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Belonging to the defense background and growing up in the 1990s, it is no surprise that most of us enjoyed the traditional ‘modern’ bread which had a soft texture and was snow white. The whiter and softer the bread, the more we enjoyed it!
Bread is a staple diet almost everywhere in the world, though in some countries the consumption is more relative to the others. In India, bread is a common breakfast item such as toasts, sandwiches, bread rolls, fried bread pakodas etc. Now that I am in the US, I have observed the frequency of consumption of bread to be much higher and is eaten in the forms of bagels, toasts, sandwiches, starters etc. and are consumed almost in every meal. With all the recent hoopla surrounding bread and its contents and considering the amount of bread we all consume, it is imperative to know what bread is actually good and what is not. There is no doubt that bread contains starch (carbohydrates) and should not be overly consumed. Limit your portions and eat the right bread, and that should do you more good than harm.
Whole wheat or whole grain bread?
Whole wheat means wheat that is unrefined and unbleached. Refined and bleached bread is something that strips the nutrients off the bread and only spikes the blood sugar levels. As a starter lesson, never consume white bread as it is refined and processed.
Whole grain basically contains all the essential parts of a grain – endosperm, bran and germ. Refined grains are therefore not as nutritious as the whole grain.
Some common grains are barley, rye, millet, quinoa, oats, wheat, millets etc. Therefore, all whole wheat is whole grain but all whole grain is not whole wheat. Now the question that arises here is, what is better – whole wheat or whole grain.
Before coming to that, its important to understand the term glycemic index. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly blood glucose levels (i.e., blood sugar) rise after eating a particular type of food. The lower the GI, the better. Processed and refined foods tend to have a higher GI than whole foods and plant based foods.
The surprising piece of news is that research shows that there is not a significant difference in GI between whole wheat and refined wheat bread. Whole grain bread on the other hand has proven to show a lower GI than whole wheat bread. But again, do not get fooled by the term ‘multi grain’ bread. Multi grain bread is no good until the grains are not WHOLE. Sprouted grain breads (Brand eg: Ezekeil) are also gaining popularity and are a healthy form of bread.
It is a little challenging to find bread that is only made of whole grains and no wheat. I therefore end up picking up bread that contains some amount of whole wheat and lots of whole grains. I also make sure that I do not consume more than a slice of bread per day. 🙂
What should your bread not contain?
Like almost all foods we consume, bread is also significantly processed. Sigh! Bread really does not require anything more than whole flour, yeast, water and salt. But alas our never ending tryst with processed foods 😦
So here’s what your bread should definitely not contain:
Soybean oil, corn starch, mono and di-glycerides, corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, soy flour, any form of preservatives like calcium propionate, sucralose. Most of these are some form of sugars, artificial colors or flavors, genetically modified forms of corn and soy.
My current favorite is Dave’s Killer bread which contains 21 whole organic grains (contains some sugar).
Stay healthy and aware!