Bread is a wonderful thing….soft, slightly chewy, and oh-so-delicious! Gluten is not the enemy! While I do not want to devote this post to talking about gluten, I do would like to briefly address it. Gluten is absolutely not the enemy! Gluten is a component of all breads and unless you have celiac disease, by no means should you be avoiding it. Bread, when consumed in the correct portion and the correct type can offer many wonderful benefits and can help fuel your body and give you a boost of quick energy. Your body, organs (THE BRAIN!!!), and every single cell relies on glucose, the structural component of the breakdown of carbohydrates for energy and proper functioning. This is why it is recommended by the DRI that 45-65% of your caloric intake to come from carbohydrates. Without carbohydrates you would get migraines, feel sluggish, experience blurry vision, and have some balance problems.
So let’s talk about choosing the best choice. Obviously whole grain is a million times better than white bread because of the fact that it contains an abundance of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are all present in the bran and germ of the wheat grain. Iron, magnesium, phosphorus, since, copper, manganese, and B vitamins are some of the many wonderful benefits of eating whole grains.
When assuring you are picking a whole grain bread, it will often times have the whole grain stamp, meaning that it has been accredited by the whole grain council and meets certain recommendations (16 grams or more per serving).
Anatomy of the whole grain:
Whole grains contain all of the components, including the bran, endosperm, and germ. All of these components aid in allowing whole grains to have the benefits they do in that they provide the vital vitamins, nutrients, fiber, and healthy fat. White bread is made of the same grain, but the industry implements a process where they strip the bran and germ and only keep the endosperm, thus resulting in the white color. During this process, the industry re-adds all the nutrients and vitamins that were lost. However, the benefits of eating whole grains with all the nutrients intact are much better since they are naturally present.
There are other key factors to look for when choosing bread:
Sodium: This is often times overlooked, but is incredibly important. When picking bread you want no more than 140mg per slice. Considering you typically make a sandwich using two slices and add various condiments and lunch meat, sodium content can really add up!
Fiber: This is important obviously because the importance of the benefits associated with it. Aiding in satiety, helping your digestion, and lowering your cholesterol are some of the benefits associated with fiber. In terms of bread, look for about 3-4 grams of fiber to really benefit.
Protein: This is often times overlooked, but whole grain bread is actually higher in protein than white bread! Protein is important for helping you stay and feel full, maintain the structure and function of your body, and is responsible for many more benefits. Look for about 4-5 grams per slice.
So the next time you are at the grocery store picking up a loaf of bread, turn the package around and glance at the nutrition panel for some of the key factors discussed above!