Don’t be afraid of bread!

The risks involved with eliminating core food groups when following current fad diets has led to deficiencies of essential nutrients and the onset of chronic diet-related disease. One, is the often ‘trendy’ low carb diet that reduces the intake of carbohydrate sources such as breads and cereals. This food group is often a valuable source of B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, selenium and dietary fibre.    CATE KEEN. WAVE NUTRITION.

From 2009 it became mandatory for all bread manufacturers to fortify their products with folate and iodine. Fortification has been necessary to help reduce nutrient deficiencies that were otherwise lacking from poor vegetable intake. The addition of these nutrients has significantly reduced the incidence of neural tube defects and thyroid related conditions. 

With the low intake of breads and cereals and less than 4% of the population consuming the recommended intake of vegetables, should we worry that we are not receiving the essential nutrients from the other food groups? I think the simple answer is YES. There is a reason why the food groups originated and why the government focuses on the ‘Australian Guide to Healthy Eating’ for education purposes. Variety, balance and moderation is key to overall improved health and wellbeing. Nutrients have a synergistic relationship with each other, and a wide range of nutrients can only be sourced from a wide range of foods. If you eliminate this food group you eliminate a large part of your intake of B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium and dietary fibre. 

Like any processed foods, we need to consider the content of sodium, sugars and total carbs and endeavour to consume foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. The trick is to choose the wholefood and minimally processed versions that retain nutrients and eliminate the need for unnecessary synthetic additives. 

WHAT IS THE HEALTHIEST BREAD?

There is nothing like fresh sliced bread, so within moderation, and if you can tolerate it, why should you exclude it from your diet. I have compared white, whole meal, mixed wholegrain and sprouted grain bread to help determine the healthier and more nutrient dense choices for you. 

When choosing your breads remember to read your product labels and consider these options:

Low sodium – Less than 300mg per 100g

Low sugar – Less than 3g per 100g

Good source of protein – More than 6g per 100g

Good source of fibre – More than 3g per serve

Grain breads are often higher in fibre, protein and contain fewer total carbohydrates and sugar, so these are considered the best option for health. They have also been clinically proven to help lower total cholesterol and are a regulator for blood glucose levels. As a second option, choose a wholemeal variety. You will find that these are also higher in fibre and protein than your white counterpart and are often fortified with added iron or calcium as well. This option may be appropriate for those that dislike the seed/grains or young children. 

Type Fibre Sodium Protein Carbohydrate Sugar
White 3g 450mg 9.5g 44g 3g
Wholemeal 7.5g 400mg 8g 38g 1g
Mixed Whole grain 6g 420mg 11g 36g 2g
Sprouted Grain 8.5g 300mg 15g 30g 1g

WHAT IS SPROUTED GRAIN BREAD?

Sprouted grain breads are made from various grains and legumes that have sprouted and then processed. This method of processing enables nutrients to be more bioavailable and has proven to be more easily digestible, thus lowering the likelihood of bloat. These breads are often combined with legumes which can provide a complete protein with all essential amino acids. This makes it a great option for those that are often intolerant to more refined carbohydrates and/or gluten but also a great choice for vegetarians.

WHAT IF YOU DON’T LIKE BREAD?

Many people will be offended if I tell them they must eat crunchy seedy bread for the rest of their life, so yes there are alternatives. Wraps are a great choice if you prefer some variety in your diet. My pick would have to be the Vitastic Sorj wraps with less than 300mg of sodium per 100g, less than 2g of sugar, 5 grams of fibre and an average of 10g of protein. With a choice of corn, rye, white or wholemeal, this option will appeal to all tastes. 

For those that consume bread products on a regular basis, consider the options below:

English muffin – 66g and 139cal (Lower in calories, carbs and sodium). 

Mountain bread – 25g and 74cal (A good option for wraps, however do tend to break apart). What sets Mountain bread and English muffins apart from the rest is their serving size. Their numbers aren’t impressive per 100g, however their serving sizes are smaller. These breads don’t become the focus of the meal, yet they are just the glue that holds the other nutritious components together. Mountain bread wraps around a myriad of salad vegetables and English muffins become a simple base for a meal of fibre-rich carbs, lean protein and healthy fats.

The bottom line is, if you consume breads but only on occasion, choose the option that tastes the best to you. Not everyone is a lover of crunchy grains in their foods and It’s not worth fighting over a few calories when you don’t indulge that often. On the plus side, all bread options in moderation provide a diet that is rich in B vitamins, folate, iron, manganese, selenium and fibre. So please don’t exclude any food group from your diet, your health depends on it. 

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