Why bread SHOULD be a part of your diet

Dietician reveals wholegrain bread from the supermarket has JUST as many nutrients as a pricey artisan loaf – but says we should only eat one or two slices a day

  • Juliette Kellow said that bread is much healthier than we’ve been lead to believe 
  • UK-based dietitian says its full of key micronutrients including calcium and  iron  
  • She added its great for those on a vegan diet and home-baked varieties are best
  • Added there is no difference between supermarket and artisan wholegrain 

Many of us cut bread out of our diets, believing it is ‘bad’ for us. 

But a dietician has explained that bread, at least loaves made with wholegrain, are packed with nutrients like iron, calcium and B-Vitamins and can be a great addition to a balanced diet. 

There is also no need to waste money buying pricey artisan loaves because they are just as ‘good’ for us as budget buys from the supermarket, according to UK-based nutrition consultant Juliette Kellow. 

There is no need to waste money buying pricey artisan loaves because they are just as ‘good’ for us as budget buys from the supermarket, according British nutritionist Juliette Kellow

‘Whether you make your own bread, buy a sliced loaf from the supermarket or choose an artisan loaf from a deli or bakery, the key is to choose a wholegrain variety,’ Juliette told FEMAIL. 

‘As the name suggests, wholegrains contain all three parts of the grain – the nutrient-rich germ, the energy-providing endosperm and the fibre-rich bran layer. 

‘When grains are refined, for example to make white flour, the outer bran layer and germ of the grain are stripped away, with the result that the grain loses much of its fibre and many of its nutrients.

‘Bread made from wholegrain flour will result in a loaf that’s higher in fibre and contains more vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants.’ 

However bread should still be enjoyed in moderation, with portion sizes based on individual appetite and lifestyle.

‘Healthy eating guidelines recommend starchy carbohydrates, which include bread, make up about a third of our diet,’ Juliette explained. 

‘As a guideline, one to two medium slices is usually considered to suit most people (those or are very active may prefer more, those who are inactive may want less).  

‘It’s also important to watch what we put on our bread – lashings of butter will add a lot of saturated fat while jam, marmalade and honey will add sugar.

‘If you’re using bread to make a sandwich, keep fillings healthier too – lean meat, chicken, tinned tuna and salmon, eggs and avocado are lower in fat and salt than ham, bacon, salami and cheese; add plenty of salad; and limit or avoid extras such as pickle, ketchup and mayo, which can be loaded with fat and/or salt.’

Here, Juliette has shared more advice on the nutrients found in bread….

A dietician has explained that bread, at least loaves made with wholegrain, are packed with nutrients like iron, calcium and B-Vitamins and can be a great addition to a balanced diet

Rich in calcium

Juliette said: ‘Most of us instantly think of dairy products when it comes to calcium-rich foods. ‘Indeed, milk, yogurt and cheese are the main providers of this nutrient, which is needed for strong bones and teeth. However, white flour is fortified with calcium with the result that around a tenth of the calcium in our diets comes from white bread.

‘Just one slice of white bread provides eight per cent of our daily needs for calcium.  Even though wholemeal flour isn’t fortified with this nutrient, one slice of wholemeal bread still provides five per cent of our daily calcium needs.’

Good source of iron 

Juliette added that bread can be a great way to get iron, particularly for those on vegan and vegetarian diets.

She said: ‘Red meat is one of the main sources of iron in our diets. But, as we are encouraged to move towards a more plant-based diet, it’s important to make sure we get enough iron in our diet from non-meat foods. It’s good news, then, that white flour is fortified with iron. 

Low in fat 

While some breads are high in carbohydrates, they tend to be low in fat.

Juliette explained: ‘Most bread is low in fat – it’s the butter or spread we add to it that boosts fat intake. 

‘Health guidelines in the UK recommend we have no more than 70g total fat and 20g saturated fat in our diet each day. 

‘A slice of bread contains around 1g fat and around 0.2g saturates, so contributes very little to this.’

‘This makes bread an important source of iron, especially for teenage girls and young women, many of whom have very low intakes and so are at risk of a potential deficiency. 

‘One slice of white bread contributes around four per cent of our daily needs for iron, while one slice of wholemeal bread contributes seven per cent of our daily needs. Wholemeal flour isn’t fortified with iron but it’s naturally richer in this nutrient.’

Rich in B-vitamins 

Juliette added that B-vitamins, that are essential for key bodily functions, are also found in bread.

‘Most varieties of bread provide thiamin (vitamin B1) and niacin (vitamin B3),’ she explained. These are both important for releasing energy from food and helping to keep the nervous system functioning well. 

‘Thiamin is also vital for the heart to function normally, while niacin helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue. 

‘One slice of white bread provides just under a tenth of our daily needs for each of these nutrients. One slice of wholemeal bread provides 9 per cent of our daily needs for thiamin and 16 per cent for niacin.’

Not always loaded with sugar

‘In recent years, bread has been highlighted as a food that contains a lot of added sugar,’ Juliette explained. 

‘Sweeter breads such as brioche certainly contain more than a standard loaf, and some artisan loaves can be brushed with honey. But most standard loaves contain very little sugar – around one to two grams per slice equal to quarter- half a teaspoon. 

Reduce salt by baking bread at home 

‘Bread often comes under fire for being high in salt, especially some shop-bought alternatives, but ultimately, a wholemeal loaf can provide you with fibre, starchy carbohydrates and a variety of vitamins and minerals,’ Juliette explained.

‘Making your own bread at home gives you full control over exactly what goes into your loaf, allowing you to manage additional ingredients such as salt and sugar.’ 

‘Bread manufacturers have worked hard to reduce the salt content of bread over the years and have certainly achieved this. Nevertheless, bread remains the main provider of salt in the food we eat, with a typical slice containing around 0.4g salt.

‘One solution is to bake your own bread, giving you control over how much you add to the dough. While making bread can be fun – it’s a great thing to do with children – if you plan to bake your own loaves regularly, then investing in a breadmaking machine is a great idea.’ 

‘That’s a small amount when compared with health guidelines in the UK, which recommend we have a daily maximum of 30g free sugars (the type of sugar that’s typically added to food, as well as honey, syrups and fruit juices).

‘It’s the obvious sweet foods such as chocolate, sugary drinks, cakes, biscuits and puddings that contribute most of the sugar in our diet. 

‘In fact, bread provides less than three per cent of the added sugars in adult diets, confectionery on the other hand is responsible for a massive 28 per cent.

Full of fibre 

Bread is full of fibre, which can make us feel fuller for longer, Juliette explained. 

‘Wholemeal varieties of bread really help to boost our intake of fibre, which we need for a healthy digestive system and to prevent constipation. Good intakes of fibre are also linked with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer’ Juliette said.

She added: ‘Eating plenty of fibre-rich foods helps to fill us up, too, so we feel less hungry which can help us better manage our weight. 

‘Most of us fail to get enough fibre in our diet though, having an average of 18g a day, when in fact, health guidelines recommend almost twice this amount – we should be aiming to reach 30g a day. Just one slice of wholemeal bread provides almost a tenth of our daily needs for fibre.

Panasonic is supporting Love Food Hate Waste to help encourage people to reduce food wastage. For recipe inspiration visit www.theideaskitchen.co.uk 

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