Nearly 200 million Americans used one package of bread a week on average in 2020. With so many households using bread products as a staple for their meals throughout the day, the nutritional value of bread comes into question. If you or your family are eating bread every day or even on rare occasions, you should know whether it’s good for you or not. Explore this guide to see the health benefits of bread, including the bread nutrition of different products you probably enjoy almost every day.
Is Bread Good for You?
For many people, bread is a pantry staple. They almost always have it on hand, using it in any meal throughout the day. Whether you toast it, make sandwiches or transform it in different recipes, you may find yourself asking, “Is bread healthy?” With so many bread products and types out there, it’s best not to answer that question with a sweeping “yes.” But there are health benefits to different kinds of bread.
Overall, the products you choose determine if bread is good for you. You want products made with quality ingredients from a trusted manufacturer. How you eat bread products will also affect the impact on your health. As with all things, you should enjoy bread in moderation to avoid any drawbacks. Some suggest limiting yourself to one serving of bread per meal or per day, depending on what else you eat and the type of bread product you’re enjoying. Check the bread nutrition facts and follow serving suggestions or enjoy less at a time, based on your diet.
Carefully consider what you eat with your bread, as well. The sandwich fillings or spreads you use on a slice of bread, English muffin or bagel can impact the overall healthiness of what you eat. Consider enjoying bread with low-fat or similar healthy alternatives to your favorite spreads. Balance what you put on sandwiches and consider what else you eat in a day to get the most health benefits from bread.
8 Health Benefits of Bread
While how you eat your bread and what kind you enjoy influence how healthy it is, bread does come with various health benefits. Those nutritional aspects can make bread an essential part of your meals. In fact, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests grains, of which at least half should be whole grains, as a part of a healthy eating pattern. So enjoying bread can become a part of a balanced diet. You can then get different health benefits of bread, like these:
1. Bread Contains Fiber
Different bread products contain varying amounts of fiber, but you can generally find at least 1 gram per serving. And this is an essential nutrient to eat every day. Many know fiber for keeping your digestive system moving, but it does more than that. When you eat fiber, it can help you:
- Feel fuller: When your body works to break down food containing fiber, you feel fuller longer. That could help you avoid overeating in one sitting or eating too much throughout the day. Some types of fiber that have this effect can even help you lose weight.
- Manage blood sugar: Foods high in fiber often have a lower glycemic index (GI), a ranking that reflects how foods affect blood sugar. With a lower GI, certain foods that are high in fiber, like some bread products, can help reduce blood sugar spikes after a meal that’s high in carbs.
Bread will most often contain insoluble fiber, which comes from sources like whole wheat flour. Our bodies can’t break down and absorb this type of fiber, so it goes through us relatively intact, helping to sweep through the digestive system. You might also find bread with ingredients that include soluble fiber, like oats or barley. Soluble fiber dissolves into a gel in water and can help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
2. Bread Has a Prebiotic Effect
This bread health benefit comes courtesy of fiber, which acts as a prebiotic. Our bodies contain beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. These are sometimes called good gut bacteria, and they protect our digestive systems and bodies from things like harmful bacteria and fungi. Probiotics consume prebiotics, which often come from carbs and fiber that we can get by eating bread and bread products.
When you eat bread products with fiber and carbs, the probiotics consume those nutrients and continue maintaining your body’s healthy balance. And it’s important to keep that good bacteria fed. A study concerning gut bacteria’s role in our health found that probiotics help our immune systems function, address obesity and improve depression symptoms, among other benefits. It’s essential, then, to introduce beneficial bacteria to your system and to feed that bacteria prebiotics, as well.
When probiotics consume fiber from the food you eat, they turn that into different things, including butyric acid. This short-chain fatty acid is responsible for giving colon cells the energy they need to function. Around 70% of the energy your colon cells get comes from butyric acid. That means eating bread with dietary fiber can help keep your digestive system functioning in addition to your good gut bacteria.
3. Bread Contains Protein
According to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein, you should try to consume 0.36 times your body weight in pounds of protein a day in grams. For instance, that means that someone who weighs 150 pounds should try to consume 54 grams of protein a day. While bread doesn’t contain as much protein as other foods, it is a low- to no-fat way of meeting your daily protein goals. Getting enough protein in your diet can help:
- Reduce your appetite: Protein reduces levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. That can help you feel fuller while eating less food, and you could avoid overeating.
- Increase muscle mass: Protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass and strength. If you’re trying to lose weight without losing muscle, ensure you consume enough protein.
- Maintain bone health: Eating protein can help maintain bone mass as you age. That prevents fractures and other issues.
Bread, in addition to other protein-rich foods, can get you those and other benefits of protein. Bread as a protein source is often vegan- and vegetarian-friendly, as well. If you don’t eat meat, you may have trouble getting protein in your diet. Eating bread and other protein alternatives can help you reach your daily protein goal.
4. Bread Can Be Enriched With Micronutrients
The nutritional value of bread on its own already includes some essential nutrients. But bakeries can enrich their products with additional micronutrients, creating more bread health benefits. When making certain products, manufacturers process and refine grains. That process often removes the outer layer of the grain, which is generally the most nutritious part. To make up for that nutrient loss, manufacturers add micronutrients into their bread products, like:
- Iron: This trace mineral helps create certain hormones and brings oxygen to our muscles.
- Thiamine: Also known as vitamin B1, thiamine helps our bodies convert nutrients into energy.
- Riboflavin: Also known as vitamin B2, riboflavin helps with cell function, fat metabolism and energy production.
- Niacin: Also known as vitamin B3, niacin helps our bodies derive energy from food.
- Calcium: This micromineral supports our bones and teeth. It also helps blood vessels contract and muscles function.
Those added micronutrients help boost the health benefits of bread, especially for certain bread products and types.
5. Bread Contains Folic Acid
Manufacturers can add folic acid, a synthetic vitamin, to fortify their bread products in addition to other naturally occurring micronutrients. Folic acid is a common addition to fortified foods, and it’s a synthetic version of folate, which is a type of B vitamin. Our bodies can’t naturally make their own folate, so folic acid supplements this vitamin we might otherwise miss out on.
While folic acid and folate differ slightly in how they benefit the body, they’re still essential for a proper diet. Manufacturers add folic acid to food and ingredients like flour, meaning you could get this synthetic vitamin in your bread products. When you eat bread products that are fortified with folic acid, you get these benefits:
- Repairing and synthesizing DNA
- Helping cellular division
- Helping the maturation of red blood cells
- Promoting other metabolic processes folic acid to prevent folic deficiency.
The United States and other countries require grain product manufacturers to fortify food with folic acid to prevent folic deficiency. Many diet issues, diseases, and other situations, like pregnancy, can lead to a lack of folate for many individuals. Fortifying products with foic acid addresses folic deficiency, and it’s essential for promoting brain health and preventing congenital disabilities and pregnancy complications.
6. Bread Fuels Your Body
Low- and no-carb diet trends leave many people thinking all carbs are bad. But certain carbohydrates are necessary to fuel your body for the day ahead. Carbohydrates are known as a macronutrient, and they’re responsible for giving our bodies energy. Carbs include three things — starch, fiber and sugar — which you can then split into complex and simple carbs. Fiber and starch are complex, while sugar is simple, and bread contains all of those carbohydrate types.
Complex carbs are better for you because they provide your body with more nutrients. These carbohydrates give you energy that lasts longer as your body works harder to digest them. Simple carbs will give your body energy, as well, but that fuel burns more quickly than starch and fiber. That makes bread products beneficial meals for starting your day — you may find you have the energy to make it through the usual mid-morning slump onto lunch.
7. Bread Is Low in Fat
Many bread products have 0 grams of trans and saturated fats per serving. Those are considered the unhealthy fats that you’ll find in butter or margarine. Use those spreads sparingly on your bread, and you’ll have a low- to no-fat meal to enjoy. In general, you should try to avoid trans fat completely and cut down on your saturated fats. Eating foods with high levels of those fats can contribute to these negative health impacts:
- Increased blood cholesterol
- Increased LDL, or bad, cholesterol
- Increased heart disease risk
- Higher risk of inflammation
Luckily, you won’t often find saturated and trans fats in most bread products. As long as you avoid pairing your bread with spreads or fillings that are high in those fats, you can have a low-fat meal.
8. Bread Can Decrease the Risk of Cancer
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), there is probably evidence that whole grains and foods with dietary fiber can decrease the risk of colorectal cancer. The AICR explains this discovery as strong research showing a relationship between certain nutrients and their potential to decrease cancer risk. With fiber and whole grains involved in the emerging research, some say certain bread products can help fight cancer.
It’s important to note that this research applies to whole grains, not just whole wheat. While whole wheat and grain maintain the three components of a kernel — the bran, the germ and the endosperm — that provide nutrients, whole grains include products in addition to wheat. You can find whole wheat bread products that also include ingredients that fall under the whole grain category, though, like barley and rye. Those can potentially provide this significant health benefit.
Health Benefits of Different Bread Products
With those various bread health benefits in mind, you’ll want to select the products that are best for you and your family. So which type of bread is the healthiest? That will depend on what type of nutritional benefits you want from your bread. Luckily, every type of bread product offers different health advantages, making each one the healthiest in unique ways, when you enjoy them in moderation according to the serving size.
Health Benefits of White Bread
This product is a staple for many households, but is white bread good for you? You’ve probably heard the claims before that white bread doesn’t have the nutritional benefits other bread varieties do. But a study comparing sourdough to white bread found no major different clinical effects between the two. Researchers found similarities between how sourdough and white bread affected:
- Cholesterol levels
- Fat levels
- Kidney and liver enzymes
- Various nutrient levels
The study concluded that white bread’s nutrition, especially concerning blood sugar spikes, largely depends on the person. But in most cases, manufacturers balance the nutrition in white bread by enriching it with micronutrients lost during the grain refining process. That means the health benefits of white bread include essential vitamins and minerals, like iron and various B vitamins.
You might also be surprised when you look at white bread’s nutrition facts. Gold Medal Bakery’s premium white bread, for instance, has 0 grams of saturated and trans fats and 0 milligrams of cholesterol. And our white bread provides a few grams of protein in every serving, helping you reach your daily protein needs. You’ll find similar nutrition facts among other types of white bread, as well.
Health Benefits of Wheat Bread
Since half of your grain intake every day should be whole grains, you know wheat bread has health benefits to offer. Wheat bread is often high in protein, fiber and various micronutrients that benefit various body functions. Micronutrients like these help your body get the health benefits of wheat bread:
- Manganese: This trace mineral helps your body metabolize amino acids, carbs and cholesterol.
- Selenium: You need this trace mineral to defend your body against oxidative damage and to benefit thyroid health and reproduction.
- Folate: Folate, or vitamin B9, promotes proper cell division.
- Potassium: This macromineral is an electrolyte that benefits muscle function and nerve transmission. It also helps your cells maintain a fluid state.
- Magnesium: This macromineral plays a role in more than 300 enzyme reactions, like regulating blood pressure.
You can also get whole grain bread benefits if you select products containing different grains in addition to wheat. Eating whole grains can help prevent things like colorectal cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Health Benefits of Bread Rolls
Determining the health benefits of bread rolls will largely depend on what kind you eat and what you eat on or with them. At Gold Medal Bakery, we offer white and wheat rolls in different varieties. Both our white and wheat hot dog rolls have no grams of trans or saturated fats per serving and no cholesterol. White hot dog rolls have slightly less fiber but a gram more of protein. So ultimately, the specific nutrients you get from bread rolls will vary with the kind you choose.
Health Benefits of English Muffins
As a breakfast staple for many, English muffins are a healthier alternative than other baked goods you might enjoy in the morning. English muffins offer a filling breakfast with less sugar than you’d find in breakfast pastries. And English muffins have similar nutritional value to bread — you’ll get some protein and fiber with almost no fat or cholesterol. English muffins offer micronutrients like niacin, riboflavin, thiamine and manganese. They can also contain phosphorus, which is an essential part of cell membrane and bone structure.
To get the most benefits from English muffins, no matter what time of day you enjoy them, start with whole wheat options. If you’re looking to enjoy a filling breakfast with fewer calories, pick up Gold Medal Bakery’s light English muffins. Maintain the English muffin’s nutritional value by carefully considering what you put on top of it, as well. Avoid spreads that are high in trans and saturated fats or sugar.
Health Benefits of Bagels
Bagels are another popular and convenient breakfast option, but you could even enjoy one for a meal later in the day. So do they come with any health benefits? To get the most health benefits of bagels, be mindful of how you eat them. Choose your spreads and toppings carefully and consider whole grain bagel varieties. Be mindful of the portion sizes, eating half a bagel or selecting smaller products to help create a balanced eating pattern.
With the right choices for your bagel, you could get benefits like protein, fuel for your body and positive effects from whole grains. Bagels from Gold Medal Bakery have a couple of grams of fiber and around 10 grams of protein per serving. Our wheat bagels up the benefits with more grams of fiber and protein per serving. It’s also worth noting that most bagel varieties have no cholesterol.
Choose Delicious Gold Medal Bakery Bread Products
Create delicious and nutritious meals any time of day with help from Gold Medal Bakery. We’ve been baking the highest quality bread for over a century, and when you choose Gold Medal Bakery products, you get all the benefits of our hard work and experience. At Gold Medal Bakery, we’re committed to baking the best products that meet your specific needs. Whether you want to enjoy the health benefits of bread in a delicious loaf or you’re looking for tasty specialty products, you’ll find them with Gold Medal Bakery.
Find our products in a store near you or contact us to learn more about the benefits of bread.