Written By: Hadas Yariv (M.Sc, MBA), food technician and nutrition expert.
Bread has always been the base of the human diet. The grains’ high conservation capacity, the large carbs quantity and the nutritious value allowed our ancestors to live “on bread alone”. Historically, white bread, baked from white sifter flour, was considered the bread of the upper class, a clever and responsible choice for healthy living. Dark bread, however, was affiliated with the lower class or immigrants, who lived in poverty and poor conditions. Only the richest could afford pure white bread. The change occurred only around the 60’s of the 20th century, when scientific studies showed white sifted bread lacks vital and nutritious ingredients needed for a healthy diet, and the dark bread’s popularity rose.
So what is considered healthy bread? And how do we choose between all the different kinds on the shelf?
We put together all the information about wheat grains, different flours and different kinds of bread:
What are the components of the wheat grain?
Wheat grains contain three main components:
What is the difference between white flour, dark flour and whole wheat flour?
This flour contains smaller amounts of dietary fibers and other nutritional components compared to whole wheat flour.
What are the different types of bread?
Whole wheat bread – this bread contains all the parts of the kernel therefore is rich with dietary fibers, vitamins and minerals, provides complex carbohydrates and available energy and assists to achieve a feeling of satiety. There are many breads available made with 100% whole wheat flour, including pitas and rolls. There’s no doubt that products with 100% whole wheat flour are preferable over breads with white flour (Among Berman’s Bakery’s products we’ll mention for example Sliced Canaan Bread and Whole Wheat Squared Pita).
Whole Rye Bread – bread made from rye flour. Rye grains are grinded whole and contain many nutritional values, dietary fibers, B vitamins, manganese, magnesium and antioxidants. The bread has a sour taste and its texture is denser than this of a wheat flour bread. Rye flour is characterized with a low glycemic index: the blood sugar levels after eating rye bread are relatively lower and cause a moderate discharge of insulin. This process is beneficial for balancing blood sugar levels, therefore rye breads are recommended for diabetics (for example, 100% Rye Bread from Lechem Haretz Bakery and an exclusive bread by Libo Bakery).
This category includes the traditional pumpernickel bread. It origins from Germany, made from whole rye flour and rye sourdough. The sourdough and the slow baking grant the bread its dense texture and dark color. This bread also has a low glycemic index (for example, Pumpernickel Bread from Lechem HaAretz).
Pre Germination Wheat Bread – in these breads the wheat grains go through a unique and controlled process which brings them to sprout by soaking them in water. Thus the grains are grinded at their peak. This process provides a whole pre-germination wheat pastry, with high levels of dietary fibers, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. Studies show that flour made by this process has higher nutritional values than in flour made with regular grinding. These breads have high levels of vitamins from group B and folic acid (such as Berman LaYinyan and Vashash Rye Bread).
Sourdough Bread (Leavened) – traditional bread; in the past it was common to leaven bread in order to make it “rise:” Due to its high nutritional benefits, in recent years sourdough bread made it back in the food industry. This bread is leavened with flour and water alone, soaked in an extensive process. The bread contains wild yeasts resourced in air and flour. The leavened rye is inserted into the dough and causes the fermentation and rise. The use of leavened rye prologs the bread’s shelf life and gives it a unique and particular sour flavor as well as a light, delicate crispy texture. Sourdough bread has many nutritional benefits: it increases the availability of minerals in the blood (magnesium, iron and zinc), increases the function of antioxidants, helps with balancing blood sugar, increases the pro-biotic stomach activity and has a positive influence on gluten digestion (for example, sourdough by Lechem HaAretz, sunflower bread by Lechem HaArztez).
Grain bread – the base of grains bread is usually whole wheat flour, combined with flour from various grains and/or different seeds. Beyond the additional taste and crispiness, the kernel is known for its high nutritional value, richness of vitamins, minerals and monounsaturated fat. Among the grains and seeds commonly added you will find oatmeal, rye, millet, barley, sunflower and flax (For example, Berman’s Grain bread).
Spelt Bread – spelt is an ancient grain; it is the modern name of the wild wheat originated from Israel. The spelt is characterized by a different protein composition of the common wheat protein, and is easier to digest. Spelt bread is marketed as health bread.
Dark flour bread – Bread made with whole wheat flour. Common dark bread contains more dietary fibers than white flour, but a lot less than whole wheat flour. It is good for those who have trouble switching from white bread to whole wheat bread. It is recommended to consume common bread for a limited period and then gradually transfer to whole wheat flour (such as sliced common bread enriched with vitamins by Vadash Bakery).
Light Bread – this category includes all breads and other baking goods with a calorific value reduced by a 1/3 compared to products of the same kind. These baked products contain a large amount of soluble and insoluble dietary fibers added to them. The dietary fibers assist with absorbing the water thus reducing the pastry’s calorific value. Two slices of light bread are usually equal with their calorific value to one slice of regular bread. Studies show that dietary fibers contribute to feeling full, assist with balancing lipid levels, improve the digestive system’s function and even increase the pro-biotic activity in the stomach. For pre diabetic patients it is highly recommended to consume light rye bread from 100% whole rye flour. Rye flour has a low glycemic index which assists with leveling the glucose in the blood (for example: Berman’s Light Grains Bread, 100% Light Rye Bread from Lechem HaAretz, Berman’s Light Bread and Light Grains Rolls by Vadash(.
White Bread– bread baked with white flour, including rolls and pitas. White flour contains the endosperm only, thus is light in nutritional facts of the kernel parts (dietary fibers, antioxidants and minerals). Baked goods made with white flour provide simple carbohydrates, and it is recommended to limit their consumption.
Bread is the main source of carbs.
Consumption of breads and baking goods made from whole wheat flour is better for our health.
Many researches recommend consumption of whole grains for a healthy lifestyle, for a number of reasons:
• Whole grains help the digestive system, increase the feeling of satiety and assist with maintaining a normal weight.
• Whole grains reduce the risk of heart diseases.
• Whole grains assist with balancing blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
• Whole grains assist with balancing lipid levels and reducing levels of cholesterol in the blood.
• Wheat dietary fibers are attributed with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties.
How do we know the bread is made with whole wheat flour?
The most efficient way is to read the list of ingredients on the back of the package. The first ingredient that should appear is whole wheat flour- that is the only way to know it is the main ingredient. You will also find information about its percentage of all the flours, for example: “whole wheat flour (100% of all flour, 56% of the product weight (“.
What about the color of the bread?
As the percentage of whole wheat flour in the bread increases, the bread’s color tends to be browner (yet not very dark). Please note: there are breads and baked goods in the market with added caramel color, which does not necessarily indicate their components and nutritious value.
* Israeli standard 46 for wheat flour.