Whole Wheat Bread Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Orowheat whole wheat bread

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Whole wheat bread is generally considered a nutritious addition to a well-rounded diet and can be an excellent choice for boosting whole grain intake. While nutritional value can vary based on brand and recipe, whole wheat bread tends to be associated with a number of health benefits.

The USDA encourages making half your grains whole grains, and whole wheat bread falls squarely into this category. Whole wheat bread is made from flour that contains the entire wheat kernel, including the bran and germ. It’s here that wheat packs the most nutrients, such as fiber, iron, and potassium. Leaving the wheat kernel intact makes for a less processed, more nutritious bread.

Whole Wheat Bread Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information for one slice (43g) of whole wheat bread has been provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 80
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 170mg
  • Carbohydrates: 20g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Sugars: 4g
  • Protein: 5g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Calcium: 9.03mg
  • Iron: 1mg
  • Potassium: 95mg


Whole wheat bread is loaded with complex carbohydrates, which take longer for the body to process and tend to impact blood sugar at a slow, steady pace. An average slice contains anywhere from about 12 to 20 grams of total carbohydrates, a significant amount of which are fiber (3 grams per slice).

Some whole wheat breads may have additional carbs from added sugars. These can be found in the “Added Sugars” line of a nutrition facts label. 


Unless whole wheat bread is made with added oil, it contains no fat. Check ingredient labels to see if oils have been used in store-bought bread.


Whole wheat isn’t just a good source of complex carbs—it’s also high in plant-based protein. A single slice of whole wheat bread can contain up to 5 grams of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

The vitamins and minerals in whole wheat bread can vary widely, depending on what a manufacturer chooses to add through enrichment and/or fortification. Most whole wheat breads contain small amounts (under 10% RDI) of iron, potassium, and B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. If a recipe includes salt, the bread will also contain sodium.


One slice (43g) of whole wheat bread provides 80 calories.

Health Benefits

Whole wheat bread offers a number of heath benefits, from boosting digestive and heart health to lowering the risk of several serious conditions.

Promotes Healthy Digestion

Whole wheat bread contains insoluble fiber, or fiber that does not dissolve in water, which is a critical nutrient for digestive health. Not only does it help you have regular bowel movements, but it also paves the way for healthy gut bacteria to thrive. This “pre-biotic” effect, which describes fiber acting as food for the beneficial gut bacteria, has been found to boost colonic health and fortify the immune system.

Dietary fiber also slows digestion, prevents constipation, and helps regulate how the body processes sugar, which can assist blood sugar levels in rising gradually.

May Reduce the Risk of Digestive Cancer

In a meta-analysis of 35 studies, comparing high whole grain intake to low whole grain intake, researchers found that individuals who ate the highest amount of whole grains had a decreased risk of certain digestive cancers.

Specifically, researchers found that eating whole grains reduced the risk of esophagus cancer by 47%, gastric cancer by 36%, and colorectal cancer by 11%. It should be noted that this research focused mainly on individuals within the United States and Europe, and more studies are still needed to further explore the relationship between consuming whole grains and digestive cancer risk.

Boosts Heart Health

Whole grains have long been touted for heart health. A landmark 2016 study in the British Medical Journal revealed that eating more whole grains, specifically three or more servings (90 grams) per day, was associated with significantly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.

Another study that followed adult participants for 18 years, tracking their health data every four years, found that whole grain intake was associated with decreased abdominal fat, cholesterol, and high blood sugar, which are all risk factors for heart conditions. The researchers noted that replacing refined grains with whole grains may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

May Lower the Risk of Stroke

In a meta-analysis that focused on whole grain consumption and stroke risk, findings indicated that higher whole grain consumption directly linked to reduced stroke risk in American populations. These findings held up even after a follow up that took place at least 10 years later.

Researchers believe that whole grains may reduce the risk of stroke because their vitamin, mineral, and fiber content supports how the body handles inflammation, a major contributor to stroke risk.

May Reduce the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

A 2018 review in the journal Nutrients concluded that multiple studies have “consistently demonstrated” that a higher intake of whole grain foods is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in various populations. This holds up even when adjusting for lifestyle factors, such as BMI, smoking, alcohol intake, eating habits, and physical activity, as long as the individual is consistent with their whole grain consumption and aims for two to three servings per day (60-90 grams).

Helps With Weight Management

In a meta-regression analysis of 12 studies and a meta-analysis of nine studies, researchers found that consuming more whole grains was associated with a decreased risk of weight gain, even during follow ups that took place between four and 20 years later. They also noted that when whole grain intake went up, BMI tended to go down. Researchers note that further studies are still needed to clarify the relationship between whole grain intake and weight management over time.


Wheat allergies impact millions of Americans, including children and adults, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. If you have a wheat allergy, you’ll need to steer clear of not only whole wheat bread itself, but also any of its byproducts, such as bread crumbs.

If you have a wheat allergy, you can always explore alternative types of bread, such as those made with 100% rye, pumpernickel, or oats. With these stand-ins, you’ll reap the benefits of eating whole grains, without the risk of an allergic reaction.

Adverse Effects

People who need a low-fiber or low-carbohydrate diet may need to limit whole wheat bread, as it may not be compatible with these special diets, especially in large quantities. People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity will also need to keep whole wheat bread off the menu, since wheat contains gluten.


Breads labeled as whole wheat are made with just wheat grains and may come flavored with honey or in white whole wheat varieties. White whole wheat bread is also made with the intact wheat kernel and is just a different variety of wheat than traditional whole wheat bread.

Breads labeled as whole grain may contain other grains besides wheat, such as millet, oats, or barley.

Storage and Food Safety

The countertop or bread box are generally safe places to store purchased whole wheat bread, as it’s intended to be shelf-stable. At room temperature, whole wheat bread should last anywhere from four days to a week. However, some breads with fewer preservatives, including homemade whole wheat bread, may do better in the refrigerator if you don’t plan to use them within a couple of days.

If you’re a one-slice-every-few-days household, stash whole wheat bread in the freezer. It will keep its quality for about three months and may still be safe to eat after that, though with a decreased level of freshness. Thaw frozen bread at room temperature or pop individual slices in the toaster to refresh them more quickly. 

Be sure to keep bread tightly wrapped in its original packaging or in plastic wrap. If you notice any mold, it's best to throw out the bread, instead of just cutting away the moldy part. In soft foods like bread, moldy roots can easily penetrate deeper than may be visible to the naked eye.

How to Prepare

For store-bought whole wheat bread, there’s not much preparation needed. However, what you serve along with your bread can impact the healthfulness of a meal or snack. Some simple-to-prep ideas include a hummus and veggie sandwich, avocado toast, or a PB&J with lower-sugar jelly. You might also consider using whole wheat bread as a base for garlic bread alongside dinner, or pulsing toasted slices in the food processor for higher-fiber bread crumbs to coat baked chicken or sprinkle atop casseroles.

12 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. United States Department of Agriculture. Make half your grains whole grains.

  2. United States Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Whole wheat bread.

  3. Slavin J. Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients. 2013;5(4):1417-35. doi:10.3390/nu5041417

  4. Harvard School of Public Health. Fiber.

  5. Zhang, XF., Wang, XK., Tang, YJ. et al. Association of whole grains intake and the risk of digestive tract cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysisNutr J. 2020;19(1):52. doi:10.1186/s12937-020-00556-6

  6. Aune D, Keum N, Giovannucci E, et al. Whole grain consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all cause and cause specific mortality: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMJ. 2016;353:i2716. doi:10.1136/bmj.i2716

  7. Sawicki CM, Jacques PF, Lichtenstein AH, et al. Whole- and refined-grain consumption and longitudinal changes in cardiometabolic risk factors in the framingham offspring cohortThe Journal of Nutrition. 2021;151(9):2790-2799. doi:10.1093/jn/nxab177

  8. Fang L, Li W, Zhang W, Wang Y, Fu S. Association between whole grain intake and stroke risk: evidence from a meta-analysisInt J Clin Exp Med. 2015;8(9):16978-16983.

  9. Della pepa G, Vetrani C, Vitale M, Riccardi G. Wholegrain intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: evidence from epidemiological and intervention studies. Nutrients. 2018;10(9):1288. doi:10.3390/nu10091288

  10. Maki KC, Palacios OM, Koecher K, et al. The relationship between whole grain intake and body weight: results of meta-analyses of observational studies and randomized controlled trialsNutrients. 2019;11(6):1245. doi:10.3390/nu11061245

  11. American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Wheat.

  12. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Molds on foods: are they dangerous?

By Sarah Garone, NDTR
Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a freelance health and wellness writer who runs a food blog.