Unravelling Thoughts on Bread - "Should I Eat This?"
Updated: Jan 16
Why is bread on the top of many people's "forbidding food" list? When was the last time you ate a sandwich on TWO slices of bread? Time to break bread together and outline why you should eat bread (all types), slice by slice.
Before we get into it - remember the answer is always* yes! You should eat this food!
*Always being defined as: ALL FOODS (yes every single food item) can and should be enjoyed UNLESS you are allergic, intolerant, or truly do not like the food*
The Evolution of Bread
In today's world, bread's reputation has taken a huge hit because of eating trends (aka diet culture) like keto, gluten free, and just general fear of carbs. Because of the anti-carb news blowing up the media, people tend to forget the many, many benefits that whole grains provide for our health.
What is the Difference Between Whole Grains and Refined Grains?
Here is the difference - whole grains contain the entire grain kernel (bran, germ, and endosperm) and refined grains are stripped of the bran and germ, so they only contain the endosperm. So yes, white bread, and other refined grain products, are not as nutrient dense as whole grain products, BUT that doesn't mean you should not eat them! Refined grains definitely have their place in our diets - especially if you are looking for some pre-workout fuel. Carbohydrates are also our body's main source of energy - yes carbs are super important for our body to function properly!
What is Gluten?
Gluten is actually a protein found in wheat (along with globulin and albumin). Since it is a protein, it has the potential to cause an immune response, aka, celiac disease. For more scientific information about gluten and wheat genetics, check out this very informative article from Today's Dietitian.
The Sourdough Trend
One of the things I learned during this quarantine period, along with a ton of others, is how to make sourdough bread! Sourdough actually does not use yeast to make the bread rise, like most other breads. This bread variety uses a naturally created leavening agent along with lactic acid bacteria to help the bread rise. Nutritionally speaking, a slice of sourdough has a similar nutrition profile to other breads. The fermentation process that happens when making sourdough not only improves the flavor of the bread, but also offers other health benefits like increased absorption of certain minerals and makes it easier to digest. Sourdough also has a lower gluten content, which may make it easier to tolerate for those who are sensitive to gluten.
In the Name of Health
In general, whole grains are very nutrient dense - loaded with B vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, various minerals, and protein! The fiber in whole grains is known as a prebiotic, which helps feed and grow healthy gut bacteria (prebiotics are basically food for probiotics). By having a healthy gut, we are also helping our immune system stay in balance. Also something to keep in mind, all fiber is not created equal. Fiber from whole grains may exhibit different health benefits compared to fiber from fruits and vegetables, which is why variety in the diet is key.
SO - all in all, whole grains have a host of health benefits and should be included in an intuitively balanced diet.
As with most foods, unless you are only eating bread, everyday, for every meal, everyday of your life - enjoying bread in a balanced, well-rounded, intuitively driven diet, full of variety (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and fat), sounds like an awesome choice!
Should I Eat This?
Yes, of course! Eat the bread! Whole wheat, multigrain, sourdough, rolls, English muffins, bagels, etc - which ever you prefer! (Unless you are allergic, cannot tolerate bread, or straight up do not like it!) There are a ton of whole grain options out there - breads, rice, quinoa, farro, freekeh, barley, oatmeal, wheat berries - the list goes on and on. Make French toast on whole grain bread for breakfast, a sandwich on sourdough bread for lunch, a dinner roll with dinner, and of course breads and other whole grains can be enjoyed as snacks and dessert!
Things to consider when browsing the bread aisle:
You may need to do some label reading in the bread aisle. Yes, there is a difference between "wheat," "whole wheat," "whole grain," "multigrain," "seven grain," etc - just because the bread is a brown color, does not mean it is a whole grain product. Check the ingredient list and make sure that whole-wheat flour, or some other whole grain variety is listed as the first ingredient!!
A simple thing to look for is the 100% Whole Grain Stamp (a yellow square) that signifies the product contains at least 16g of whole grains per serving and that all of the gains in that product are whole grains.
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