Is it just me or is buying a loaf of bread getting really complicated? I have to admit, I grew up eating boring old brown bread, but the moment I moved out I made the switch to white. I tricked myself into believing that the nutrient content was the same and it was just the big bad food companies trying to confuse us…well it looks like my parents were right all along – don’t you just hate that!
A whole grain includes all three parts of the kernel (or seed) of the grain – the bran, endosperm and germ. The bran is the outer layer, which contains all the fibre, B vitamins, minerals, and some protein. The endosperm, which is the biggest part of the kernel, is made up of carbohydrates and proteins, while the germ contains a large amount of B vitamins, vitamin E and some minerals. The important thing to know is that whole grain DOES NOT equal whole wheat!
Whole wheat bread has some part of the wheat kernel removed. Products labeled as 100% or 60% whole wheat are not whole grain products. However, whole wheat bread is still better for you than white bread. White bread has only one of the three parts of the kernel left and you guessed it – it’s the least nutritious part – the endosperm.
To make sure whole grains are the main ingredient, they should appear first on the ingredients list. Look for: whole grain whole-wheat flour and for higher fibre whole grains because unfortunately foods labeled “whole grain” are not always high in fibre. A food source of fibre has at least 2g of fibre per serving while a high fibre food contains 4g of fibre per serving. Per serving is 1 slice of bread – sneaky companies like to say 4g per 2 slices…nice try.
So, why is whole grain bread so good for you? Well, it lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers. It also provides you with much needed fibre, vitamins and minerals, which is why I’m trying to switch back to boring old brown bread from my delicious white bread – but it’s hard. Recently, I bought and tried Silver Hills’ The Big 16 and was impressed (and it’s local). Unfortunately, it was a little pricey (~ $4 something) but if that’s what it takes then so be it. Let me know if you have any other suggestions.
Image courtesy of Baha'i Views / Flitzy Phoebie