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Whole wheat bread

Whole wheat bread through the centuries. In the Netherlands and Belgium, whole wheat bread and rye bread were for centuries the main food for a large part of the population.

In the past centuries only the top layer of the population ate white bread because the bread was more expensive and therefore it gave them a status. Around the year 1900 welfare increased across the population, so that "the people" began to eat more white bread.

The top layer of the population just ate from that time more whole wheat bread instead of white bread. The reason is that they discovered that whole wheat bread has more healthy benefits than white bread. A strong supporter of the consumption of whole wheat bread was the British doctor Thomas Allinson.

What is whole wheat bread exactly?

Whole wheat bread is made from whole wheat flour. For whole wheat flour the whole grain is milled. The major part of the vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber is located in the outer layer of the grain. Because the whole wheat grain is used in the preparation of whole wheat bread this type of bread has, compared to brown-white bread, the most of the vitamins (vitamin B, vitamin E), mineral (iron, calcium, phosphorus) and dietary fiber.

This information corresponds to the nutritional research of TNO Quality of Life. They have done a large national study of the nutritional value of many types of bread. For this breads from supermarkets and artisanal bakeries were investigated.

This research from 2008 showed that average whole wheat bread contains almost three times as much fiber as white bread (1 slice of wholemeal bread contains on average 2.3 grams fiber, white bread contains on average 0.8 grams fiber, brown bread contains on average 1.8 grams of fiber). These data are used for all the most recent food composition tables in the Netherlands.

White bread is made from wheat flour. White wheat flour contains only the endosperm, the rest is removed. Because the major part of the grain is removed, many of the nutrients are lost. Wholemeal bread is made from 100% whole wheat flour. Brown bread is made of a part of whole wheat flour and a part of white wheat flour. This blend is usually used in a ratio of 50:50.

Why do whole grains contain so many important nutrients?

This is because the grain is actually the seed from which a new plant can grow. Such a seed contains all the necessary nutrition for the young plant. But this also are precisely the nutrients that are good for humans.

How is the wheat grain processed or milled into wholemeal flour?

The processing can be done in 2 ways:

  • In the mills the grain is crushed, taken apart, divided into separate groups, sieved and then again brought in natural proportion together. This operation is legal. This happens to the flour to make it easier to storage and preserve (large silos) and to ensure a consistent product. For this purpose, the grain will be 'decomposed'. This happens with 95% of the grain.
  • 2.5% is directly ground into whole wheat flour. This takes place at small (wind) mills and in few cases at the bakery itself.


Health effects

By the use of whole wheat flour, where the brans are still in it, a whole wheat bread contains a lot of dietary fiber. By eating these fibers, the intestinal function is stimulated. Also, this has been associated with healthier blood levels for example LDL-cholesterol. Wholemeal bread has compared to brown or white bread a lower energetic value: there is less energy per sandwich. This is why eating whole wheat bread is more favorable in relation to the current rise in obesity.

How do you know you are buying whole wheat bread?

By daily fresh baked whole wheat bread the baker or the bakery store employee will give the information to the customer or it can be read on the card to the store shelf. For pre-packed bread the information is on the label or the employee in the bread department can help.

BRC Halal Kosher RSPO Skal

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