16 Dec Bread: a basis of our diet?
Bread is good for your health!
Distinguishing between bread eaten on its own and less healthy consumption habits
In order to understand why some dieticians criticise bread, we must make a distinction between bread eaten on its own and less healthy consumption habits.
- Bread eaten on its own, or with a spread: bread is low in fat, but consumption habits tend to dictate the addition of calorie-rich products, including butter, jam, honey, cheese, or sandwich fillings, such as meat. These consumption patterns are prompting consumers to equate bread with bread plus spread/topping.
- Fermented dough versus sweet, fat-rich dough: although flour, salt, water and yeast (basic dough ingredients) contain few calories, the result is very different after sugar, margarine, oil or butter, etc. have been added. We all love the incomparably melt-in-the-mouth texture of bread topped with a layer of jam or spread.
It is therefore sometimes easier to reject a product wholesale rather than fix a bad eating habit! In such matters of discernment, many dieticians prefer to reject it completely instead of trying to educate the consumer.
The dietetic and nutritional properties of bread
Low fat content: Bread today contains only 1% lipids, unsaturated fatty acids beneficial for the organism. These include linoleic acid, which plays a preventive role in cardio-vascular diseases. NB: sandwich bread, improved loaves and rusks often contain added fats.
Slow carbohydrate content: In our diet, it is important to distinguish between rapid-absorption carbohydrates (sugar, honey, fruit) and slow-absorption carbohydrates (mainly starch, which is found in starchy foods and bread (55 g for every 100 g). Slow carbohydrates produce a longer lasting satiety effect, a benefit recently rediscovered by sportsmen and women who ensure they have a high intake prior to training or prolonged exertion.
Fibre content: Bread contains varying amounts of dietary fibre depending on the type of flour used: 0.3% for white bread to over 1.5% for so-called wholemeal bread. Fibres, which are not assimilated by the organism, promote intestinal transit, while eliminating other substances and thus making some of the ingested calories ineffective.
Vitamin content: Bread is a source of B vitamins and magnesium, phosphorus, and iron, which promote growth and fight against cell ageing. (Wholemeal bread contains 3 times as much magnesium and Vitamin E as white bread).
Protein types: Bread is a source of vegetable proteins, which are low in fat and excellent for building muscle tissue.