Bread is sometimes given a bad rap, but not all bread is the same so let’s take a quick look at which ones are better for us.
Bread made from wheat contains gluten which can cause negative reactions in people with coeliac disease which is an auto immune condition caused by a reaction of the immune system to gluten. Also, those with a gluten sensitivity and irritable bowel syndrome can benefit from following a gluten free diet.
However, for a lot of people this is not a problem and they can tolerate grains and gluten.
Traditionally bread used to be healthier, but bread produced by the food industry nowadays is highly processed so avoid commercially made bread, especially the white variety, as it is full of refined flour and salt. Packaged and pre-sliced white bread contains sugar, salt and preservatives and additives.
It has NO nutritional value because the vitamins have been stripped during the bleaching process. White bread causes blood sugar spikes and does not fill you up!
So, which bread is better for us?
Providing you can tolerate grains and gluten:
- Choose darker, heavier varieties such as wholemeal and wholegrain bread as these contain the whole of the grain and provide you with fibre, b vitamins and minerals
- Granary bread has added bran and wheat germ so contains more fibre and it has a nutty richer taste. Rye bread is high in nutrients and fibre
- Sourdough is made from a sourdough starter culture (lactobaciius and yeast) and has a long fermentation process which makes it easier to digest so it is a good choice for those with intolerance/digestive issues. Its mildly sour taste is due to the lactic acid produced by the bacteria
- Sprouted bread, such as Ezekiel, is made from whole grains which are sprouted first
- This might make them easier to digest as the sprouting increases the activity of certain enzymes and reduces phytic acid which allows nutrients to be more easily digested. This is a good choice for people who have difficulty digesting regular wheat bread
- Buy your bread from a local bakery. It will not be as highly processed as packaged and pre-sliced loaves
- Better still, make bread at home. You will have control over the ingredients that go into it
- Invest in a bread maker and you can get adventurous with grains such as quinoa and buckwheat flour, nuts and seeds and sprouting grains. These will all increase the nutritional value and will be more filling and satisfying to eat. This can become an activity with kids
My tips when buying bread:
- The key is to read the label - just because the package looks super healthy, this may not be the case
- Make sure it says 100% wholemeal/wholegrain
- Avoid any bread that contains hyrdrogenated oil (trans fat) or sugar
- Ingredients are listed in descending order
- Look for the fibre content - should contain 7-8g per 100g
- Look for the salt content - less than 1g per 100g
And, of course it depends what you put on your bread as to whether it is healthy or not!