Bread; it’s a love, hate relationship, right? It’s so tasty, but it’s not often we eat it without feeling a little guilt. The misconception is that bread is all bad, and something we should avoid at all costs. Many of us even give up bread completely in a bid to lose weight or change the diet. 

Is it as black or white? 
How should you relate to bread? what should you look for when shopping? Let’s take a look. 

The biggest culprit in bread is wheat flour and added sugar. Wheat flour causes a quick raise in blood sugar, which results in us quickly becoming hungry again. A fast rise and then hunger is rarely the effect one desire from a meal. 

The most popular bread we consume, and most of all the bread we give our children, contain sugar and has a low nutritional value.

Don’t fall for the misleading marketing strategies of, “less sugar” “more fibre” now with “extra protein”.

Learn what to look for, and which bread to choose based on the nutritional content and ingredients list. 

When reading the table of contents of bread, cereals, muesli, granola, yogurt or any other food you consume on a regular basis it is important to know the following. 

 ✅ Sugar. The amount of sugar in a product is found under carbohydrates, of which sugars. Try to find products with a maximum of 5g / 100g sugar if it is a so-called everyday product that bread is. OR if it’s a product you eat with the perception that it’s healthy. 

If you look at certain types of granolas or muesli, it is common for them to be high in sugar, far more than 5g/100g. The sugar content in these often come from dried fruit, although it is a natural source of sugar (fructose) the body still reacts in the same way as with normal sugar. Sugar from dried fruit is referred to as natural sugar. 

✅ Salt. Salt is a real flavour enhancer in food, if producers reduce the sugar and/or fat content, they generally increase the amount of salt. Anything over 1.5g / 100g of salt is considered high. As a comparison, one can look at a package of crisps. They contain between 1.2-1.6g/100g salt. 

 Fat. Fat content in bread is rarely a problem, but even so it’s always good to understand what you read on the packaging. We should try to limit our intake of saturated fat, so look for no more than 5g/100g saturated fat, with a good amount being 1.5g / 100g.

 Fibre. Fibre intake is generally a good indicator of the breads nutritional value. Most of us need to increase our fibre intake and a good wholemeal fibre rich loaf is an excellent source of that.  Bread should preferably contain at least 5g/100g fibre. However, the healthier breads contain closer to 9g. 

Bread has received an unnecessarily bad reputation. Bread gives us several health benefits. It has a high content of vitamins, amino acids and minerals and can be a good source of carbohydrates, if we chose the right type of bread.

As an adult opt for the darker rye bread with high fibre content, children might be harder to convince and seeing as they don’t need as much fibre as us adults buy, or bake, a 50/50 loaf for them.

Sourdough bread

The king of bread is the authentic sourdough bread. Sourdough bread is without a doubt the most nutritious bread you can eat.

To gain the benefits of a sourdough bread you need to buy it from an artisan baker, or bake it yourself, not a store-bought bread that is mass-produced. The process of preparing a sourdough bread takes time, time big companies don’t have for the price they sell their bread at. 

The sourdough is baked with a starter which is a simple mixture of flour, preferably rye flour, and water that is left for days for a natural fermentation creating lactic acid bacteria and beneficial bacteria.

No yeast is added but left to ferment naturally for at least 12-24 hours. Unlike bread in the trade that adds gluten to make the breads fluffy, the process with lactic acid bacteria and the long fermentation process has meant that artisan baked sourdough bread contains minimal amount of gluten, which can make the bread suitable even for those who are sensitive to gluten. It is however not suitable for those with celiac disease, of course, that is something else.

An authentic sourdough bread is heavy and the texture is a little tough. Of course, you should preferably choose the wholegrain variety even here, but an artisan baked sourdough bread made from wheat flour still carries more health benefits than store bought bread. 

What makes sourdough bread so much better?
All wholegrain contain phytate, a substance which inhibits the absorption of iron and zinc.  In sourdough bread, there is only a small amount of phytate, which makes it a better source of iron. The longer a bread is allowed to ferment, the lower the amount of phytate.

But not only the iron is affected, all minerals and vitamins are absorbed by the body more easily thanks to the healthy bacteria in the bread. Studies have also shown that sourdough bread gives you a lower blood glucose and insulin response. Which is the exact opposite of the effect of white bread.

It has a low GI (glycaemic index) which not only helps you maintain a low GI value of the meal you eat with the bread but also affects the meal after, in other words, you stay fuller longer with a healthier insulin response. 

So, enjoy your bread with a clear conscience. But choose the right bread, one which gives you the health benefits bread can provide. Remembering that children should also be served a healthier bread, replace the white loaf with a 50/50, that looks white but adds some more nutrients to their meal. 

Children under five, should be restrictive with wholegrain products, so don’t replace all carbohydrates with wholegrain variants, after the age of five everyone can enjoy fiber.