“Life is better between two pieces of bread.“– Jeff Mauro.
Bread, in its various and diverse forms, is the most ancient and widely consumed food globally.
Humans started baking bread at least 30,000 years ago, and commercial yeast production dates back to ancient Egypt’s bread makers in around 300 B.C.
It is not only an essential source of carbohydrates, but it’s also portable and compact, which helps explain why it has been an integral part of our diet for thousands of years.
Bread acquired a bit of a bad name from the health and wellness community, especially from low-carb diet believers and the gluten-free trend.
The general public holds a firm belief that bread fattens, so many people have restricted or even eliminated bread from their diets.
To understand the million-dollar question—whether to eat bread or not eat it—we need to understand a few fundamentals about bread.
In this article, we’ll discuss the following:
- 1. Types of Bread
- 2. Bread Nutritional Facts
- 3. How Bread is Made
- 4. Merits of Including Bread in The Diet
- 5. Is Brown Bread Whole Wheat Bread?
- 6. Disadvantages of Consuming Bread
- 7. The Best Bread for Health
- 8. Conclusion and My Recommendation.
Types of Bread
There’s a vast and wonderful world of bread beyond basic white sandwich bread.
Bread is made in different parts of the world with different ingredients and is known by different names. Few examples from all over the world are:
Bialy comes from Bialystok, Poland. It is a flat, large yeast roll about 15 cm in diameter with a depression in the middle stuffed with chopped onions and poppy seeds before baking.
Roti is a whole wheat unleavened flatbread made in South Asia, similar to a tortilla.
Anpan is a sweet roll from Japan filled with fillings like white or red bean paste or sesame.
Arepa is a Colombian flatbread made of ground maize dough or cooked flour and served with cheese, avocado, jelly, or jam.
Baguette is a long, thin loaf of French bread made from refined flour.
Bammy is a traditional gluten-free flatbread made by frying a mix of yuca and served with coconut, fish, or chicken.
Banana bread is a cake-like bread made with mashed bananas.
Bannock is a variety of quick flatbread commonly made in the U.K. and Canada. It can be made from white or whole wheat flour, baking powder, sugar, lard, and water or milk with fruit.
Brioche is sweet yeast bread loaded with eggs and butter commonly used as hamburger buns and dinner rolls.
Barmbrack is yeast bread from Ireland. It is sweeter than sandwich bread but less rich than cake and made with added sultanas and raisins.
Bazlama is single-layered, flat, circular, leavened bread from Turkey.
Ciabatta is a wheat-based recent invention from Italy used for panini and sandwiches.
Beer bread is yeasted bread made with a variety of beers.
Bing is a Chinese flatbread similar to a tortilla but much thicker.
Breadsticks are dry bread made into sticks and often served as snacks.
Zwieback is German crisp and sweetened bread made with eggs and baked twice.
Taftan is bread from Iran baked in a clay oven. It is leavened flour bread with added saffron and cardamom powder.
Proja is bread from Serbia made of cornflour, baking powder, oil, mineral water, and salt.
Pita bread, a flatbread from the Middle East, is cooked at a high temperature. The heat enables the dough to puff up, leaving a handy interior pocket for stuffing when it cools.
Pizza is an Italian oven-baked, flat, round bread typically topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and various toppings.
Melonpan is a sweet bread from Japan made from enriched dough covered in a thin layer of crisp cookie dough.
Laobing is a flatbread from northern China made by frying thick unleavened batter made of salt, flour, and water in a pan.
Hushpuppies are deep-fried or baked corn dough balls.
Himbasha is Ethiopian and Eritrean bread made for celebrations, often with ginger or raisins.
Curry bread is a Japanese curry wrapped in dough. The dough is coated in breadcrumbs and then deep-fried or baked.
Bread’s main ingredient is flour, and we can differentiate between types of bread based on the type of flour.
Whole grain bread has all of its essential components: bran, germ, and endosperm.
Compared with other types of grains, whole grains are better fiber sources and other vital nutrients, such as B vitamins, iron, folate, selenium, potassium, and magnesium.
Refined grain bread or white bread is from grain processed to remove the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm.
The refining process gives the bread a smooth texture and extends its shelf life but removes many nutrients, including fiber.
White bread, bagels, pastries, muffins, and croissants are a few examples of refined grain products.
Enriched and fortified grain bread has some of the nutrients lost during processing replaced or fortified with vitamins and minerals such as folic acid and iron.
Whole grains bread may or may not be enriched or fortified.
Bread Nutritional Facts
Nutritional comparison of 100gm( four slices of bread )as per USDA.
How Bread is Made
The process of baking bread has remained the same for hundreds of years.
It involves mixing ingredients until the flour gets converted into the dough, followed by forming the dough into a loaf and then baking it.
The main ingredients are wheat flour, yeast, salt, and water.
Wheat flour is the main ingredient in most bread. Flour quality is particularly crucial in breadmaking as it will significantly impact the final product.
When flour is moistened, stirred, beaten, or kneaded with yeast and water, gluten develops to give the dough “stretch.”
Yeast requires moisture, food, and warmth for growth.
Its function in breadmaking is to produce carbon dioxide gas to enable the dough to rise, expand the dough’s cellular network and give bread its characteristic flavor and aroma.
Salt is an essential ingredient used in tiny amounts to giving bread flavor.
It also helps strengthen the gluten and helps the fermentation process produce bread of sound volume and texture.
Water helps to make the dough. The correct quantity of water is essential because it affects the dispersal of the other ingredients.
Other ingredients like seeds, nuts, seasonings, fruits, etc. can add flavor, variety, and texture to the bread.
Merits of Including Bread in The Diet
Bread mainly provides our bodies with carbohydrates and fiber.
Carbohydrates are the primary nutrient in bread and the body’s leading source of fuel for energy.
There are two types of carbohydrates in foods: simple and complex.
Complex carbohydrates, also known as starches, are in whole-grain bread and other grain-based foods.
Many parts of our bodies, such as the kidneys, muscles (including the heart), brain, and nervous system, use carbohydrates to function correctly.
Like the kind found in whole wheat bread, whole grains contain fiber and antioxidants such as vitamin E and selenium and iron, magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins.
Fiber reduces the risk for some chronic conditions such as constipation and hemorrhoids and keeps the gut healthy.1<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4809873/>
Fiber may help prevent cancers like colon cancer and help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.2<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19335713/>
Is Brown Bread Whole Wheat Bread?
Consumers’ increasing awareness of good health and interest in quality food has led to increased brown bread consumption.
But it is not simple to tell what kind of grains a bread has.
Brown bread isn’t necessarily made from whole wheat; the brown hue can be from caramel coloring.
Labeling terms like brown, multigrain, rye or 7 grain do not mean that bread contains whole grains.
It’s crucial to have a close look at the ingredients, including looking for WHOLE GRAIN.
The Disadvantages of Consuming Bread
Bread is a staple and popular food because of its convenience, portability, nutrition, and taste.
But not all pieces of bread are healthy and nutritious.
Eating bread made of highly processed flour with refined carbs means eating extra calories.
Excess bread consumption can lead to a spike in blood sugar, obesity, and heart disease.
The food industry manipulates consumers by adding sugar, enzymes, and preservatives containing allergens without necessarily informing them.
Enzymes are added to bread with two main objectives: making dough hold more gas (making lighter bread) and making bread stay softer longer after baking.
Wheat flour contains gluten, which consists of specific proteins that are difficult to digest and can lead to inflammation, leaky gut, and allergies.
The Best Bread for Health
Not all slices of bread are bad for health. A few healthy options are whole grain, sprouted grain, rye, and sourdough bread.
Whole grain bread refers to any bread made from whole grain flour.
Whole grain flour undergoes less processing than refined flour and contains more nutrients.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), whole grain foods provide nutrients like vitamins B-1, B-2, B-3, and B-9 and iron, magnesium, selenium, and fiber.
Studies suggest a diet containing whole grain foods could reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers.
Sprouted grain bread is baked from whole grains and legumes that have started germination or sprouting.
The grains can be wheat, millet, or barley; the legumes can be soybeans or lentils.
Sprouted grain bread is lower in calories and higher in nutrients, including protein, fiber, vitamin C, folate, and beta-carotene.
It is a better choice of bread for diabetes, obesity, and other health issues.
Whole-grain rye bread is made from the flour of whole rye, a grain similar to wheat with nutritional content identical to whole grain wheat bread.
Research suggests that rye bread can help control blood sugar levels after a meal, lower the risk of diabetes, and improve gut health.
Sourdough bread is from the old school of bread leavening. It relies on a mix of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria naturally present in flour rather than baker’s yeast to leaven the dough.
Sourdough bread is more comfortable to digest, has more folate and antioxidants, and has a protective effect against type 2 diabetes and CVD.
Conclusion and Recommendation
“Let there be work, bread, water, and salt for all.” -Nelson Mandela
So rightly said, bread is the most basic and addictive food consumed worldwide, irrespective of class, race, or culture.
Bread can provide nutrients essential for human health, such as carbohydrates, protein, fat, minerals, and vitamins.
We should consume it but with an eye on the ingredients and labels.
Substitute white bread and bagels with whole wheat toast or whole-grain bagels.
Swap out white flour tortillas with whole wheat versions. Preferably choose pieces of bread with no bicarbonate, less salt, less added sugars, and more bran.
Eating a variety of whole-grain bread not only ensures you get more health-promoting nutrients but also helps make your meals and snacks more guilt-free.
What do you think about this article? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!