Dietitian, Nicola Walters, tells us all the good things about bread and why we should eat it.
Bread is a staple food that has been around for more than 10 000 years. It’s delicious, convenient, and satisfying, sure, but what if I told you it was healthy too?
With advancements in recipe development, the composition of bread has been perfected over many years. What has evolved has created a selection of bread choices that, when eaten as part of a healthy, balanced diet, can add valuable nutrition elements.
A loaf affair
When choosing the perfect bread to suit your needs, look for the nutrition information label and be sure to size up the competition. Not all breads are created equal.
If it’s weight management and weight loss you desire, focus on the overall kilojoule value of the bread.
To lose weight, daily energy intake (measured in kilojoules) from food and fluids should be less than total energy expenditure (energy spent on daily activities, exercise and normal body functions).
A lower total kilojoule content per slice means a lower contribution to total daily energy which means more wiggle room for calorie deficits.
But that’s not all that matters; the quality of the kilojoules is equally important. Quality kilojoules come from foods that offer additional nutrition related benefits over and above the energy they provide.
Fibre is one such nutrition factor that offers huge health benefits, such as controlled blood glucose levels for sustained energy. Fibre also improves gut health; keeping the tummy bloat-free and regular.
Any bread that has more than 6g of fibre per 100 g serving is considered high in fibre and will increase daily fibre intakes and boost health. Well, isn’t that the best thing since sliced bread?
Low GI options
Sustained energy you say, but do we still have your attention? For this, it might be worthwhile to focus on low GI bread options. No, this isn’t a new Wi-Fi speed to rival 5G; the glycaemic index (GI) is referred to as the GI.
The GI of a food indicates how quickly that particular food (normally a food that contains carbohydrates) will raise the amount of glucose in the bloodstream.
A croissant for example, will be considered a high GI food because it increases blood glucose levels as fast as lightening, after being eaten.
A slice of low GI, high-fibre bread on the other hand, is considered a low GI food because it steadily releases glucose into the bloodstream, over a period. This means no more concentration rollercoasters and more stable energy cycles throughout the day.
If it’s health you’re after, you can have your high-fibre, wholegrain bread and eat it too. But when you do, remember the whole truth: no one food or diet can be “best” for health. The true effect of bread, like any other food eaten, must be considered in the context of the diet as a whole.
MEET OUR EXPERT
Nicola Walters is a registered dietitian and has workedas an associate Dietitian at Nutritional Solutions in Johannesburg since 2013. Nicola is an accredited DNAlysis practitioner and enjoys optimising her patient’s health outcomes through the individualised interpretation of genetic results.