And with so many varieties including low GI, iron enriched and even one that contains calcium, surely it is a healthy choice? Unfortunately, I beg to differ.Bread has been a dietary staple for thousands of years, and the more advanced technology has become, so too the more processed our bread, resulting in the soft, almost sticky common white loaf many families base a number of meals around each day. Bread, white or otherwise, is a rich source of B group vitamins which are crucial for energy production, and hence bread remains a major contributor to energy, and the running of energy systems in the body. Less processed varieties of bread also offer a range of other nutrients, including dietary fibre, vitamin E, zinc; iron, and long chain unsaturated fats, which is generally why loaves of grain-based bread contain more fat than white bread. Apart from the distinct nutrient differences between white and grain-based breads, the other major and most significant difference from a health perspective is the difference in glycaemic index between breads. As white, wholemeal and flat breads have all had the grains ground down in their processing, they have a relatively high GI compared to wholegrain bread, meaning that they release glucose into the bloodstream much more quickly than wholegrain breads. Over time, this means that choosing processed breads as a dietary staple will result in regular glucose peaks and troughs, and subsequent insulin release. High insulin levels over time are related to weight gain and increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. While this may make a low GI white bread a better choice than a regular white bread, it does not make it a better choice nutritionally than grain-based bread. Generally speaking, the more grains the bread has, the better it will be for you, with soy and linseed loaves a standout due to their high polyunsaturated fat content, thanks to the presence of linseeds. Polyunsaturated fats have been shown to have a number of health benefits long term, including reducing inflammation in the body. One of the most commonly asked questions in relation to bread choice is whether wholemeal is a good choice. While wholemeal bread does contain more dietary fibre than standard white bread, it is still a high GI choice. Then you have Turkish bread, which is perhaps the worst bread of all, with its mixture of large serving sizes, holes that readily get filled with butter or margarine, and large amounts of white flour giving it its high GI and carbohydrate load. Another popular choice, sourdough, does have a lower GI than regular white bread, but keep in mind that the serving sizes of sourdough also tend to be large, which may be contributing to a kilojoules overload if you are trying to lose body fat. The average adult will need just two to four slices of bread each day, and should be mindful of the increasing sizes. Some large, thick slices of bread can contain up to double the amount of carbohydrates, and are really not necessary for the majority of us who would ultimately like to drop a few extra kilograms. As many Australians eat bread on a daily basis, it is imperative that our choice of bread is gold standard, and this means grain bread. And for all the parents out there who are arguing the virtues of high fibre white for their kids, remember: kids will eat what you keep at home. If you continue to buy white bread, they will continue to eat it, and it is not the best choice nutritionally for their health long term.
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