A Superhero Food
Wouldn’t it be great to have a convenience food that was perfect for a quick snack, or part of a meal, nutritious, and priced at only a little more than a large bag of chips? Chances are that you that you already have this food and use it all the time. However, you might not have the real thing, but instead a cheap imitation. If you have bought the cheap imitation instead of the real thing, you and your family are at more risk of diabetes, digestive problems, and possibly even circulation problems.
What is this wonderful yet often degraded food staple? Did you guess it? It’s bread. It has been the “staff of life” for many people for thousands of years. Tools for making bread were found in ruins dating to the Stone Age in Israel. Ancient Egyptians made a coiled flatbread, and their descendants continue to make it today.
But beware! A lot of what modern food stores sell as “bread” really is not the healthy whole grain product that sustained past generations. It is a zombie creation, whose insides have been replaced with lifeless artificial stuffing. Many commercial manufacturers today use flour from grains whose grain structure (fiber) is removed, as well as their “germ,” or protein part. It is then pulverized into a powder. This type of flour makes bread really soft. Wonderbread, for example, boasts about its softness. Many producers also add sugar, and preservatives to lengthen these so-called breads’ shelf lives. These products don’t “spoil” by getting hard or moldy. I have noticed even bugs avoid them.
Whole grain, living bread is another matter. It can be purchased at most grocery stores. It costs more per loaf than the zombie bread, but you get more than puffed up fluff. When you buy it you get fiber which is vital to controlling blood sugar, process digestion, and possibly lowering cholesterol. (K. McManus,R.D. in Harvard Health Letter March 2020). You get B vitamins like niacin and thiamine, vitamin E, and minerals magnesium and zinc.(healthline.com.) You get them in a natural form, as opposed to their being added separately to flour.
Seek out real natural bread as opposed to the fake model. To find it, you only have to do one important thing: check the label. I checked the label on Wonder Bread. Here’s what I found: it lists almost no fiber. Near zero. (Remember, they boast of it of being “soft.)” It has a huge 650 calories per slice, with some high fructose corn syrup, 130 mg of sodium, and added vitamins. Compare it to Dave’s Organic Whole Grain bread which has 3 grams of fiber in a total of 12 grams carbs, which is a great ratio (four.) It has 60 calories per slice, and 100 mg. sodium. Is it really a contest between these two?
You can also get bread made from sprouted grains instead of ground flour. One commercial brand of sprouted grain bread is Food for Life. It is made from sprouted seeds of wheat, rye, and other grains. A slice has 80 calories, 3 grams of fiber in a total of 15 carbs, 80 mg. sodium, 4 g. protein, and 1 g. sugar.
The nutrition expert mentioned above recommends you make sure the first ingredient on the bread’s package label states “whole grain,” that you avoid breads that have ingredients ending in “ose” (indicating sugars), and that you skip products with additives such as monoglycerides, BHA, or saturated fat.
That’s all you have to do to have the health and convenience of bread at your fingertips. Maybe healthy whole grain bread won’t be promoted like a Cheetos snack. You’re unlikely to view a video of exuberant party goers gathered around a bowl of it. But remember, the same 1g whole.bread serving also won’t have Cheetos’ 1600 calories, 1.5g. of saturated fat, and the 250mg. of sodium. It will undoubtedly have more fiber and healthy nutrients.
Bread is an example of an item where simple is best: few ingredients, and the least processed. Sure, some people have to adjust their diet to particular health issues, like gluten intolerance. And certainly there are many additional ways to get the recommended daily goal of four servings of whole grain. That said, healthy bread is a great “super-hero” for convenience and health. Top it, dip it, crumble it, and thrive.