Is bread good or bad for me?

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The package claims that this loaf of bread is “enriched”, “whole-grain”, and “high fiber”, and yet the media keeps saying that bread is bad for me. So what’s the story? Is bread healthy or not?

That all depend on the bread.

World’s Healthiest Food has a compact article on grains, specifically those related to bread. It’s worth a quick read if you’re at all confused about the difference between whole grains and refined grains. Here’s an even quicker read:


Whole Grains


Imagine a grain of brown rice, barley or oats. A “whole grain” still has its “germ” and “bran”, the parts of the seed where nutrients are stored.


Refined Grains


Imagine stock standard white flour. This stuff has been processed (read: pulverised) to remove the bran and germ. The reason most packaged breads are “enriched” is because manufacturers synthetically put nutrients lost from the germ back into the bread.


What is the point of refining?


Whole grains are refined because the bran and germ can go rancid over time. This complicates storage and transport for food manufacturers.


How can I tell if I’m eating the healthy bread?



The easiest way is to bake your own bread using whole grain flour. If that is impractical, read the package closely, and look out for these dubious claims:

NOT Whole Grain


  • “whole grain”

  • “contains whole grain”

  • “100% wheat”

  • “made with whole wheat”

  • “multigrain”

  • “pumpernickel”

  • “stone-ground”



My personal favourite for packaged whole grain bread is Food For Life’s Ezekial 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread (look for it in the freezer section).

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7 thoughts on “Is bread good or bad for me?

  1. Josh

    So my precious 40 calorie “honey wheat bread” is not really “whole”? I never really understood how to tell…

    Very informative succinct article, thanks!

    -Josh

    Reply
  2. Jason

    Great article on bread. Alot of breads in the supermarket will claim to be wheat bread, but will really be mostly white bread with added food coloring. You gotta be careful to look at the ingredients and what you buy. Whole grain is the magic word.

    Reply
  3. Lisa

    I’ve noticed whenever a package says “multi-grain” or “whole wheat”, it probably just contains SOME of those ingredients, along with the enriched junk. It’s better policy to take a look through the ingredient list (which is just a good policy in general), and try to stick to breads that only have healthy and complete ingredients (more than 3 syllables? can’t pronounce it? forget it!). Ah, the trickery in our food labeling system…

    Reply
  4. monica

    Yeah, multi-grain is just a euphamism for “mostly white”. Bread products should only contain flour, salt and yeast as far as I’m concerned. This reminds me of something Tim and I noticed last time we were in the U.S. – American bread is so SWEET. What is that? I just looked at Oroweat’s 100% Whole Wheat Bread http://www.oroweat.com/nutrition/whole_wheat.gif“ rel=”nofollow”>ingredients: the third one from the top is high fructose corn syrup. Each slice has 4g of sugar – is this necessary?

    Reply

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