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Healthy eating: Ten common myths about bread busted

Published 13/10/2015

Cut above: bread can be both tasty and healthy
Cut above: bread can be both tasty and healthy
Cut above: bread can be both tasty and healthy
Cut above: bread can be both tasty and healthy

It may have fallen out of favour recently, but bread can be part of a healthy lifestyle, writes Vicki Notaro.

1. Bread is not that 'bad' for you …

There are many common misconceptions about bread nowadays, thanks in part to the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets. The Zone, Atkins and the Paleo diet advocate cutting out grains to speed up weight loss - when the body is low on carbs, it burns fat instead - but balanced diets don't advise cutting any food group out, unless you're allergic or intolerant.

2. … unless you have a genuine intolerance

Of course, there are people out there who suffer from coeliac disease (unable to digest gluten) and milder wheat intolerances. However, experts say an increasing number of people are self-diagnosing wheat or gluten sensitivities, which can lead to very specific challenges further down the line when it comes to being tested for coeliac disease. Eliminating gluten from your diet before testing may result in a false-negative result so it is important to be on a gluten-containing diet before testing in order to ensure the most accurate result. Throughout the last decade, gluten-free products have risen in popularity by up to 20% every year - great news for those who have been diagnosed coeliac or wheat intolerant.

3. It's also not really that 'fattening'

A slice of bread has the same calories as a large apple. White and wholemeal bread have a relatively high glycaemic index, which means they release glucose more quickly into the blood stream than other foods. However, most of the time, bread is combined with protein and fat - when it is eaten with a meal or as a sandwich, for example. This combination means that the carbohydrate is digested more slowly and glucose enters the bloodstream at a slower rate.

4. Most bread is very nutritious

Contrary to popular belief, bread is good for us, providing protein, folic acid and many nutrients, such as dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals in our diet.

5. … and you can eat it every day as part of a balanced diet

Healthy diets, like that of the Mediterranean, often cited as ideal, don't shy away from bread. We need between six and 12 portions of carbohydrate foods per day for a balanced diet and variety is the key to getting a nutritious diet. Bread can, and should, be included at least once a day.

6. Cutting out bread won't ensure weight loss

When embarking on a diet, the first thing many of us do is ditch the complex carbs like white bread, potatoes and pasta. While this will cut carb intake and also slash the calorie count, it doesn't mean you'll automatically shed pounds - or keep them off in the long run.

7. Grains and wheat products aren't responsible for the obesity crisis

Amazingly, bread only accounts for 1% of the fat content in diets in this country.

8. Bread can be good food for the brain

The brain's preferred fuel is glucose, which comes from the metabolism of carbohydrates in the diet. Bread is a brain food, as not only does it provide carbohydrates, but also a range of B vitamins, which are believed to play a crucial role in a healthy functioning brain. The best fuel for your muscles is carbohydrates and that is also true for your brain.

9. Bread doesn't necessarily cause bloating

This is a common misconception and while it may be true for those who have an intolerance (or those who overdo it!), it's no bigger culprit than any other type of food.

10. It's the best of the cereal foods

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the raised bread loaf is the best of the cereal foods and provides more nourishment for humans than any other food source. The FAO also states that a predominately wheat-based diet is higher in fibre than a meat-based diet.

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