The Breadisode. Yes, You Can Eat Bread But... (The Health Benefits of Bread)

The Health Benefits Of Bread

Bread, a staple food in many cultures worldwide, often gets a bad rap due to its carbohydrate content. However, not all bread is created equal, and certain types can contribute to a healthy diet. Read on to discover the health benefits of bread, healthiest types, and address common questions and fallacies about bread consumption.

Is Bread Healthy?

Yes, bread can be healthy when chosen wisely and consumed in moderation. Bread provides essential nutrients, including dietary fiber, iron, and B vitamins. Whole grain bread, in particular, offers several health benefits.

Whole grains are rich in fiber, which keeps you feeling full for longer periods, helping to manage weight and control blood sugar levels. Additionally, whole grains may lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even some forms of cancer.

However, a major goal of health conscious people is to prioritize whole proteins in their diet. Yet bread is often smothered in jams, butter, honey etc. and eaten up without the corresponding protein necessary to create a balanced healthy meal.

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Bread Itself Isn’t Necessarily A Problem

So, the bread itself often isn’t necessarily the culprit, but eating it along with simple sugars, and lack of protein, is a problem.

Bread itself isn't necessarily a problem, but high carb, low protein diets definitely are a problem.

Breads are often added to meals with otherwise large enough portions of carbs. For example, a traditional roast beef meal often comes with healthy veggies and a potato or two. This, by itself, it a fairly healthy, balanced meal with good forms of protein, fat, carbs, and includes veggies. But if you throw in a roll on top, you are adding as much as 240 calories, NOT including the butter of other toppings you might put on the roll.

Here is the calorie count of various bread based sides:

  • Biscuits and gravy, about 700 calories
  • Croissant (medium size), 300-400 calories
  • Bagel, 195
  • Baguette (1 slice), 86
  • Banana bread, 111
  • Bran muffin, 180
  • Bread with seeds, 120
  • Brown bread, 123
  • Small pancake, 86
  • Cornbread, 182
  • Focaccia, 148
  • Hot dog bun, 211
  • Melba toast, 7 (!!!)
  • Pita bread, 144
  • Pretzel (1 snack size), 259
  • Dinner roll, 240
  • Shortcrust pastry, 435
  • Sourdough bread slice, 93
  • Tortilla wrap, 179
  • White bread, 39
  • Yorkshire pudding, 60

Too often, breads are an addition to an already healthy, balanced meal, adding unnecessary calories.

For the above examples, you can see how many of them may be added to an already balanced meal, so as tasty as they are, too often they are adding unhealthy, un-needed calories and simple sugars to what would otherwise be healthy meals.

Be Mindful Of What You Eat

The lesson here is to be mindful. All of the examples above can be part of a healthy diet. However, it’s really easy to eat too many these types of foods, not enough protein, and gain weight over time from the inadvertent addition of calories that these delicious, inexpensive foods provide.

A balanced meal consists of a healthy portion of protein (highest priority), a little bit of healthy fat, and ONE portion of healthy carbs, along with some fruit and veggies. Veggies and fruit are already carbs, so more often than not breads are being added on top of a healthy meal, rather than taking a well proportioned place along with the other macro nutrients.

A balanced meal consists of a healthy portion of protein (highest priority), a little bit of healthy fat, and ONE portion of healthy carbs.

Healthiest Types of Bread

  • Whole Grain Bread: Whole grain bread is made from whole grain flour, meaning all parts of the grain — the bran, germ, and endosperm — are used. This results in a bread high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Sprouted Grain Bread: Sprouted grain bread is made from whole grains that have been allowed to sprout, or germinate, before being milled into flour. Sprouting increases the bio-availability of nutrients and decreases the presence of anti-nutrients, which can interfere with the absorption of minerals in your body. The anti-nutrients in bread aren’t a great concern for most people, but if you are a vegan or vegetarian you ought to learn more about them and probably only eat sprouted bread.
  • Sourdough Bread: Sourdough bread is made through a fermentation process that helps break down gluten, making it easier for some people to digest. It also has a lower glycemic index than many other types of bread, meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar levels as much. However be a label reader, as it’s higher in calories and carbs than other types of bread.

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Sourdough and Sprouted grain breads two excellent bread choices.

How Much is Too Much?

Like any food, bread should be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Over-consumption can contribute to weight gain and other health issues, particularly if you’re eating types of bread high in refined grains and added sugars.

Here are my personal guidelines for bread consumption, for what it’s worth:

  • Max 2 slices a day. I only eat 2 types of bread, Dave’s Killer Bread, or sourdough. I prefer both of them toasted.
  • I have an almost zero tolerance policy for rolls, white bread, croutons etc. Generally, all they do is add more calories and carbs to a meal. Chances are, a meal with an added bread already has starchy carbs such as potatoes, sweet potatoes or rice, so extra bread is a pure weight gainer.
  • In other words, if I have bread, that’s the only caloric carb I’m going to have with that meal. Eggs and toast with salsa on top, for example. A Tuna sandwich, with lots of tuna, light on mayo or dressings, with a salad.

Consider limiting bread consumption to 2 portions a day. Eliminate empty calorie "add on" breads such as croutons and rolls, and choose top tier breads such as sprouted grain and sourdough.

Does Toasting Bread Break Down the Glutens?

Toasting bread does not break down gluten. Gluten is a protein that can withstand heat up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, far hotter than a typical toaster can generate. Therefore, toasting bread will not make it safe for individuals with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Types Of Bread To Avoid

Avoid bread made from refined grains, such as white bread, as they lack the fiber and nutrients found in whole grains. Also, steer clear of breads with added sugars and preservatives. Always read the ingredient list to ensure you’re choosing a healthy option.

Final Thoughts About Bread And Its Health Benefits

A well made, healthy Bread is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, which provide your body with energy. Additionally, whole grain bread is a good source of prebiotics, which promote gut health by feeding beneficial bacteria.

Bread has been demonized in some dietary circles, but it can be part of a healthy diet when chosen wisely and eaten in moderation. Opt for whole grain, sprouted grain, or sourdough varieties, avoid breads with added sugars and preservatives, and make sure you aren’t adding bread to a meal that already has enough carbs.

 

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