need to know:

The flour used for our bread comes from several varieties that are grown in the US:

  • Hard Red Spring
  • Hard Red Winter
  • Hard White
  • Soft Red Winter
  • Soft White

Each one has certain characteristics, including color, protein content, gluten content, among others.

The difference between white whole-wheat bread and regular whole-wheat bread is in the type of wheat flour used. Regular whole-wheat bread is made with red wheat, which is dark in color and has a slightly bitter taste. White whole-wheat bread is made with a relatively new variety of wheat, which is lighter in color and has a sweeter, milder flavor.This variety is much more common in the UK.

Buyer beware: you still need to look for bread with 100% WHOLE WHEAT. In the above image, Wonder boasts

Made with Whole Grain White

But if you take a look at the ingredient list, you’ll see refined flour as the main ingredient, not the whole grain white.

What to do at the supermarket:

Don’t rely on the writing on the package itself to choose the best bread or other baked product. Carefully read the ingredient list and look for 100% Whole Grain Flour as the first and only flour ingredient. If there are additional flours in the list, they should be whole grains as well.

(Thanks Jess for suggesting this topic!)

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  • Dr. Susan Rubin

    Here are the ingredients:
    Whole wheat flour, water, wheat gluten, high fructose corn syrup, contains 2% of less of: soybean oil, salt, molasses, yeast, mono and diglycerides, exthoxylated mono and diglycerides, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium iodate, calcium dioxide), datem, calcium sulfate, vinegar, yeast nutrient (ammonium sulfate), extracts of malted barley and corn, dicalcium phosphate, diammonium phosphate, calcium propionate (to retain freshness).

    Whether its “whole wheat” or not, this alleged bread contains soybean oil and a boatload of chemicals. That soybean oil is darn likely to be GMO.
    I would recommend to my clients that this food is something you’d want to stay far far away from!

  • J in VA

    King Arthur sells white whole wheat flour to make your own.

  • Allison@KingArthurFlour

    And we have plenty of free recipes using white whole wheat flour so you can experiment with the flour not only in your homemade bread but lots of other baked goodies, too!

  • Monica

    Thanks for the info. I thought it was not possible for whole wheat flour to be white.

  • Mari

    I don’t know who they think they’re fooling with this white whole wheat crap… it just doesn’t make sense.

    This has been my current packaged bread of choice:

    It’s definitely not Wonderbread, but it’s been filling my need for a cheese cracker or something to put an egg on for a while now. My husband prefers it to be toasted. I like it either way. Super filling and its got the 41(forty-something) whole wheat sticker on it.

    I am having a difficult time decoding without that sticker for sure!

  • Jason

    I’ve been using sprouted-grain bread for a few years now and haven’t looked back. It contains ZERO flour and is quite hearty. You also needn’t worry about added preservatives and other crap. It’s usually found in the frozen section.

  • MealPlanMom(Brenda)

    I never buy white sandwich bread…I just don’t like the texture! So 100% whole wheat it is for us. But recently I’ve learned more about the white whole wheat flour that is available for all sorts of home baking. What are your thoughts on this? From what I can tell it is made from a lighter color wheat and is indeed whole wheat. Would love to know your thoughts too!