Are you a part of the modern army of dieters trying to eliminate bread from their diet? We get it – you believe bread will make you fat and you’re scared to death from indulging in carbs.
But believe it or not, such beliefs are based on some very powerful misconceptions and inaccuracies about the nutritional content of bread and the role it plays in the American diet. And if you’re looking to truly promote your general health and well-being, you might want to get rid of those.
There is no need for feeling guilty about your bread cravings anymore. In this article we’ll give you 9 reasons why bread should become a staple of your healthy diet!
Against the Grain: Why Bread Is Hugely Misunderstood
Bread, in all its various forms, is the most widely consumed food in the world and a diet staple in many different cultures. But in recent years, the humble loaf has been aggressively demonized by diet gurus and mainstream health magazines.
We’re guessing that if you had a penny for every time you head the phrase ‘You definitely need to cut out bread’ from your fitness-obsessed co-worker, your “fat-loss expert” friend or even the little critical voice in your head, you’d be fairly well-off. On the other hand, those people who still dare to eat bread tend to feel guilty about it, faced with the immense pressure to perceive bread as a big dietary no-no.
In general, this extremist view stems from nebulous fat-loss and clean-eating diet fads, mostly disseminated by Facebook “nutritionists” who think that reading a couple of “truth-revealing” articles on bad foods vs. good foods provides them with enough knowledge to advocate for the banning of certain food items from our diet.
Don’t get us wrong – a big part of the criticism of modern bread production is absolutely justified, but simply taking things to the ‘all bread is bad for you’ extreme is utterly moronic. Namely, bread has been around for so long that we feel like we know all there is to know about it and consider it a very simple food, when actually it’s one of the most misunderstood food products out there.
Contrary to popular belief, bread is not inherently fattening and it’s in fact a healthy way to access a wide variety of vital nutrients. When eaten in moderation (just like anything else!), it can be an important part of a nutrient-dense and well-balanced diet, even if fat loss is the ultimate goal. Bread can be a low-fat, low-sugar source of energy that provides a variety of vitamins and minerals and can help with satiety and appetite control, as long as you know what to look for – which means that in order to make the most out it, you need to learn a few facts about good ol’ bread.
#1. Bread Is a Very Complex Food
The first thing you need to understand is that the key properties of bread, such as nutritional value, glycemic index and prebiotics concentration, can vary significantly depending on the ingredients, the way it’s made, how it’s baked and even how it’s served.
For example, it’s normal for certain nutrients to be lost during the milling process of flour and the amount lost will depend on the amount of bran and germ removed. However, the key nutrients lost through milling, such as calcium, iron and B vitamins, must be restored to bread flour by law in most countries around the world, including the USA.
This is called “enriched flour”, which means the flour has specific nutrients returned to it. Enrichment is different from fortification, the latter being a process of introducing new nutrients to a food. On top of that, scientific studies have not found significant differences in the nutrient content of bred made using modern production methods, compared to more traditional ones.
Due to this, enriched flour and whole-grain flour have similar amounts of vitamins and minerals. The main reason why enriched flour doesn’t provide the same nutritional benefits of whole-grain flour is because whole-grain flour contains larger amounts of fiber (stored in the bran and germ which are partially removed in the process of making refined flour).
#2. Whole-Grain Bread Offers Amazing Health Benefits
Studies have repeatedly shown that whole-grain bread can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. According to one study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who had three servings of whole grains in their daily diet had a much lower risk of coronary heart disease as a result of getting more fiber than those who predominantly ate products made of refined grains and those who steered clear from all types of grains.
As you already know, soluble dietary fiber can help lower cholesterol levels and improve blood glucose control. Furthermore, another study published in the same journal found that women who ate whole-grain foods had 49% less risk of weight gain, thanks to the satiety-inducing fiber content of whole-grain products. That being said, moderation is the key – we presume it’s unnecessary to explain how uncontrollably stuffing yourself with any type of food will result with weight gain.
To ensure you’re getting maximum benefits, when shopping for bread, make sure that for every 50 calories in a slice, there’s at least one gram of fiber.
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