There are very few things that beat the smell of freshly cut grass, summer rain, walks on the beach, and a good book, but let’s face it… soft, sliced bread may just top that list for most! While we can all appreciate the sense awakening ability that bread has, not all appreciate what it offers to our diet, undeservedly so. We take a look at a few common bread myths:

The reason for putting on weight comes down to the simple equation that: a person is eating too much for what the body is using up. When we say ‘using up’ that is not just exercise but includes the basic fuel your body uses to just work and keep going. Gaining weight should not be attributed to just one food item like bread. If bread is part of a healthy diet where you are not eating too many calories for what you are using then bread won’t make you fat but rather be part of your healthy lifestyle.

Portion control is important in preventing weight gain. The average intake of two slices of bread at a meal is the suggested serving which would provide a good amount of calories to provide energy but not excessive to cause weight-gain.

Bread toppings can also alternate between being healthy or unhealthy. Smearing chocolate spread on your toast will then make it an unhealthy snack which is high in sugar, fat and calories. Low fat cottage cheese, sliced tomato and sprinkled with ground fresh black pepper on the other hand would be a great addition of protein, vitamins and minerals without excessive amounts of fat or sugar.

Not all breads are created equal, low GI bread providing slow sustained energy release and keeping you fuller for longer actually has the potential to form part of a healthy weight loss/management diet.

Constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, abdominal pain, and gas are all troubles we all don’t like experiencing. It is often a challenge to point the cause for one of these symptoms to bread as all these symptoms are so common in many other situations. The fibre content of bread could have an effect on the gut but it’s important to note that fibre is vital for good gut health. Try different varieties in bread which may vary in fibre content to find what suits you best.

Bread is considered a staple food as it is consumed by many people and can be part of the basis of a diet. As most South Africans eat a large amount of bread the government has made it law to fortify the bread flour with certain key nutrients such as iron and vitamin A. This way bread provides some basic nutrients which may be lacking in many South African’s meals. Breads on the market today often have even more nutrients than those specified by the government to fortify with. For example FUTURELIFE® Smart Bread™ is a source of 13 vitamins and 4 minerals.

Bread does contain salt as it adds flavour as well as helps to make the gluten more stable when baking. However, the amount of salt has not always been very healthy for one’s heart and blood pressure. Luckily, the government have passed a legislation in South Africa to force manufacturers to reduce the salt content of their products. Since June 2016 bread should contain less than 400mg sodium per 100g1. This will make bread much more ‘heart-healthy’. The best would be to read labels and compare bread’s salt content.

Gluten, a word whispered for those that love it, and shouted for those that blame it for everything, has become quite a hot topic as of late. While gluten should most definitely be avoided for individuals suffering with the likes of coeliac disease, or gluten intolerance, it needn’t be avoided by all others. Gluten, especially in bread, plays a vital function in its form and nutritional composition- gluten is in fact a protein responsible for the shape and texture of your loaf, assisting in holding it together and making it rise (offering a more fluffier light loaf compared to those gluten-free dense options). This gluten-free trend for individuals that don’t need it doesn’t always mean weight loss, as many gluten-free variants are a lot more energy and structurally dense, needless to say a lot more expensive, unnecessary and needlessly complicated.

As we can see, bread can play an important part in one’s daily eating. The trick to getting the most from your loaf is learning which breads are better at meeting you and your families requirements, and how best to dress and portion them.