Most American wheat is hard red wheat, but about 10 to 15 percent of what’s grown in the United States now is hard white wheat, which was developed by removing the genes responsible for the bran’s color (think of it as albino wheat). It’s not new—Australia and China grow lots of it.
Whole white wheat looks and tastes like refined wheat (which has had the bran and germ removed) but is in fact the whole grain, with all its nutrients, fiber, and health benefits. It’s used in many commercial baked goods (including Wonder Whole Grain White Bread) because of its soft texture and light color, which many Americans prefer (at least those who like regular white bread), as well as in some noodles, crackers, and cereals.
Another plus is that food companies that make products with whole white wheat don’t need to add as much sugar because the grain has lower amounts of the strong and bitter-tasting polyphenolic compounds and tannins that are plentiful in red wheat. But be aware that as with other whole grains, whole white wheat is often blended with “enriched wheat,” which is always refined wheat.
If you’re buying bread, crackers, or baking mixes, check the ingredients. “Whole wheat” is the best choice, whether it is whole white wheat or more conventional whole red wheat. It should be 100 percent whole wheat, or else whole wheat mixed with other whole grains, such as oats.