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Know your Bread!


bread blog pic

Bread has slowly but steadily moved into our homes as a staple food item. Always quite popular in the north for breakfast and sandwiches, now urban households in the south too have started to buy bread often. Spreads that go with bread have also seen an increase – peanut butter, mayos, flavoured cheese spreads, Nutella, butter alternatives etc.  So are we buying the right bread or are we simply swayed by names like, whole wheat, multigrain, high fibre, seven grain, super bread, heart healthy and convinced we are buying a healthy loaf? Read the facts below which can help you choose the best option available!

  • Wheat bread – if the bread looks brown in colour and says wheat – does not guarantee it is whole wheat or whole grain.  Wheat flour in our country usually means refined wheat flour –maida! Read the ingredient list, if it starts with wheat flour you can be sure it is maida that is used to make the bread. The brown colour can be obtained by adding natural colours like caramel!
  • Whole wheat bread – even if the bread says whole wheat – it may not be 100% — it may still have a good amount of maida – the first ingredient on the list is usually wheat flour, followed by whole wheat flour used in the range of 5-10%! Unless the bread says 100% whole wheat – for example the ingredient list should read – whole wheat flour (60%), wheat bran, yeast, sugar, salt.  The bran/fibre is added back to make it closer to a whole grain composition — this is definitely a healthier option to buy!
  • Multigrain myth – multigrain is not the same as whole grain. Whole grain/whole wheat is healthy as the outer layers of the grain rich in fibre and nutrients are used. Multigrain simply means different grain flours are used. Also the pictures on pack are not representative of the actual amounts used in making the bread! Example of a multigrain bread ingredient list – Wheat flour (which is maida), whole wheat flour 10%, cereal flours 5% – (maize/corn flour, ragi, oat) sugar.. so low level of flours are used! So 100% whole wheat bread may be a better choice than multigrain bread! It is now required to mention the percentage of key ingredients used -so do read the ingredient list carefully.
  • New age ingredients – some breads look healthy –with oats, flax seeds visible on the crust-  again do not get swayed by the look – read the ingredient list to see what the bread is made with.
  • Touch and taste –whole wheat bread is denser, chewier and actually may also spoil easily – so needs to be refrigerated.
  • Niche / gourmet bakeries -- if your family is eating a lot of bread – look up some bakers in your city to see if you can buy better quality bread. Yes these breads are expensive, but the chances of finding a healthier loaf is more –but again do read the ingredient list- – a fancy baker does not automatically mean whole wheat!
  • Making the switch - your family may resist the switch if they are used to soft sweet bread – but toasting the bread and serving with right accompaniments, should win them over. Their palates will adjust over time – just stay with it and soon they will refuse to eat white bread!
  • Bake your own bread – baking bread may seem daunting at first but if you do it a couple of times you will figure out it is not that difficult – many recipes are available on the net –the one below is an interesting one with yoghurt. Once you get the base recipe right, adding ingredients like herbs, flax seeds, toasted oats, is easy! Also you will get ‘additive free’ bread, which can be stored in the refrigerator for a week!

http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/100-whole-wheat-bread-atta-bread/

 Hope this blog will make you deliberate a bit more on your daily bread!

Picture courtesy -Google images

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Meera Srinivasan is on the ParentEdge Editorial Panel. She has a background in Nutrition and Food Technology and comes with more than 15 years of experience in the food industry. As an involved parent of a 12-year old girl, she is passionate about increasing awareness on nutrition and health among children and parents.

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