A team of researchers at the (awesomely named) Flavor Research and Education Center at the University of Minnesota have taken a serious look at why people prefer white bread to whole wheat, despite the darker loaves’ proven health benefits. The answer? It’s all about the smell.
Co-director Devin Peterson and his team of flavor scientists took samples of wheat bread and white bread and ran them through a series of smelling tests.The bran in wheat bread contains ferulic acid, which gave off “malty, earthy, cucumber, fatty smells.” White bread (which contains no bran, and thus no ferulic acid) smelled like “corn chips, potatoes, caramel, and flowers.”
Looks like white bread wins the scent test, but whole-grains are still the healthier (albeit stinkier) option. Maybe someday we’ll get a sweet-smelling superbread with all the health benefits of whole wheat, but until then, health-conscious eaters can enjoy their earth-flavored sandwiches and longer lifespans. I’d join them, but I’ll be too busy eating a white roll and smelling like roses.