Scientists Are Creating a Healthy White Bread

White bread is known for its favorable texture and low content of important nutrients — especially compared to its whole wheat or multigrain counterparts — but that may soon change.

White bread may be many people’s first choice for its taste, texture, and appearance, but it’s not always the healthiest choice. And researchers at Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom are trying to change that.

After receiving significant funding for their project, university researchers are studying the milling and blending process for white flour alongside organic millers at Shipton Mill in the hopes of increasing its nutritional value.

This could involve adding peas, beans, and oats to wheat flour to boost its protein and fiber content — two nutrients that are often lacking in white bread.

“This is a very exciting opportunity to improve people’s diets, especially those who favor the look and sensory attributes of white bread,” said Catherine Howarth, Ph.D., one of the researchers at Aberystwyth, in a news release. “The project underlines how our leading plant research here in Wales can make a difference to people’s lives. We hope this will be another chance to put our work, especially on beans, peas and oats, to very good use.”

White bread is usually made using wheat flour, but the bran and germ are removed during the milling process — creating a lighter-colored flour that is typically less nutritionally dense.

The university is already recognized as a leading center for the development of new oat, bean, and pea varieties. In the UK, 65% of all oats are grown from varieties developed at Aberystwyth.

The project is still in its very early stages, but it could eventually result in a new, healthier white bread variety on store shelves.

Another similar project has been underway at the University of Reading, also in the UK, for several years now. Together with Rothamsted Research and the John Innes Centre, the team has identified wheat lines with up to double the normal fiber content in white flour and is developing novel high-fiber types of wheat for UK farmers.

Research shows that 90% of the UK population does not consume enough fiber, with an average intake of 18g per day compared to the recommended intake of 30g per day for adults.

Eating plenty of fiber has major health benefits, including protecting the heart, helping to maintain digestive health, and keeping you feeling full. It has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and some cancers, including colorectal cancer.

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