One of the foods that many people hate to love is bread. It tastes so good, but we often get messages that, nutritionally, it’s very bad.
There are entire diets focused on cutting out bread and other carbs and shaming people who eat them. But according to one dietitian, that’s not the best strategy.
“I see a lot of customers who think they shouldn’t eat bread, which makes me sad because bread is a great source of whole grainssaid Natalie Mokari, a dietitian from North Carolina.
Yes, it’s true: bread can be part of a balanced diet, and carbohydrates They are crucial for good health.
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It might be a good idea to eat two to three servings of whole grains dailythat can be found in bread, as they can prevent type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colorectal, pancreatic, and gastric cancer, according to a 2017 study.
“We need carbohydrates to function,” Mokari said. “Carbohydrates are brain food. If you notice, when you don’t have carbs, you feel very sluggish, you may have brain fog, you just don’t have as much energy.”
If you’re looking for the healthiest bread, there are many factors to consider, such as what kind you buy, what you eat with it, and how balanced your relationship with it is.
Wheat, white and sourdough
Is there any type of bread that is more nutritious than the others? It depends on what you are looking for.
“It’s important to define your health goals,” said Steph Grasso, a Washington, DC-based dietitian and creator of TikTok. “What does healthy mean?”
Wheat breads offer more vitamins, whole grains, and fiber, and have less of a negative impact on blood sugar, which can be helpful for people with insulin resistance.
But some people just have a strong preference for white bread, and Mokari tells them to go for it.
“If you break it down and put the labels side by side, they’re really not that different,” he said.
For those with gut health concerns or who want to capture the flavor of white bread without the same level of refinement, he suggested trying sourdough.
Sourdough is fermented, a process that can be helpful for your gut microbiomes, and if what you have is truly slow-fermented sourdough, you may be able to digest gluten more easily.
Beyond the type of bread, Mokari recommended looking at how it is made. Look for simple ingredients, like flour, water, salt and yeast, she said, especially since it’s easy to sneak higher levels of sugar and sodium into bread products.
If you’re looking for more fiber, whole grains are the way to go. To avoid misleading labels, check the ingredient list: The first word should be “whole-grain” if it’s actually whole-grain bread, he added.
For a little more fiber, look for bread with seeds in the crust.
And if possible, shopping at local bakeries can help you find good quality, fresh bread with simple ingredients, she advised.
What about diet or low carb breads? Mokari is not a fan. They usually have more added and unnecessary ingredients to make them taste better.
“But I respect people’s wishes if they really feel low-carb is in their best interest,” he said.
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Rarely do people eat bread on its own, so it’s important to think about the nutrition of the entire meal.
If you’re worried about blood sugar, dietitians explain that bread can be part of a balanced meal if you add healthy fats and protein. Carbohydrates like those found in bread can give you a quick burst of energy that crashes if eaten alone, but adding protein and fat helps keep the momentum going.
“Whether it’s brown or white bread, I’m going to encourage someone to always have a protein and a fat,” Mokari added.
For example, if you’re making breakfast, try pairing toast with eggs, avocado, or peanut butter.
For lunch, sandwiches are underrated for their ability to combine protein, produce, healthy fats, and carbohydrates.
And if Grasso has a big protein salad for dinner, he always makes sure to have carbs like a piece of bread to go with it.
“It’s about balance,” Grasso said. “At the end of the day, it will give you energy, it will make you feel good.”
work with yourself
Even more than finding the best ingredient label, it’s important to know what works for you. Breads can range widely in price, but you can find something that fuels you just as well no matter what your budget is.
“Fantastic doesn’t mean always better,” Grasso said.
And if you like bread, eat it the way you like it, because severely restricting yourself from the foods you like can backfire, and it’s not a very happy way to live.
“Just like anything, the more you restrict, the more you want it, so keep it in the mix,” Mokari said.
Severely restricting yourself from the foods you like can backfire.
Both experts agree that there could be some anxiety around carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, because diet culture has led many people to think that it makes people gain weight. But carbs serve an important purpose, and without them you can end up feeling sluggish and irritable.
“Remove that stigma from bread and those other carbohydrate foods that have been demonized and include them as part of a balanced diet,” Mokari said.
“You just have to treat your body right,” Grasso added. “It’s healthier to have a non-restrictive mindset and balance it throughout the day.”
This article was originally published by CNN and has been reproduced here with permission.
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