Bread and superbread

Can bread really make you brainier?
 
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  • Updated:15 Sep 2006
 

01.Introduction

Bread_Loaf_iStock

In brief

  • Claims that certain breads keep you regular, are good for your heart, or make your kids brainier are mainly marketing hype.
  • The healthiest breads are those made from whole grains — plain old wholemeal and multigrain.
  • Knowing if bread is in fact wholemeal is not as simple as reading the label.

See our latest article on wholegrain breads.

Please note: this information was current as of September 2006 but is still a useful guide today.


Breaking the bread myth

It used to be there was white bread and brown bread. Now there’s high-fibre white bread, bread with low GI, bread with soy and linseed, bread with extra calcium, bread with omega-3s to name a few. They make some big health claims and come with a price tag to match.

But are these superbreads really worth paying extra for? Are they as good for you as the labels and ads claim?

What we tested

We took a close look at their ingredients and the science (if any) behind the claims for:

whole grains

dietary fibre

low glycaemic index

omega-3s

soy, linseed and phytoestrogens  

What we found

The healthiest breads are still those made from whole grains, such as wholemeal and multigrain.

However, some of the ‘wholemeal’ breads we found in the supermarkets were in fact made from a mixture of wholemeal and refined white flour, and the manufacturers don’t tell you how much wholemeal flour you’re getting.

For most foods, manufacturers are now required under the Food Standards Code to state the percentage of any ingredient that’s mentioned in the name. We’re taking it up with the state and territory health and food agencies responsible for enforcing the code. Bread is a staple food and consumers are entitled to know what’s in it.

While the health claims of some of the other ingredients, such as omega-3, are backed up by science, you may have to eat a lot more than a few slices a day to get the claimed benefits.

 
 

 

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