Breads are made for grains such as wheat, oats, barley, buckwheat, millet, spelt or rye; they are rich in carbohydrates while also supplying some amounts of protein depending on the type of grain used.
But as you must be aware, the white bread made from refined flour has come under a lot of bashing being criticized as a food source of “empty” calories, lacking necessary fiber, minerals and vitamins.
Considering this, let us find out what type of breads are the healthiest and least fattening of all.
Whole grain breads are the healthiest – here’s why
What does wholegrain really mean? Basically, grains consist of 3 layers – the barn, the germ and the endosperm.
- 1.) Barn: The barn is the outer coating of the grain and is rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants and B vitamins.
- 2.) Germ: The germ is the intermediate layer and is a rich source of minerals, vitamins, some amounts of protein and healthy fatty acids.
- 3.) Endosperm: The endosperm at the core is the most starchy part of the grain composed mainly of sugars (carbohydrates) with minimal minerals and vitamins.
When a food product, like bread, is claimed to be made from wholegrains, it means that the flour was made from the “whole grain” without refining, or removing the barn and germ.
Research indicates that whole grains are good for heart and gastrointestinal health and help lower chronic health diseases such as diabetics and cancer.
Wholegrain breads contain the necessary dietary fiber to assist in the digestion and excretion process, thus maintaining a good stomach, intestine and colon health.
Eating a wholegrain bread is not only healthy in terms of nutrition, but it’s also lower on calories compared to the same size of refined flour white bread. It also has a lower glycemic index and hence does not spike sugar levels in the body.
Buying whole grain breads – Points to bear in mind
One must take heed to purchase only “100 percent wholegrain” breads if you really want to accrue the benefits of eating whole grains. There are many products on the shelf which claim to be wholegrain but are not 100% wholegrain, they are usually 20-30% wholegrain with 60-70% “enriched” refined flour mixed in.
The “enriched” grain breads are not as healthy as “100% whole grain” breads, because most of refined flours are enriched by adding in some minerals/vitamins externally, along with some dietary fiber in the form of soy fiber or chicory root powder – this is not the same as the naturally occurring minerals, vitamins and dietary fibers present in whole grains. So enriched breads are simply cheaper imitations of “100% wholegrain” breads.
Of course, it’s much healthier to eat enriched breads compared to refined white flour breads. If you can’t find a 100% wholegrain bread, you next best option is to go in for a mixed wholegrain bread or enriched bread.
Are Multi-grain Breads Healthy for You?
Multi-grain breads are simply breads made from a mix of flours, usually wheat, barley, oats and millet.
Multi-grain breads, if available in wholegrain variety, is extremely healthy for you; it will provide you will essential minerals, vitamins. Anti-oxidants and fiber from the different grains used in its production.
If you end up buying a multigrain bread which is not “wholegrain”, then you are no better off than purchasing a refined flour bread.
The bottom-line is that the only breads that are healthy for you are the ones that are made from “wholegrains”, period.
Choosing a “grainy” bread or a smooth bread is a personal preference and does not really matter much in terms of nutrition, as long as the bread is wholegrain. Some people like the crunchy feel of a “grainy” wholegrain bread compared to the “spongyness” of a smooth bread.
Is Bread Fattening?
A slice of bread can deliver 50 calories to 160 calories depending on what type of bread you are eating. 100% wholegrain breads, of grainy variety, are usually low of calories due to the presence of dietary fibers along with sugars – usually a slice would produce 50-60 calories. The fluffier varieties (like Nature’s own 100% wholegrain bread) are lesser in calories as the dough is not densely packed.
Refined flour, sweetened breads, are the highest in calories, coming close to 150-160 calories per slice. Most of these breads are sweetened with molasses, corn syrup, cane juice or raisin juice. As long as the quantity is 3 grams of sugar per slice, or less, it’s okay, anything more than that is not really healthy.
Supermarket shelves stock different types of breads, but if the bottom-line is that “100% wholegrain” is the healthiest bread to eat. Everything else is suboptimal, with the refined flour variety hitting the bottom of the list.
If you are on a diet, it’s important to know that breads are fattening due to their high carbohydrate content, but the calories can be restricted by eating the wholegrain varieties.