About Bread

Making and Preparing Bread

Bread Nutritional Profile


Energy value (calories per serving): Moderate

Protein: Moderate

Fat: Low to moderate

Saturated fat: Low to high

Cholesterol: Low to high

Carbohydrates: High

Fiber: Moderate to high

Sodium: Moderate to high

Major vitamin contribution: B vitamins

Major mineral contribution: Calcium, iron, potassium


About the Nutrients in Bread


All commercially made yeast breads are approximately equal in nutritional value. Enriched white bread contains virtually the same amounts of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates as whole wheat bread, although it may contain only half the dietary fiber.


Bread is a high-carbohydrate food with lots of starch. The exact amount of fiber, fat, and cholesterol in the loaf varies with the recipe. Bread's proteins, from grain, are low in the essential amino acid lysine. The most important carbohydrate in bread is starch; all breads contain some sugar. Depending on the recipe, the Eats may be highly saturated (butter or hydrogenated vegetable fats) or primarily unsaturated (vegetable Eat).

All bread is a good source of B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin), and in 1998, the Food and Drug Administration ordered food manufacturers to add folates—which protect against birth defects of the spinal cord and against heart disease—to flour, rice, and other grain products. One year later, data from the Framingham Heart Study, which has followed heart health among residents of a Boston suburb for nearly half a century, showed a dramatic increase in blood levels of folic acid. Before the fortification of foods, 22 percent of the study participants had a folic acid deficiency; after, the number fell to 2 percent.


Bread is a moderately good source of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. (Breads made with milk contain more calcium than breads made without milk.) Although bread is made from grains and grains contain phytic  acid, a natural antinutrient that binds calcium ions into insoluble, indigestible compounds, the phytic acid is inactivated by enzyme action during leavening. Bread does not bind calcium.


All commercially made breads are moderately high in sodium; some contain more sugar than others. Grains are not usually considered a good source of iodine, but commercially made breads often pick up iodine from the iodophors and iodates used to clean the plants and machines in which they are made.


Homemade breads share the basic nutritional characteristics of commercially made breads, but you can vary the recipe to suit your own taste, lowering the salt, sugar, or fat and raising the fiber content, as you prefer.


The Most Nutritious Way to Serve Bread


As sandwiches, with cheese, milk, eggs, meat, fish, or poultry. These foods supply the essential amino acid lysine to "complete" the proteins in grains.

With beans or peas. The proteins in grains are deficient in the essential amino acids lysine and isoleucine and rich in the essential amino acids tryptophan, methionine, and cystine. The proteins in legumes (beans and peas) are exactly the opposite.


Diets That May Restrict or Exclude Bread


Gluten-free diet (excludes breads made with wheat, oats, rye, buckwheat and barley flour)

Lactose-free diet

Low-fiber diet (excludes coarse whole-grain breads)

Low-sodium diet

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