Straight from the pack, with butter and jam, as warm toast or part of your favourite sandwich or snack, bread continues to be one of Ireland’s most popular food choices. And there is such a variety now to choose from - original white sliced, brown, wholemeal, wholegrain, granary or seeded to name but a few. However, when some people embrace ‘healthy’ eating, bread can be one of the foods that they dismiss from their diet due to some misconceptions about its nutritional value, which the Irish Bread Bakers Association would like to set straight.
Myth 1: Fattening
Truth: There is little or no fat or sugar in bread. A slice of bread has the same amount of calories as a large apple.
Myth 2: Bread causes bloating
Truth: Bloating is a new term for that after meals feelings, replacing “I feel full” or “I feel fat”. There is no evidence that bread causes bloating. We are meant to feel full after meals but if you feel over-full it might be down to how much you ate, rather than what you ate! In fact a review of the topic by the British Nutrition Foundation ¹ concluded that there was no scientific evidence that regular consumption of bread causes bloating or digestive problems.
Myth 3: A wrap is lower in calories
Truth: Some people choose wraps or pitta bread over sliced bread as they believe them to be lower in calories but they’re not. Two slices of white bread typically contain 133 calories whereas a medium sized wrap has 144 calories and white pitta bread has 165 ².
Myth 4: Bread is unhealthy
Truth: Another myth! Bread is good for you. It’s an excellent source of proteins, vitamins - especially the B vitamins Thiamine, Niacin – and Folic Acid as well as minerals (calcium and iron); fibre and complex carbohydrates. It is also low in sugar and fat.
Myth 5: Bread is low in essential nutrients
Truth: Again, not true. Bread contains many nutrients such as B vitamins, calcium and iron. Some varieties are also fortified with vitamin D, and seeds such as Chia, adding Omega 3 to the nutritional content, making bread a major contributor to the nutrient intake of the Irish diet.
Myth 6: Bread contains no fibre³
Truth: Wholemeal bread is one the greatest sources of fibre in the diets of adults, providing 15% of fibre intake.
Myth 7: Bread makes your energy levels drop
Truth: On their own, white or wholemeal breads don’t have a low glycaemic index. But bread is more usually eaten with a meal or as a sandwich so it’s combined with protein and fat. When eaten in combination with other foods, the carbohydrate is digested more slowly and glucose enters the blood stream at a slower and more stable rate.
Myth 8: Carbs are bad for you⁴
Truth: There are 3 different types of carbohydrates found in food: sugar, starch and fibre. Bread is low in sugar. It does contain starch, providing a slow and steady release of energy throughout the day, and can be a good source of fibre too.
¹ British Nutrition Foundation, Weichselbaum 2012
³Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) report on the pattern of white and wholemeal bread consumption in Irish adults and pre-school children. (Commissioned by IBBA) [LINK]