Yesterday I received an email from the Federation of Bakers in response to a newspaper article I was quoted in saying white bread isn’t healthy. They wanted to try and convince me otherwise…
This e-mail, trying to persuade me that white bread is a nutritious ‘British staple’ was amusing to say the least, filled with twisted science and obvious corporate spin.
The Federation of Bakers website homepage states that the organisation ‘represents the interests of the UK’s largest baking companies who manufacture sliced and wrapped bread, bakery snacks and other products.’ (Read: the big companies selling ultra processed foods, no mention of representing traditional, local bread makers). ‘It is a £3 billion industry at retail sales value.’ These are big companies who make big profits from selling cheap, ultra processed food-like products. Profits that they are clearly very keen to protect.
Is white bread healthy? I’ll break down the points this e-mail raised and answer them one by one:
“Bread provides nearly as much dietary fibre as vegetables (with around half of this coming from white bread)”
So eat vegetables. ‘Nearly as much’ = less. Whether you’re opting for fresh, tinned or frozen vegetables, they are likely to contain more fibre with no refined flours, trans fats, preservatives and emulsifiers. Not to mention a whole lot more naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and other beneficial nutrients. You do not need to eat bread to get enough fibre.
REDUCED DISEASE RISK
“Diets rich in dietary fibre are associated with a lower incidence of long term conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colon and rectal cancers, so bread can play an important part maintaining our long-term health.”
Diets dominated by high glycemic carbohydrates (like white bread) are directly linked to type 2 diabetes and increasingly linked to cardiovascular disease and cancers. We’ve already established there are better sources of fibre than refined, processed food.
A SOURCE OF VITAMINS AND MINERALS
“White bread contributes to your daily intake of folic acid, vitamin B1, iron and is an excellent source of non-dairy calcium.”
These nutrients are not naturally present but are in fact added in during processing. If you eat whole, unprocessed and unrefined foods you’ll find these nutrients naturally present. You don’t need to add nutrients into a food that hasn’t been so refined and stripped of all it’s goodness in the first place.
“We finally wanted to touch on your comment about how meals centred on carbohydrates and sugar can leave one feeling low on energy afterwards and perhaps make them more likely to snack later in the day. Food stuffs such as bread are rarely eaten in isolation. Combining bread with foods with a low GI (e.g. tuna, cheese) will ensure the overall index of the meal is balanced and will keep your blood sugar levels balanced, and your energy levels high.”
Here they are as good as admitting that white bread is high glycemic. It’s fair to say that combining high glycemic foods with low glycemic ones will lower the overall glycemic impact, but why eat high glycemic foods in the first place? Plus, many people regularly consume white bread without protein – think toast and jam for a start. Not to mention the ‘bakery snacks’ they represent – do you eat protein alongside bakery snacks? Boiled egg with your mid afternoon biscuit?!
The food industry is a multi billion dollar industry and as with any business, their focus is on profits. These companies thrive off selling cheap to produce foods at a high mark up. They don’t care about your health. Think carefully about what you choose to put in your basket. If you enjoy bread, opt for a healthier option such as Biona’s rye bread or better still, make your own. I love this Life-Changing Loaf recipe.