#6. Don’t Worry About Bread’s High Glycemic Index
The glycemic index of any food item (the number indicating the food’s effect on your blood glucose) applies only to the case when that food is eaten by itself. So unless you have the habit of eating plain bread, the high glycemic index of some breads shouldn’t scare you. When eaten together with anything else, be it peanut butter, meat, vegetables or cheese, will dramatically slow the speed at which the bread is digested, so its GI doesn’t really matter in the end.
Also, if you want to lower the GI of your bread even further, just put in the freezer and toast it whenever you want to make a sandwich – the freezing and toasting alters the molecular structure in a way that reduces the GI.
#7. How to Choose the Healthiest Bread? Keep It SIMPLE
As we mentioned earlier, any bread made with 100% whole grains, whether it is whole wheat or whole grain, is the most nutritious option. But there’s another thing you should pay attention to when choosing the healthiest type of bread: the list of additives.
On the most basic level, it takes only four ingredients to make bread: flour, yeast, water and salt. Ok, sugar might get a pass because it feeds the yeast and helps the bread rise, but its amount should be kept very low. When manufacturers want to improve the flavor of their bread, as well extend its shelf life, they throw in a variety of extra ingredients called additives into the dough which are not necessarily good for your health.
Antioxidants prevent spoiling, dough conditioners help create desired texture, while sweeteners are used to retain moisture and enhance flavor. Some of these additives can be quite harmful to human health, but since the FDA does not require testing of new additives before allowing them for use in food, you have to learn to recognize them by yourself.
For example, azodicarbonamide, a type of dough conditioner, is also the chemical used to make yoga mats and according to many studies, has been linked to higher incidence of tumors. Potassium bromate, an oxidizing agent used to strengthen the dough and improve volume, has also been repeatedly found to host carcinogenic properties.
Also, many breads contain trans fats, dangerous fats formed during the process of partial hydrogenation which helps make bread and other food products more resistant to spoilage. You can spot them as “partially hydrogenated oil” on labels. And the list can go on forever. Therefore, the general rule is: the fewer the ingredients, the better. Stay informed and read the labels.
#8. Skip the Gluten-Free Bread
A gluten-free label is absolutely no guarantee of health – in fact, gluten-free bread varieties are often higher in sugar and packed with nasty additives. The gluten found in bread gives its shape and spongy texture, so in the absence of gluten manufacturers use additives such as corn starch and xanthan gum to create the desired texture. Additionally, they tend to put extra sugar or fat to improve the flavor, because gluten-free bread usually tastes like sand!
Unless you have celiac disease and can’t tolerate any amount of gluten, there’s really no reason to choose gluten-free breads and baked goods. There is zero scientific proof that gluten-free diets are healthier than gluten-inclusive diets, so it’s pretty certain that the whole non-gluten dieting trend is just another useless fad. And even if you’re gluten intolerant, opt for more nutritious and healthier bread varieties made with wholefood alternatives such as buckwheat, quinoa, flax, chia or rice flour.
#9. And Now, the Best of the BEST
You probably don’t know that besides tasting pretty good, oat bread contains twice the protein of whole-wheat bread and it digests even slower. Rye bread, on the other hand, has been shown as incredibly satiating and ideal for improving insulin sensitivity. And if you’re a vegan/vegetarian or simply want to increase your intake of omega-3s, opt for flaxseed bread – adding flaxseed to whole wheat bread creates a very tasty product that’s also a rich source of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and essential fatty acids.
Not edgy enough for you? Then we encourage you to really step outside of the box and try the bread that will change your life – sourdough bread, a kind of the doughy version of sauerkraut and it’s made with strong, active culture of wild yeast. Wild yeasts work a little more slowly than commercial yeast, so the process of making sourdough bread usually takes a day or even multiple days to complete.
However, this long development time helps bring out more complex and nuanced flavors in the finished product, which greatly overshadow those of your average wheat bread. The mixture is left to ferment and turn all sour and gassy, while a little bit of the unused dough is saved to make leavening for the next batch. The distinctive sour flavor of sourdough bread comes from two kinds of gut friendly bacteria – lactobacillus and acetobacillus, which grow alongside the wild yeast in the sourdough culture and help ferment the sugars in the dough.
The result? An incredibly complex and nutritious bread that’s abundant with vitamins B1, B6, B12 and E, selenium, manganese, calcium, protein, fatty acids, zinc and iron, among others! Also, the gluten this bread contains has been broken down by the bacteria into its constituent amino acids. Many studies have even found that sourdough bread can help heal the gut in those newly diagnosed with celiac disease.
Yet, what’s best about sourdough bread is that it contains nominal levels of phytic acid. In fact, its long fermentation process reduces the amount of phytic acid up to 90%. In regular types of wheat bread, phytic acid molecules bind with calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc and thereby make these nutrients unavailable to us. But since the sourdough bacteria pre-digests the flour, these micronutrients are released and your gut is able to absorb almost all of them.
Obviously, sourdough bread is wonderfully satiating and takes longer to digest, so it can help regulate blood sugar levels and ward off diabetes; while the acetic, propionic and lactic acids produced by the bacteria contribute to improving glucose metabolism even further.
When adequately prepared, this healthiest-of-them-all bread also brings a rather unique mix of sweet, earthy and yeasty flavors with just a touch of sour. If you’re ready to take on the challenge, check out this great sourdough bread recipe.
Don’t worry, not even the best home bakers can get it right from the first try, but if there’s one baking skill that’s truly worth learning for the sake of your overall health and wellness – this is it!