Busting 8 of the common bread myths

Posted: 1st Mar 2019

To celebrate Real Bread Week (23rd February - 3rd March), Juliette Kellow, the registered dietian and nutrition consultant for Panasonic, is debunking a few of the most commonly believed bread myths

Myth #1 Carbs are the enemy

Delving onto social media could leave you thinking carbohydrates are bad for you. In fact, it is often recommended you turn your back on them to help you lose weight and lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. However, health guidelines in the UK actually say we should include carbs on the menu.

That doesn't mean we should eat all the white pasta, mashed potatoes and long-grain rice we want, but instead, focus on  high-fibre and starchy carbs - for instance, wholegrains. You also want to keep an eye on portion sizes - this will be important if you want to maintain your weight or lose a little. It's also important to limit and refine our sugar-laden carbs too (sugary drinks, confectionary, biscuits, cakes, muffins and doughnuts). Instead, include wholemeal bread, whole wheat pasta and brown rice.

Myth #2 Bread is fattening

Bread isn't actually as high in calories as many think. Typically, a medium slice of bread will have around 90kcal, while thicker slices contain 130 calories. To put that into context, it's recommended by UK health guidelines that women have 2,000 calories and men aim for 2,500 each day. Instead, think about what you put on it. For example, butter or spread, olive oil, jam, honey or chocolate spread will all add calories. 

Myth #3 Bread is full of added sugar

Bread is actually low in sugar. The typical slice contains around one or two grams of sugar, which when you think the recommended intake is a maximum of 30g, is quite low. In fact, bread provides less than three per cent of the free sugars in adult diets in the UK.

Myth #4 Bloating bread

A report from the British Nutrition Foundation has found little proof that bread causes bloating or digestive discomfort on its own. People who have conditions (for instance coeliac disease) could suffer gastrointestinal symptoms if they eat bread - bloating is one of the main symptoms that undiagnosed coeliac disease can cause.

Myth #5 Wheat allergies

Studies have revealed that 20 to 30 per cent of us think we're allergic or intolerant to one or more foods. The reality is it's much closer to one or two per cent. If you think you could have an allergy or intolerance to wheat, it's vital to get it diagnosed by a properly qualified health professional. Start with a GP appointment - they can investigate and refer you to a registered dietitian if necessary. 

Myth #6 Lack of nutrients

White bread lacks the fibre that wholemeal varieties include, but it's still useful for providing energy-giving carbs, along with vitamins and minerals. As white flour is fortified with calcium and iron, the bread will subsequently contain both nutrients. Calcium is required for healthy bones, teeth and muscles, while iron is necessary for making red blood cells - these transport oxygen around our bodies. It also helps to limit tiredness and fatigue, ensuring our immune system functions well, and it's needed for normal cognitive function too.

Myth #7 Posh bread is better

It really doesn't matter if your bread is mass produced, made in your kitchen or an artisan bakery - research has revealed the vitamin content of bread that is baked using modern techniques will be similar to bread baked with more traditional methods - and this will apply just as much to white and wholemeal breads. It's also particularly helpful if you're making your own bread, either handmade or in a breadmaking machines, as it means you're in control of the ingredients. This gives you the option of making your bread healthier by using wholegrain, high-fibre flours, cutting your salt intake and including some extra nuts, seeds, oats or dried fruits.

Myth #8 Bread's hard to make

Bread is easy to make as a basic loaf only has a few key ingredients - these are flour, yeast, salt and water.

Tips courtesy of Juliette Kellow and Panasonic