Many people eat bread as part of a staple diet without thinking anything of it. Here's an article that will bring you up to speed. Don't know your wholemeal from your wholegrain? You will after you've read this!
White bread is like the shell of a nut – it's had all the goodness taken out. "That basically means the wheatgerm and bran are removed," explains MH nutritionist Carina Norris, author of You Are What You Eat, the meal planner that will change your life. Because of its low nutritional value, white bread has to be fortified with calcium, iron and B vitamins - this is a legal stipulation.
The goodness you get: "Four slices of white bread a day supply you with around a sixth of your recommended calcium and up to a third of your iron intake," says Norris. It also contains vitamin B1 and thiamine, which are essential for healthy nerve and muscle function. But use your loaf and avoid white bread if you can, as there are much better options available.
Best white sliced: Hovis Best of Both
Don't judge this loaf by its colour: "Brown bread, like its white friend, is made from refined flour, with varying amounts of fibre and wheatgerm removed," says Norris. "Sometimes colouring is added to make it browner. To make sure you're not buying dyed white bread, look at the fibre content. White bread has a lower fibre content than the real stuff. Just like the white stuff, brown bread has to be fortified with calcium, iron and B vitamins.
The goodness you get: Four slices provide you with a sixth of your daily calcium intake. Brown bread may seem a healthy option, but it contains only about half the fibre found in wholemeal bread," says Norris.
Best brown sliced: Allinson's High-Bran Fibre-Rich brown loaf.
Granary bread can be made from any kind of flour, but contains added wholegrains. "More often than not it's made from wholemeal, though," explains Norris. Just choose your loaf when picking granary bread and you'll end up with the best option.
The goodness you get: Granary bread contains extra wholewheat grains to boost folate levels, which reduces heart disease. "Granary has a higher fibre rating because of the grains," says Norris. "But you still need to check the fibre content, as some are made with ‘brown' flour rather than wholegrain."
Best granary sliced: Hovis Large Sliced Granary Loaf
"Wholemeal is made from the whole grain – so you get the nutrition from the wheat germ and the grain's bran coat," explains Norris. "The great thing about wholemeal bread is it doesn't need fortification, as it contains vitamins and minerals naturally." Meaning you get better bread for your bread.
The goodness you get: "This stuff is packed full of fibre – four slices supply around a third of your daily requirement," says Norris. As well as being high in fibre, wholemeal provides quantities of the antioxidant vitamin E and also provides zinc – essential for your nervous system and keeping your little swimmers in top shape.
Best wholemeal sliced: Kingsmill Medium Sliced Wholemeal Loaf
"This bread uses white or brown flour with at least 10 per cent added wheatgerm," says Norris.
The goodness you get: Wheatgerm bread really earns its crust by being a great supplier of iron. "Four slices pack as much iron as a 100g rump steak, believe it or not," says Norris. To maximise the absorption of the iron take some vitamin C (a glass of OJ anyone?). Wheatgerm also provides good levels of protein, calcium and zinc.
Best wheatgerm sliced: Hovis Original Wheatgerm.
"Depending on whether the ‘basic bread' is made from white, brown or wholemeal flour, this can pack in the most fibre per slice with plenty of added nutrients – thanks to the added multigrains," says Norris.
The goodness you get: Multigrain is enriched with heart healthy folic acid – five slices provides 118% of your recommended daily intake. It's also the only bread with added B12. Use your brain when choosing grain and see how much B12 it contains before you buy, as some brands are better than others.
Best multigrain sliced: Tesco multigrain batch loaf
To find out even more about bread, head to PAUL. The quintessential French family bakery will be hosting London's first ever bread festival. It will showcase a selection from their range of 142 different types of bread and guests will also have the opportunity to enjoy wine and cheese pairing tastings.