About the Bread you purchase

By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer

The brown bread you buy from the bakery or supermarket may not be whole meal. Molasses or other things can give bread a brown colour. Always read the ingredient list.

The word "whole" should always appear before the name of the grain, such as whole wheat, whole oats, or whole rye. And it should be the first thing on the ingredient list.

Don't be misled by labels that say "multi-grain," "stone-ground," "100% wheat," "cracked wheat," or "seven-grain." These usually aren't whole grain.

Warning: Putting bread in the fridge will make it go stale quicker.

Storage: Bread from the grocery store will stay fresh for 2 to 4 days if you leave it on the counter. Bakery bread, which usually has fewer preservatives, will keep 1 to 3 days.

If you want to store bread for a longer, put it in the freezer. It will stay fresh for 2 to 3 months.

Loading lot of salt: If you eat toast in the morning, a sandwich at lunch, and a roll with dinner, you're not just loading up on carbohydrates. You're also eating a lot of salt.

Most people get too much salt. When it comes to food sources, bread and rolls are the No. 1 source, beating out chips and other junk food.

A single slice of bread isn't high in salt. A slice of wheat bread has about 147mg sodium. Eating bread several times a day adds up. Too much salt raises blood pressure. It can put you at risk of heart attack or stroke.

Enriched bread: The word "enriched' appears on white bread and other bread products made from refined grains. Refining helps make bread light and airy and gives it a longer shelf life.

 But it also strips away fibre, iron, and many B vitamins. "Enriched" just means that B vitamins and iron are added back after refining. But fibre may not be added back to "enriched" breads. Fibre is found in bread made with whole grains though, so that's your healthier choice.

When you go to Sri Lanka, you’ll be eating white bread: whole meal bread is not popular and scarce.

New thought on white bread compared to wheat bread.
For some people study suggests that blood sugar levels did not rise- a process called the glycaemic response) with white bread or leavened wheat bread. The researchers found that there were individual variations and the blood sugar level did not rise comparable to the wheat whole meal bread. What it means is that the glycaemic responses, different people respond differently to the same kind of bread

"In a broader sense, what this means is that the 'one-size-fits-all' diets that are given to the population as a whole, without personalization, are probably not optimal for everyone," added study co-author Dr Eran Elinav, who's also from the Weitzman Institute.

At the same time epidemiological studies has shown that people eating whole grain breads have reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heat disease, inflammation, obesity and certain cancers.

Some believe that wholemeal bread contains less calories than white bread. However, they contain the same number of calories. What makes brown or whole meal bread better than white is the fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients found in the outer layer of the grain.

Fibber in wholemeal bread maintains a healthy stable blood sugar level leading to a feeling of satiety, due to slower digestion and absorption. Toasting bread removes the water from the bread and does not affect the micronutrients.

Over toasting and blackening of bread can lead to certain chemicals formation that can cause cancer.

Overall, it is advisable to stick to whole meal bread, though the taste is lesser, and the cost is more.

(Some reference to WebMD article)

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