Photo: Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash / Unsplash
Everything has been said about bread. While it is a product that Americans love and a staple food, the reality is that most of the people who consume it feel guilty about it. Among the main concerns they point out that it is a product loaded with carbohydrates, calories and low in nutrients. Therefore, they tend to position it as a product that causes weight gain and that usually results in a long list of health problems. However, by now we should all know that not all types of bread are the same and it is not necessary to avoid it: as long as it is whole grain bread variants made with whole grain. The reason is simple, they stand out for their high content of fiber and other nutrients with great benefits.
However, on many occasions, selecting a healthy bread from the wide range offered in supermarkets can be a very complicated task! In the first place, for a bread to be considered healthy it is necessary that it made entirely with whole grains, it should also be low in added sugars and sodium. Therefore, to select a bread that really benefits our health and is even a good ally in weight loss, it is essential to learn to read nutritional labels.
Fortunately, more and more experts are joining this work, which in many cases is usually a challenge and the main reason is that on numerous occasions many bread alternatives that are sold as “healthy” are quite misleading and they are not really a good alternative. Recently a group of specialists took on the task of conducting a review of the nutrition, ingredients and labeling of dozens of popular packaged sliced breads.
According to Amy Keating, one of the nutritionists who led the review: “Less than half of the breads we looked at that were labeled multigrain, oatmeal, or made with whole grains, contained only whole-grain flours. And even many of the whole grain bread options They can be surprising sources of added sugars, sodium, and additives.
The researchers noted that it is a topic that can be confusing enough for some to choose to forgo these grain products entirely. However, all is not lost, so the experts collected some data that will undoubtedly be of great use.
– Bread is not particularly high in calories. About half of the products that were tested had 80-110 calories per slice, and this is justified considering the high fiber content of the whole grain variants. However, it is very important that when selecting bread we take into account the growing evidence that suggests that white bread can widen the waist. The reason? Its low fiber (1 gram or less per slice compared to 2 grams or more in whole wheat bread) and its potentially appetite-stimulating effects on blood sugar.
In fact, there is an interesting reference in this regard. A study published in the journal BMC Public Health, which was based on following the eating habits of participants for an average of five years found that those who ate a lot of white bread (six slices a day versus three or less a week) they were more likely to be overweight or obese. Also, a review led by the British Journal of Nutrition linked white bread to excess belly fat and the main reason is that it is highly refined carbohydrates.
The good news is that for bread lovers all is not lost, since whole wheat bread appears to be less likely to stimulate weight gain. This is suggested by a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, conducted with the participation of more than 3,000 middle-aged adults found that those who ate three or more servings of whole grains a day (mainly whole wheat bread and whole grain cereals) , had smaller increases in waist size as they aged than those who received less than half the ration.
– It is better to avoid all cereals, even whole grains: This is probably one of the most popular myths surrounding bread consumption. It is mainly born of the beliefs that certain fad diets have imposed, which maintain that grains in general are responsible not only for excess weight, but also for diabetes, dementia and a series of other diseases. However, a large body of research now shows that whole grains, including bread, they reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Whole grains can also control inflammation and boost healthy gut bacteria and immune system function. All of these aspects add positively to its qualities in promoting weight loss.
– Multigrains, whole grains and whole wheat are not the same. According to experts, although these concepts tend to be similar, these are terms that are not regulated and that usually imply that the bread is all whole grain, but in reality there may be very few whole grains in the product. In fact, a study recently published in the journal Public Health Nutrition found that, based on claims on the packaging, nearly half of the participants overestimated the amount of whole grains in breads and cookies made primarily with refined grains.
To make the healthiest decisions, consider that the only statements you can count on to indicate that a bread does not have refined flours are concepts such as: ‘100% whole grain’ or ‘100% whole wheat’.
- To select a healthy bread, consider the following tips: Choose breads that have a whole grain as a base, that is, it is the first ingredient on the list. Such is the case with whole grain, whole wheat flour or sprouted wheat options. A recommended option is: 365 Whole Foods Market Organic Ancient Grains, generally does not have refined grains. Some breads also list the number of grams of whole grains in a slice (16 grams is considered one serving). “The more whole grains the better.”
- Look beyond typical claims like “No high fructose corn syrup” looking for other sources of added sugars, like cane sugar or honey. Some breads, like Arnold Organic 22 Grains and Seeds, have 4 grams or more per slice. It is recommended that they do not exceed 2 grams of sugar.
- The same is true with sodium, although for many it may be a tasteless bread, remember that most have much more salt than necessary. In addition, there is data in which it has been verified that bread is one of the main sources of sodium in the American diet. Choose those with around 150 mg or less per slice, for example: Schmidt Old Tyme 100% Whole Wheat has only 110 mg.
- Don’t forget the fiber. Many brands tend to promote themselves as high in fiber, however there is no way to be sure: 2 or 3 grams per slice could mean that processed fiber has been added, which may not be as good for your health. A good option is: Pepperidge Farms Whole Grain 100% Whole Wheat, has 4 grams of fiber.
- Nuts and seeds are good too. As long as the bread you select is whole grain, getting one with nuts and seeds, like Dave’s Killer Bread Organic Powerseed, adds healthy fats and fiber.
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