Bread as a source of protein

Bread is a source of protein

There is a lot of talk about protein these days, but why is protein important in our diets and not just for super keep-fit gym bunnies? Every year in January, people start getting active again after Christmas and try to burn off the excesses of the festive period. We join gyms, we start walking, and we look at our diets to make sure we’re eating all the right things. The basics of a balanced diet never change though, and one of elements – protein – is really essential to maintain our bodies so we can function properly.

Protein is needed to grow and maintain muscle mass. While many people would assume that the only foods that provide protein in any meaningful quantity are meat, milk and eggs, the fact is that bread has long been recognised as an excellent source of protein. Indeed, bread is a low fat source of protein which is required by our bodies for growth, renewal and repair. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that getting protein from a variety of sources such as pulses and grains is better for us in the long-term and indeed may be even more important for non-meat eaters.

Proteins are made up of chemical 'building blocks' called amino acids. Your body uses amino acids to build and repair muscles and bones and to make hormones and enzymes. These enzymes, for example, help to digest food, and making new cells. It is also necessary for your cartilage and for hair and nail health. You’ve heard of micro-nutrients like vitamins and minerals, well protein is a macro-nutrient. Protein is also a source of energy, giving us 4kcal per gram.

We have talked about labels and nutrition claims before in previous blogs. According to the European Union, a claim that a food is a “source” of protein, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where at least 12% of the energy value of the food is provided by protein. For a food to be “high” in protein, it must provide 20% of energy needs. These phrases, i.e., ‘source” and “high” re legal definitions and not to eb bandied around lightly. So, if you’re unsure whether what you’re hearing or reading is correct, just check the label.

The Irish Universities Nutritional Alliance (IUNA) report², published in 2016, found that there are many health benefits to eating white bread, noting that it contributes 3% to the protein intake for adults, and 4% for pre-school children, while at the same time only contributing 1% each to our daily fat and sugar intake.

As we know, sandwiches remain the most typical way people in Ireland eat bread, its versatility makes it a popular food. So why not make yourself a nice sandwich today, with butter and some meat or cheese, or make a soft-boiled egg and some toast soilders and really give your protein a boost!

Keep eating bread, it’s good for you!

For more information:

  1. Report is the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) Report on the Pattern of White and Wholemeal Bread Consumption in Irish Adults and Pre-School Children, (September 2016)
  2. Irish Nutrition & Dietetic Institute
  3. British Nutrition Foundation
  4. British Heart Foundation
  5. Federation of Bakers -
  6. Flour Advisory Bureau -
  7. HSE – Eating Healthy Guidelines -

“Bread as a Source of Protein”, Moran & Pace, Journal of Food Technology, 1967, 2, 17-24. Available at