Bread facts and myths

Bread facts and myths

Bread is a staple of the Irish diet. It is an important food that most people happily eat every day. However, there are a few misconceptions about the nutritional value of bread and how it is made that we would like to clear up.

Facts about Ingredients

• All bread, including white bread, is made from four key ingredients flour, yeast, a little salt and water.
• All ingredients present in the final loaf are listed on the label or wrapper of a sliced pan so consumers know exactly what they are eating.
• Bread contains many nutrients such as iron, calcium and B vitamins. Some varieties are also fortified with vitamin D and seeds such as Chia, adding Omega 3 to the nutritional content; Organic white flour that is milled in the UK also contains calcium.
• Bread is low in fat and low in sugar. A report by the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance¹ (IUNA) found that white bread only contributes 1% to our daily fat and sugar intake.

Facts about Flour – Bleached & Unbleached: One of the most commonly heard false claims that is made about bread is that the flour in it has been bleached. This is false. All flour is unbleached in Europe and has been for the past 20 years.

Facts about GM: There are also no genetically modified flours used in Ireland.

Facts about additives: White flour often has vitamins added back in after milling. These vitamins are present in the part of the flour (the bran) that is removed to make both white and brown flour (they are still present in wholemeal flour). Sometimes Calcium is added too, as it is good for bone health. The fortification of flours (except wholemeal and some self-raising varieties) with calcium began in the early years of World War 2, in anticipation of a reduced supply of dairy products, and its addition continues today.

Facts about the Fermentation process: All bread goes through a fermentation stage, when the yeast feeds on the simple sugars that are released from the starch in the flour due to the action of the enzymes. The yeast releases CO2 from these sugars, which then allows the bread to rise.

Facts about Enzymes: Enzymes are naturally present in all flour. During fermentation, the bread flavours develop. For example, bacteria release lactic acid when making sourdough bread, and this gives it its unique flavour. The shorter the fermentation time, the less the flavours develop, which is why white sliced pan bread tastes different from sourdough or other breads made in the traditional fashion.

Recently, some questions have been asked regarding the Chorleywood Bread Process (CBP) and the exact effects it has on bread production. The CBP has been around for a long time and is simply a faster process of making dough in bread production. It reduces the fermentation time due to the high-speed mixing method. While the CBP adds some more enzymes to speed up the process, it is important to note that enzymes are naturally contained in all flour. Enzymes are proteins, simply natural biological catalysts. We have enzymes in our mouths in the form of amylase, which is the first stage of the digestion process as our body breaks down food. This is something that is taught in school science classes. During baking, the heat in the oven destroys the enzymes added through the CBP so they don’t exist in the final loaf and are therefore not included in the list of ingredients on the bread’s packaging.

Fat Facts

• White and wholemeal bread are officially low in fat - take a look at the Nutritional Label on wrapped sliced pan to see g/100g.
• All foods that have less than 3% fat are legally considered to be low fat.
• No fat is added to white bread.

Labelling Facts
• All ingredients present in the final loaf are listed on the label or wrapper of a sliced pan so consumers know exactly what they are eating.
• Enzymes are not listed on the label as they are completely destroyed by the heat during baking and don’t exist in the final loaf. They are, therefore, regarded as processing aids and, in accordance with EU legislation, are not required to be included in the list of ingredients.


Bread is fattening
· There is little or no fat or sugar in bread. A slice of bread has the same number of calories as a large apple.

Bread causes bloating
· Bloating is the new description for “I feel fat” or “I feel full”. We are meant to feel full after meals, but if you are over-full then maybe you ate too much food! A review by the British Nutrition Foundation¹ concluded that there was no scientific evidence that regular consumption of bread caused bloating or digestive problems.

Bread is unhealthy
· Contrary to what some may believe, bread is good for us and is an excellent source of proteins, vitamins especially the B Vitamins, Thiamine, Niacin, and Folic Acid; minerals (Calcium and iron); fibre and complex carbohydrates. It is also low in sugar and fat.

Bread is low in essential nutrients
· Bread is healthy as it contains many nutrients such as iron, calcium and B vitamins. Some varieties are also fortified with vitamin D and seeds such as Chia, adding Omega 3 to the nutritional content, making bread a major contributor to the nutrient intake of the Irish diet. at dinner. Bread can and should be included in your diet at least once a day.

· A scientific report relating to the consumption of white and wholemeal bread in Ireland and published by the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) in 2016 concluded that white bread is a source of many important nutrients for Irish consumers.

Bread makes your energy levels drop
· Although, if consumed alone, white and wholemeal breads cannot claim to have a low glycemic index, most of the time bread is combined with protein and fat: when it is eaten with a meal or as a sandwich, for example. This combination means that the carbohydrate is digested more slowly and glucose enters the bloodstream at a slower and more stable rate.

Like all good foods, bread should be an important part of a balanced diet. It is good value and is a source of many of the nutrients our bodies need, whatever your age. So, the next time you hear somebody making the claim that it is unhealthy or fattening, then just remember that hard scientific research proves the contrary.

Keep eating bread, it’s good for you!

For more information:

IUNA report (2016):$FILE/IUNA%20%20-%20IBBA%20Report%20Oct%202016%20Final.pdf

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