Updated: Feb 6, 2019
Is there anything better than a crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside fresh out of the oven loaf of bread?! Unless you are celiac or gluten intolerant, I think most of us l-o-v-e bread! Carbohydrates in general have been quite demonized in recent years and I want to dive deep into the nutritious value of bread, the importance of carbohydrates and tell you the best ways to eat them that are completely healthy.
Let's start with what a whole grain is comprised of: the bran, germ and endosperm. The bran (the outer coating) is rich in fibre, antioxidants and B vitamins. The germ (the innermost layer) is high in B vitamins and also contains minerals, protein and fat. The endosperm, (the middle) is the starchy part of the grain and it is mostly carbohydrates. These 3 components make up a whole grain.
Bread has been a staple food for many centuries in most countries around the world. Let's throw it back to the traditional preparation of bread, which is the combination of flour and water - that's it! The whole grain flour with all three components and water mixture combine with natural yeast and bacteria in the air which start to ferment the mixture, then gluten is formed from natural proteins, creating sourdough. This way of making bread creates lactic acid which results in lower glycemic bread than bread made from added yeast (most of the bread you find commercially), therefore the conversion of carbohydrates from sourdough to blood glucose is done slowly. An added bonus of having lactic acid present in sourdough, is that it helps to decrease the levels of phytic acid which normally inhibits the absorption of certain nutrients in grains, nuts and beans. That is how the process of bread started, really simple, no additives and healthy, although sourdough won't provide you with all of your nutritional requirements it is a healthier option, which tends to be less reactive and not as inflammatory to the body. So what happened? How did we get to the point of enriched and refined white flour, preservatives, added sugar, yeast, salt, colouring and partially hydrogenated oils in our bread? Well convenience and time are two huge factors. Adding in yeast to a bread mixture speeds up the gluten forming process, adding not only a longer shelf life, but a higher yield (more product, more money!). Therefore we loose the organic, naturally occurring nutritional benefits of traditional bread and get a large dose of additives, added gluten and preservatives. Not only has the process of creating bread become highly processed, companies are actually removing the bran and the germ (remember the 3 components above), leaving only the endosperm which is the starchy part of the grain. This removes a lot of the natural nutrition from the grain! To meet governments nutritional guidelines producers then add back (enrich) the bread with nutrients that our bodies most often cannot recognize. Isn't that interesting! Enriched and refined white flour is mainly found in foods like pizza, doughnuts, cookies, pasta, white bread, cereal, crackers etc. which are not normally labelled as health foods to begin with. These foods are pretty void of nutrition. What about multigrain bread? This means that the bread is made from MULTIple types of grains, however it does not mean that it was produced with the whole grain. Naturally grains are healthy for you, as stated above they provide protein, some vitamins, minerals, and healthy carbohydrates. However the readily available forms of white flour took over our marketplace and disrupted the way we see bread and carbohydrates as a whole macro-nutrient class. Natural starchy carbohydrates such as WHOLE grains and starchy vegetables are healthy! In fact I recommend people have 20% starchy carbohydrate on their plates, that is if they are not gluten sensitive. Carbs are the fastest fuel for your body, they are often full of fibre which promotes digestive health and they help you to function optimally overall, when you consume the right carbs! Did you know that your brain runs on carbohydrates?! When your body is in starvation mode, or you are starving your body of carbohydrates it will turn to ketones for energy (breaking down fat for energy) however, even in this mode your brain which normally runs on glucose will still need around one-third of its energy to come from glucose via muscle breakdown and other sources within the body.
Now with all this new found bread and healthy carbohydrate knowledge, what should you buy or rather...not buy?!
Stay away from:
1) White flour (enriched/refined)
2) Partially hydrogenated oils 3) Corn Syrup 4) Unbleached/Bleached wheat flour 5) Multigrain 6) Preservatives such as BPA We want to eat the WHOLE grain. If the word WHOLE is not in the ingredient list, don't waste your time!
What type of breads should you eat? 1) Sprouted breads are awesome, because they are made from sprouted grains, seeds and nuts that remove some of the phytic acid, which allows for a more efficient absorption of vitamins and minerals. 2) Sourdough, barley or rye without added yeast is awesome, as you've learned. 3) Whole Grain/Whole Wheat bread (watch out for the added ingredients listed above)
4) Ezekiel Bread which is normally sprouted, high in protein and fibre Tips for consuming bread:
Don't feel guilty! Please! Get the idea that all carbohydrates are bad for you outta your head! When you choose to fuel your body with the right form of carbs, you have nothing to feel bad about. And hey, if you want to indulge in an enriched white flour crusted slice of pizza, you do you, and don't feel bad. Choose to purchase healthy whole grain, sprouted, local breads and eat them joyfully! Store your bread in the freezer, this will keep it around longer. Eat a variety of grains, not just bread. Need some inspiration for a healthy bread recipe? 🥑 Try my loaded avocado-tomato toast on the blog!
I hope you learned a little something about bread and how you can eat it in healthy nutrition promoting ways, that's of course if you are not celiac or gluten sensitive! 🙂
🌱 Always be PLANTING FORWARD
What Are the Key Functions of Carbohydrates? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/carbohydrate-functions#section7
Cahill GF Jr. (n.d.). Fuel metabolism in starvation. - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16848698
SM, T. (n.d.). Review of human studies investigating the post-prandial blood-glucose lowering ability of oat and barley food products. - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23422921
The Effect of Carbohydrates on Ammonium and Ketoacid Excretion during Starvation D. G. SAPIR, 0. E. OWEN, J. T. PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC292366/
CHENG, R. GINSBERG, G. BODEN, and W. G. WALKER - Department of Medicine and the O'Neill Laboratories of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205 - NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC292366/pdf/jcinvest00204-0169.pdf