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Bread is one of those foods that many people love to hate.
We are often told that it is not good for us, even though we love the taste. Natalie Mokari is a Charlotte-based dietitian who said that there are whole diets focused on cutting out carbohydrates like bread.
She said: 'I have a lot clients who think that they shouldn't eat bread. This is sad because bread is an excellent source of whole grains.
She said that yes, it is true. Bread can be a part of a healthy diet and carbohydrates are essential for good health.
According to a study from 2017, it is a good idea for people to consume two to three servings of bread each day, because they help prevent diabetes type 2, cardiovascular disease and cancers such as colorectal and pancreatic.
Mokari stated, 'We require carbohydrates to function. Carbohydrates are essential for the brain. You will feel sluggish and have a lot of energy when you do not eat carbohydrates.
Mokari explained that when looking for the healthiest type of bread, many factors are to be considered, including what you buy, how you use it, and your relationship with it.
What are the health benefits of wheat, white or sourdough?
Is there one type of bread more nutrient-dense than others? What you're looking for will determine what type of bread is best.
Steph Grasso is a Washington-based dietitian who created TikTok. What does healthy mean to you?
Wheat breads are richer in vitamins, fiber and whole grains, and have a less negative effect on blood sugar. This can be beneficial for those with insulin resistance.
Mokari tells those who prefer white bread to go ahead and enjoy it.
She said that if you put them side-by-side, the labels are not all that different.
She suggested sourdough for those with concerns about their gut health, or who wanted to get the taste of white without the same amount of refinement.
If you are using slow-fermented sourdough you may find it easier to digest gluten.
Mokari suggested that you also consider the way it's made. She said to look for ingredients like flour, salt, water and yeast. This is because it is easy to sneak in higher levels of sodium and sugar into bread products.
Grasso says that whole grains will give you more fiber. Check the ingredients to avoid confusing labels. The first word on the list should say 'whole grain', if the bread is truly whole grain, said Grasso.
Grasso suggested that if you want to get a little more fiber, choose breads with seeds on the crust.
She suggested that you can find fresh, good-quality bread made with simple ingredients by buying it from local bakeries.
What about low-carb or diet breads? Mokari does not like low-carb breads. She said that they usually contain more unnecessary and added ingredients to improve the taste.
She said, "I respect people's choices if they feel low-carb diet is the best choice for them."
What should we eat?
Bread with healthy fats and protein
It is rare that people eat just bread, so you should consider the nutritional value of your entire meal.
Mokari says that if your blood sugar is a concern, you can include bread in a balanced diet if you combine it with healthy fats and protein.
Grasso explained that carbohydrates, such as those found in bread, can provide a quick boost of energy, but if you eat them alone, they will crash. Adding protein and fat to your diet helps maintain momentum.
Mokari continued, 'Whether you are eating white or whole grain bread, I will always encourage someone to have a source of protein and fat.'
She suggested pairing toast with avocado, eggs or peanut butter for breakfast.
Grasso says that sandwiches for lunch are often underrated because they combine carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. If she's having a large salad for dinner with protein, she makes sure to have carbs with it like a slice of bread.
Grasso stated that it's all about balance. It will give you energy and make you feel great.
Affordable bread is available
Grasso says that it is more important than just finding the right ingredient label to find out what works for you.
She said that breads are available at a wide range of prices, but no matter what your budget is, you can still find something to satisfy you.
Grasso stated that 'fancy doesn't always mean better'.
She said that if you love bread, you should eat it the way you want to. Restricting yourself from food you enjoy can be counterproductive and is not a happy way of living.
Mokari stated that the more restrictive you are, the more likely you will want to have it. So keep it in your mix.
Grasso explained that there may be a little anxiety about carb-heavy food like bread because the diet culture has led many to believe it causes people to gain weight. She said that carbohydrates are important and without them, you might feel sluggish or irritable.
Mokari stated that 'take that stigma away from the bread and other carbohydrate-rich foods that have long been demonized, and include them as part of a healthy diet'.
Grasso stated that you should treat your body with respect. It's better to maintain a non-restrictive attitude and balance your day.