The Truth about Bread

There is a lot of talk about what is and is not good for you. Bread is a staple of the Irish diet and as such it is an important food that most people happily eat every day. However, some people are still unsure whether bread is good for you and are concerned about some of the information they hear and read. Unfortunately, some of the information out there is completely inaccurate, and so we wanted to get the facts out there!

Our bodies need a constant supply of carbohydrates to function properly. Bread can provide the necessary carbohydrate to give the body the constant supply of energy to function properly and carry out daily activities and exercise. Carbohydrates are vital to ensure the brain, heart, nervous, digestive and immune systems work correctly. Furthermore, a lack of carbohydrate in the diet can result in tiredness, fatigue, poor mental function and a lack of endurance or stamina.

As well as being a good source of carbohydrate, bread also provides vitamins, calcium, iron, protein and fibre. White sliced pan is also low in sugar and low in fat, so on its own, or combined with a meat, cheese or other protein or veg filling, it’s a convenient, versatile and inexpensive source of many of the nutrients that our bodies need.

We promised you the truth, so here are the facts!

Facts about Ingredients

All bread, including white bread, is made from four key ingredients flour, yeast, a little salt and water.

All ingredients present in the final loaf are listed on the label or wrapper of a sliced pan so consumers know exactly what they are eating.

Bread contains many nutrients such as iron, calcium and B vitamins. Some varieties are also fortified with vitamin D and seeds such as Chia, adding Omega 3 to the nutritional content; Organic white flour that is milled in the UK also contains calcium.

Facts about Flour – Bleached & Unbleached: One of the most commonly heard false claims that is made about bread is that the flour in it has been bleached. This is false. All flour is unbleached in Europe and has been for the past 20 years.

Facts about additives: White flour often has vitamins added back in after milling. These vitamins are present in the part of the flour (the bran) that is removed to make both white and brown flour (they are still present in wholemeal flour). Sometimes flour is fortified with Calcium too, as it is good for bone health.

Facts about the Fermentation process: All bread goes through a fermentation stage, when the yeast feeds on the simple sugars that are released from the starch in the flour. The yeast releases CO2 from these sugars, which then allows the bread to rise.

Fat Facts

White and wholemeal bread are officially low in fat (less than 3%) - take a look at the Nutritional Label on wrapped sliced pan to see g/100g.

All foods that have less than 3% fat are legally considered to be low fat.

No fat is added to white bread.

Common Bread Myths – busted!

Myth: Bread is fattening

  • There is little or no fat or sugar in bread. A slice of bread has the same number of calories as a large apple.

Myth: Bread causes bloating

  • Bloating is the new description for “I feel fat” or “I feel full”. We are meant to feel full after meals, but if you are over-full then maybe you ate too much food! A review by the British Nutrition Foundation¹ concluded that there was no scientific evidence that regular consumption of bread caused bloating or digestive problems.

Myth: Bread is unhealthy

  • Contrary to what some may believe, bread is good for us and is an excellent source of proteins, vitamins especially the B Vitamins, Thiamine, Niacin, and Folic Acid; minerals (Calcium and iron); fibre and complex carbohydrates. It is also low in sugar and fat.

Myth: Gluten is bad for you

The only people for whom gluten is not healthy are those with diagnosed Coeliac disease or those with borderline wheat intolerance. It’s a food allergy. For the rest of us, gluten is perfectly healthy to eat.

Myth: Bread is low in essential nutrients

  • Bread is healthy as it contains many nutrients such as iron, calcium and B vitamins. Some varieties are also fortified with vitamin D and seeds such as Chia, adding Omega 3 to the nutritional content, making bread a major contributor to the nutrient intake of the Irish diet. Bread can and should be included in your diet at least once a day.
  • A scientific report relating to the consumption of white and wholemeal bread in Ireland and published by the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) in 2016 concluded that white bread is a source of many important nutrients for Irish consumers.

Like all good foods, it’s important that bread should be an important part of a balanced diet. It is good value and is a source of many of the nutrients our bodies need, whatever your age. So, the next time you hear somebody making the claim that it is unhealthy or fattening, then just remember that hard scientific research proves the contrary.

Keep eating bread, it’s good for you – FACT!

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