Consumers should be eating wholegrain breads, not basic white that offers little nutritional value, says a UK nutritionist.
The UK’s bread association Federation of Bakers has launched its Slice of Life campaign that works to promote the health value of bread, particularly sliced white, in the diet.
Speaking to BakeryandSnacks.com, UK-based nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton said that when it comes to a healthy bread choice, whole grain is the best option.
“The best bread is wholegrain… We’ve got this fiber crisis in the UK and EU and I think we need to do everything possible to shift people to whole grain,” Ruxton said.
Healthy white bread?
Responding to the director of the Federation of Bakers Gordon Polson’s comments on the nutritional value of white bread, Ruxton said that white bread can contain calcium if the flour is fortified, but consumers could equally just drink milk.
“It’s certainly not high in iron either, unless you use spelt or something like that,” she added.
“White bread is a carbohydrate. Okay, it’s better than sweets, but cheap white bread made just with flour – there is no point in having it at all.”
Ruxton also noted that white bread has a very high glycemic index (GI) value – higher than that of white sugar. “If you have a diet very high in GI, it can contribute towards risk of obesity and diabetes. I’m not saying white bread gives you diabetes, but there have been studies done that link high GI diets with increased risk of developing it,” she said.
Industry needs to stay ‘on side’ with nutritionists
Ruxton said that bread manufacturers have worked hard and successfully developed a broad variety of breads using different grains. “I think industry has done a great job so far, but I wouldn’t like to see them rebalance it with promotions on white bread.”
“At the moment the bread industry has got nutritionists on side with increased variety and use of different grains. I’d like them to go further,” she said.
Ruxton said industry must look into ways to fortify and adapt basic white loaves so that they have a higher nutritional value, particularly when it comes to fiber.
“There’s lots of really interesting fibers that can be used and have got health claims that manufacturers could use on pack,” she said.
Oats, pectins and wheat bran are a few of the ingredients available to bread makers that carry an EFSA-approved health claim.
“It’s up to industry to include these things. They’re winning at the moment, but they need to continue efforts because you’ve still got the cheap white bread with nothing added to it that many consumers are stuck on eating because of cost or taste.”