Bread has been called the staple of life. It powers our bodies, our thoughts, emotions, and life decisions. Some of our most important life decisions are made by “breaking bread” with loved ones, friends, and colleagues.
But, what about its nutritional value? Today, weight conscious dieters want to know the caloric value of everything they eat. So let’s examine the different characteristics of bread.
Bread: Whole Grains
Molasses or other things can give bread a brown color. Read the ingredient list.
The word “whole” should always appear before the name of the grain, such as whole wheat, whole oats, or whole rye. And it should be the first thing on the ingredient list.
Don’t be misled by labels that say “multi-grain,” “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “cracked wheat,” or “seven-grain.” These usually aren’t whole grain.
Bread: How To Keep It Fresh
Putting it in the fridge will actually make it go stale quicker.
Purchased from the grocery store, it will stay fresh for 2 to 4 days if you leave it on the counter. Bakery bread, which usually has fewer preservatives, will keep 1 to 3 days.
If you want to store it for a longer time, put it in the freezer. It will stay fresh for 2 to 3 months.
Bread: Not Good For My Blood Pressure?
If you eat toast in the morning, a sandwich at lunch, and a roll with dinner, you’re not just loading up on carbohydrates. You’re also eating a lot of salt.
Most Americans get too much salt. When it comes to food sources, bread and rolls are the No. 1 source, beating out chips and other junk food.
A single slice of bread isn’t high in salt. A slice of wheat bread has about 147 mg sodium. Eating bread several times a day adds up. Too much salt can raise blood pressure. It can put you at risk of heart attack or stroke.
Everything in moderation is your guide.
Bread: Enriched Vs. Whole Grain
The word “enriched’ appears on white bread and other products made from refined grains. Refining helps make bread light and airy and gives it a longer shelf life.
But it also strips away fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. “Enriched” just means that B vitamins and iron are added back after refining. But fiber may not be added back to “enriched” breads. Fiber is found when made with whole grains though, so that’s your healthier choice.
That bagel that you like covered with cream cheese and a bit of lox is the only bread that’s boiled before it’s baked.
Boiling gives traditional bagels their shiny, chewy crusts. Some companies steam their bagels instead of boiling them, however. How can you tell? Steamed bagels are puffier and softer.
But you might want to be careful about how many you eat. Bagels can have a lot more calories than a slice of bread.
Do you see green or black fuzzy spots on the piece of bread you’re about to throw into the toaster? Toss out the whole loaf! Don’t just throw away the pieces with the mold. That’s because the mold may have spread to other parts of the loaf.
There are a few different kinds of mold that pop up on bread. The blue-gray-green fuzzy mold is the same fungus that can produce penicillin.
Bread: Health Benefits of Whole Grains
Replacing refined grains with whole grains helps reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease.
Nutrients in whole grains help your body form red blood cells and keep your immune system healthy.
Bread: Best One To Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Your blood sugar levels go up after you eat foods that have carbohydrates. If you’re worried about your blood sugar, whole-grain pumpernickel is your best bet. It keeps you full longer than other breads. And it causes the lowest and gentlest change in blood sugar. That’s important for people with diabetes.
In general, look for coarser, denser breads with a lot of grainy bits to avoid a spike in your blood sugar.
Bread: What Does Gluten Free Mean?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. People who cannot tolerate gluten should avoid breads and other foods made with those grains.
Many gluten-free breads and mixes are made with white or brown rice flours and starches such as arrowroot, potato, and tapioca. Avoiding wheat can be hard. It’s in most prepared foods and in some vitamins and lip balms.
Bread: Best One For Weight Control?
The fiber in whole-grain breads can make you feel full longer and help you control your weight. But that doesn’t mean you can have as much bread as you’d like. To lose weight, eat less, exercise more, and eat healthy foods.