You may love nothing more than freshly baked sourdough bread from the markets on weekends as a treat, but most of the time we pick up a loaf in the weekly supermarket shop. So with an ever-growing range of options, which are the best bread choices nutritionally? Here’s all the information you need to make the best bread choice for you and your family.
Bread has been a dietary staple for thousands of years. It’s a rich source of B-group vitamins, which are crucial for energy production. Less processed varieties also offer an array of other nutrients including dietary fibre, vitamin E, zinc, iron and unsaturated fats, which is generally why loaves of grain-based bread tend to contain more fat than white bread.
Apart from the distinct nutrient profiles of white and grain-based breads, the other major and most significant difference from a health perspective is the varying glycaemic index (GI). Since white, wholemeal and flat breads have all had their grains ground down in their processing, they have a relatively high GI compared to wholegrain bread, which means they release glucose into the bloodstream much more quickly than wholegrain varieties.
Over time, this means choosing processed breads as a dietary staple will result in regular glucose peaks and troughs, along with a subsequent insulin release. High insulin levels over time are related to weight gain and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Generally speaking, the more grains the bread has, the better it will be for you.
Generally speaking, the more grains the bread has, the better it will be for you, with soy and linseed loaves a standout due to their high polyunsaturated fat content. Polyunsaturated fats have been shown to have a number of health benefits long term, including reducing inflammation in the body.
While wholemeal bread contains more dietary fibre than standard white bread, it’s still a high GI choice. Turkish bread is perhaps the worst of all, with its combination of large serving sizes, holes that readily get filled with butter or margarine and large amounts of white flour, giving it its high GI and carbohydrate load.
Sourdough is another popular choice and although it has a lower GI than regular white bread, keep in mind that the serving sizes also tend to be large, which may contribute to a calorie overload if you’re trying to lose body fat.
The average adult needs just two to four slices of bread each day – but be mindful of the size. Some large, thick slices of bread can contain up to double the amount of carbohydrates and really aren’t necessary for the majority of us.
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