Many active people and those watching their waistlines choose brown breads as a smart eating choice. But as it turns out, not all brown breads are created equal. The truth is, many so called brown breads on grocery store shelves are made with wheat flour, the exact ingredient in white breads, with bran or colouring mixed in. The key ingredient in healthier brown breads is whole wheat or wholemeal flour. So its worth checking the label!
Breads and fat
Many diets suggest avoiding bread (especially white bread) which, like pasta, is a simple carbohydrate that if not burned off turns to fat. Simple carbs are especially associated with the hard to target fat around the middle area.
As well, white bread contains a large proportion of high GI (glycemic index) carbohydrates. These carbohydrates cause sugars to be released quickly into the bloodstream. This causes a rapid rise in blood sugar levels which triggers a similarly rapid release of the body’s own sugar regulating hormone, insulin. You’ll store more fat and kill your energy after you consume these types of bread. Not good if you’re heading into a long day of school, work, or training.
White vs. Brown Bread
A real brown bread is healthier than white bread because the wheat flour used to make brown bread is less processed compared to wheat flour used for making white bread. During the processing of the wheat flour for making brown bread the bran and germ in the wheat grain are not removed. The bran is the part of wheat grain that is rich in fibre, while germ is the inner part of wheat grain which is packed with nutrients, Vitamins B and E as well as phytochemicals.
Traditional white bread is made with refined flour, meaning that the wheat and grains used has been milled so that the bran, germ, and endosperm are removed. Since parts of the grain are removed in the milling process, much of the wheat’s original fiber, vitamin B, and iron content have been removed. In an attempt to restore some of its lost properties, manufacturers can enrich white bread or flour to re-add the b vitamins and iron; dietary fiber, however, is lost and not replaced.
Brown bread is a designation often given to breads made with significant amounts of whole grain flour, usually rye or wheat. The simplest way to know real brown bread is checking the label. All authentic brown bread should show that they are manufactured with whole grain/meal and not enriched wheat flour. Check the label to see if the brown bread includes wheat flour, enriched flour, hydrogenated oil or caramel. Brown breads with any of these ingredients are not considered “real” brown breads. A quick look at the ingredients in brown bread will reveal that about half contain wheat flour!
• Wheat bread: wheat bread, made from wheat flour is made with milled wheat, which no longer has the bran and germ of the whole grain wheat, which holds the important nutrients. This term may be confusing, so look for “whole wheat flour” instead of just “wheat flour.”
• Multigrain bread or “made with whole grains”: if the ingredient or package does not list whole grains as the first few items, multigrain bread can be made with more than one type of milled grain, and only contain a very small portion of whole grains.
• Brown colored bread: just because a loaf of bread is brown in appearance does not mean that it is made with whole wheat. Manufacturers can use coloring agents or molasses to add color to their bread, so it can actually be white bread in disguise.
• “High in fiber”: manufacturers may add additional fiber to their bread, but it does not make it whole wheat bread. It can be white bread with added fiber.
This is not too say that white and brown breads are exactly the same. If you compare the labels of whet and brown breads of your favourite brand, you will probably find that the brown bread still has more dietary fiber, making it the wiser choice. And there may be times when some people ned o carbo-load with white bread, especially body builders. What’s important to remember is not to confuse all brown breads with the much healthier whole grain alternatives. Do your research and read your labels for the choice that’s right for you.