Bread is a staple food for many people, and has been eaten for thousands of years. As one of our earliest foods, bread in its basic form remains practically unchanged even till today. All bread is basically made by baking a dough of flour and water together.
The bread we all eat today is either leavened or unleavened bread, of which leavened bread is the one most widely eaten. Leavened bread needs the action of leavening agents like yeast to make it rise. The basic ingredients often found in bread are flour, water, yeast, salt, skim milk, sugar, honey, skim milk, malt, agents and improvers.
Types of bread
The flour in bread determines its type such as:
- White bread
- Wholemeal bread
- Mixed grain bread
- Rye bread
- Fruit bread
- Gluten free bread
- Brown bread
Complex carbohydrates in bread amount to less calories
Although bread consumption has dropped since the Second World War, bread is still one of the best sources of complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates takes the body a longer time to break down into calories compared to simple carbohydrates; therefore, it is still OK to splurge on bread, so long as you adhere to a fitness program of some kind. The body will “feed off” the complex carbohydrates at a slower and steadier pace.
On a per calorie basis, the complex carbohydrate content in bread amounts to a lower amount of calories than another food with mostly simple carbohydrates. Also, bread has fiber, especially the high fiber breads, often leave you feeling fuller, and you may end up not eating as much as you would.
Bread is fattening only if you add on a lot of peanut butter, jam, and other spreads!
Wholemeal vs white bread
Many people seem to think that wholemeal bread is the best kind of bread, but you need to remember, wholemeal bread needs to be consumed in larger quantities in order for it to be nutritionally effective in any way. The nutrients in wholemeal bread are not absorbed as well as you would expect, given the presence of phytic acid and fiber in the bread, which binds nutrients together, and impedes absorption. In order to benefit from wholemeal bread, you’d need to consume larger quantities of wholemeal bread.
A slice of white bread usually supplies around 70 calories, and a slice of wholemeal bread supplies around 60 calories. This is even far less than some kinds of fruit. It is when we prepare bread as sandwiches, and then load up the sandwich with heaps of margarine, peanut butter, and ham, that the calorie content will shoot up dramatically. On its own, bread supplies good amounts of protein, B complex vitamins, and iron.
All in, bread is still one of the foods that you can classify as a “staple food.”