Bread article 650x365

Bread, a staple food in nearly every culture since the dawn of agriculture, hasn’t had the best press recently and this is especially true of white bread. But much of what has been written is both confusing and misleading; either not based on scientific facts, or based on American bread, a completely different product to Irish bread.

So to clear up some of the confusion, we took some of the most common bread myths to Dr Mary McCreery, Consultant Clinical Nutritionist and Dietician at the Blackrock Clinic, and here is what she had to say.

 

ALL BREAD IS NUTRITIOUS

True. The differences between white, brown and wholemeal are not significant in terms of nutritional value so long as we eat a balanced diet. White bread has approximately the same carbohydrate and protein content as wholemeal bread.

 

BREAD CONTAINS NO NUTRIENTS

False. Bread provides protein, folic acid and many nutrients such as dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. Brown bread contains more fibre than white, but because of its popularity, white bread provides 9% of our daily fibre intake. It’s also the second main contributor to both the iron and calcium intake of the Irish diet.*

*IUNA, Analysis of the North South Irish Food Consumption Survey and the National Children’s Food Survey.

 

WHITE BREAD IS LOW IN FAT

True. Although 30%* of people surveyed think white bread is fattening, research shows it is the lowest contributor of fat of any food group, providing just 1% of the fat content of the Irish diet.  

*Brennans Bread White Bread Survey

 

WHITE BREAD CAUSES BLOATING

False. 21%* of Irish people still believe white bread causes bloating, but a recent review from the British Nutrition Foundation concluded there is no scientific evident to support this.

*Brennans Bread White Bread Survey

 

WHITE BREAD IS A SOURCE OF CARBOHYDRATE 

True. And this is a good thing. 55% of our total energy intake should come from carbohydrate, but currently the Irish diet contains less that 45%, so as a nation we need to increase our carbohydrate intake.* 

*IUNA, Analysis of the North South Irish Food Consumption Survey and the National Children’s Food Survey.

 

EATING BREAD CAUSES WEIGHT GAIN

False. This has been dispelled by a team from Maastricht University and Rothamsted Research UK, following a review of all related scientific studies. The researchers argued that the cause of obesity cannot be specific to one type of food while ignoring overconsumption and inactive lifestyles, and they concluded that “there are no grounds to advise the general public not to consume this common dietary staple”.

 

BREAD IS THE BEST OF THE CEREAL FOODS

True. According to the Food & Agricultural 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. It’s easily digested and contains nutritious vitamins, minerals and fats. The FAO also states that a predominantly wheat-based diet is higher in fibre than a meat-based diet.

 

WHITE BREAD HAS A HIGH GI AND IS THEREFORE BAD FOR YOU

False. White and wholemeal bread do have relatively high GIs, but most of the time bread is combined with protein and fat, e.g. when eaten with a meal or as part of a sandwich. This means the carbohydrate is digested more slowly and glucose enters the blood stream at a slower rate.

 

BREAD IS BRAIN FOOD

True. Bread is a brain food as not only does it provide carbohydrate but also a range of B vitamins, which are believed to play a crucial role in a healthy functioning brain. Insufficient consumption of carbohydrates reduces mental performance. *

*The Grain Foods Foundation http://www.grainsforyourbrain.org/

 

IN CONCLUSION, BREAD IS A HERO

Hooray, bread is a tasty, low-fat, good value food containing proteins, vitamins, minerals, fibre and complex carbohydrates, and as with all foods, is best enjoyed as part of a healthy balanced diet.