Just hearing "whole grain" makes me think of those cheesy Cheerios commercials where women are always the target of the "I lost weight by switching to whole grains" marketing ploy. Yes, switching from white bread to whole wheat could help you lose weight, but that shouldn't be your motivation. You'd be surprised to hear how bad white bread/flour/cakes/cookies are for you...so, of course, I'm going to tell you!
Junk foods, like soda made with sugar and, in this case, scones, brownies, white bread and crackers made from white flour contribute to the rise in diabetes in our country, for one thing. And sure, you can be genetically predisposed to the condition, but these genes only get turned on when you eat the white stuff. If you're at risk for diabetes, that should be enough right there to make the switch. But I'll keep going.
There's a reason for the saying "The whiter the bread, the quicker you're dead!" — and if you haven't heard it said before, now you know that white flour can also raise your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol, in turn increasing your risk for blood clots and high blood pressure. So again — anyone who has high blood pressure should be tossing the Wonder Bread in the trash right about now. Feed it to the squirrels or ducks or drop any unopened packages off at a food pantry so at least you don't have guilt about "wasting food because there are starving children in Africa." There are starving children everywhere, I might add.
If you're still in doubt because you don't think you're at risk for diabetes OR high blood pressure, I strongly urge you to pick up a copy of Gary Taubes' book Good Calories, Bad Calories. In it you'll find that refined (white) flour can also contribute to higher rates of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimers and a lengthy list of other ailments both minor and major.
Can I spell it out for you any further? Let me also challenge all of your excuses. My kids don't like whole-wheat bread. Cry me a river. Trust me, they won't starve if you make the switch. THEY WILL GET USED TO IT. They may even start to like it. Is it the husband or wife who's stubborn on the issue? Make them read this and give them a swift kick in the pants. Tell them you want them to be around to see your grandchildren get married, not just your children. Think it's too expensive? Believe me, if you're leaving the refined-flour crackers, cookies and coffee cake in the grocery store you'll have much more room and funds for the whole-wheat bread instead. And don't even try to make the excuse that whole-wheat products are hard to find, because that's just not true any more. Just don't be fooled by something that says "wheat" or "made with" whole grains — it has to be labeled 100% whole grain, and turn the product over to check the label, too. Lisa Leake at 100 Days of Real Food has a great article on this if you're still hungry for more information.
I admit, my excuse I sometimes don't even realize until in hindsight — that a recipe calls for "four thick slices of country bread," and something like that IS hard for me to find in a whole-wheat version. So in my case now I've learned to read the whole recipe. What is the bread being used for, bread crumbs? Whole-wheat bread crumbs DO exist, honey, and I'll even go so far as to say that Whole Foods carries a kind that is super crunchy and delicious and would make a great crispy topping or binding agent in any meal. So even when you're doing a good thing by cooking at home, NOW you need to take that extra step also and convert the recipe to whole grains. We'll move on to sugar and saturated/trans fats in future posts, but for now keep taking this one step at a time. Let me know how you've learned to swap out white flour in recipes or what great whole-grain products or purveyors you've fallen in love with. It feels good to make the switch — eliminating white flour can also reduce bloat and, as insinuated above, assist in weight loss. So if you can't JUST do it for your health, do it for vanity. I don't care what your motivation is to start, because you'll reap the rewards either way in the end.
Next up: The Building Blocks of Nutrition, Part Two — Carbohydrates