Bread is heavily condemned and demonised. It’s not without good reason, but it’s had so much bad press that people fear it. People fear bread so much that they are happy to miss a meal rather than eat a sandwich. Bread isn’t all that bad, and can even be considered healthy. If you are one of these people who fear bread, here are some good reasons why you should change your negative view on bread (assuming you are not a coeliac of course).
1. Diversity of quality
When people think ‘bread’, they automatically think of the cheap, nasty white bread that you get at cheap barbecues or burger vans. It tastes of nothing, offers no nutrition, and let be honest – it is horrible. The only reason people put up with it is because there is often a juicy burger to go with it. This isn’t a fair representation of bread. You can get bread made of oat flour, coconut flour, bread with nuts/ seeds in, bread made with various vegetables such as pumpkins etc etc. The list is almost never ending, and you can make your own bread with your own twist. Bread can have all sorts of added nutritional benefits, seeds for example are a great source of omega-3, and oat bread doesn’t contain gluten and is high in beneficial beta-glucans.
2. Gluten isn’t that bad
Even in non-coeliacs, gluten has been shown to stimulate an immune response in the intestine, which is one reason why it is criticised so heavily. I’m not disputing this, and this isn’t good, but, gluten is not the only food to stimulate an immune response in the intestine. In fact, meat, nuts and dairy products are extremely high in ‘advanced glycation end products‘ (AGEs) which are known pro-inflammatory compounds. These foods are all often touted as being healthy for one reason or the other, yet they have been shown to cause inflammation – a problematic immune response when in occurs in the digestive system. Having a sandwich one or twice a week isn’t going to stress out your immune system any more than many of the other meals you eat. Even if you are concerned about the gluten content of bread, you can easily enjoy bread made from oat or coconut flour. Bread doesn’t have to contain gluten.
Of all the convenience foods out there, bread is one of the best. Not only is a good quality bread free from a whole host chemicals/ preservatives/ sugars etc that are associated with other convenient foods, it is also pretty diverse in use. Just think of of the variety of sandwich fillings you can have! And these fillings can be healthy! Sandwiches are a quick meal to make/ pack up for your lunch if you are in a rush in the mornings, they last until lunch and require no heating up. Having sandwich as a option can save time, stops you starving yourself, and can be pretty healthy. Even just spreading some butter on a slice of nice bread on the way out of the door is a better option than missing a meal.
Being this convenient has other benefits. For example, I know that if I have a few slices of nice bread in the freezer I don’t have to rush back from work to go shopping on a Thursday evening to make sure I have something for lunch on Friday. I can have a sandwich for lunch, and then can take my time food shopping on the weekend looking for the food what I want, and enjoy doing it. Having a sandwich for lunch means I still get to do some exercise on Thursday and still have time to relax. Call it a tenuous link, but because I’m happy to have bread for lunch once or twice a week, I get more exercise, which is healthy, and time to relax, which is also healthy; and to me, this makes bread healthy.
4. Fibre is good for you
Good bread contains fibre, which is needed to keep your digestive system healthy. The fibre will produce short chain fatty acids, keep your probiotics happy and keep your regular – just to name a few of the benefits. You don’t want to go overboard with eating too much fibre, but unless you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you aren’t at risk of eating too much (and could probably benefit from eating more).
5. Don’t worry about the carbs
Often people complain about the carbohydrate content of bread, but what is there to be scared of really? Fear of carbs stems from a fear of exercise (or just a lack of motivation perhaps). Carbs are a perfect energy source and can fuel you through long and intense exercise, but if you aren’t exercising the energy will get stored. Those who live a relatively sedentary lifestyle call carbs fattening, and although there is some truth in it, I would say that it’s their lack of energy expenditure which is the real cause for gaining weight. The bottom line is, if you are exercising, your body will use the carbs from the bread as fuel. So if you are exercising (which you should be if you want to be healthy) then the odd slice of bread can be quite beneficial really.
6. It’s yours to make healthy
Bread is never just bread. You put things on/ inside the bread, and this is how you make it healthy. Spinach, lettuce, peppers, grated carrot, chicken, fish, avocado, beef, apples, cheese, tomatoes, eggs, mayonnaise, and left overs from last nights meal. All these ingredients and more (although probably not all together) are nutritious and make great fillings/ toppings for bread.
Bread isn’t the perfect food – but very few foods actually are. Some breads are better than others though, and I would suggest that you avoid all white bread and anything that has come out of a factory. If you can, get a nutty/ seedy bread, an oat bread, or even better, make some bread yourself! As with all foods – moderation is key, and consuming bread within reason isn’t bad for the vast majority of the population. If you don’t eat bread, then thats great for you, but for many people it has become a serious barrier on the road to get healthy, and it isn’t as important to cut out bread as many people think. Don’t fear bread.
Image courtesy of rofi