Sep 22, 2017

Why brown bread is unhealthy?

 One of the items I stopped buying this year was the loaf of bread. Over the past 3-4 years, it was featuring regularly in my weekly grocery shopping. Though I’m not a fan of bread toast and sandwiches, my husband and daughter loved to eat a slice or two with jam or peanut butter. We would invariably waste nearly half the pack every week since it would have gone past the expiry date. We stopped buying it primarily because of the wastage.

There are so many variants of bread available in the market. Milk bread and sandwich bread are made of 100% maida. Many of us buy whole wheat bread or brown bread on a regular basis, thinking that we are making a healthier choice for ourselves. But is brown bread actually healthy? 

The best way to check is to look at its ingredients. Here’s a brown bread pack from “Daily Bread”, one of the popular brands in Bangalore.

Whole wheat flour (32%)
Refined Wheat flour
Edible common salt
Edible vegetable oil (Palm)
Class II preservative (282)
Improvers (1100, 1104,300)
Emulsifier (472e)
Acidity Regulator (260)
Flour treatment agent (510)
Permitted natural food colour (150a)

Brown bread has ONLY 32% of whole wheat flour and the rest is refined wheat flour or maida.
All packaged foods are made of palm oil, which is one of the cheapest edible oils that is bad for our health, environment and economy.

Let’s look at the list of 8 additives used in this product:

Class II preservative (282)
Called as Calcium propionate, a natural acid that acts as an antimicrobial preservative in food products, especially in bakery. It helps in the prevention of mold formation and extends shelf life. 
Linked to headaches, migraine, asthma and also aggravates food intolerances.

Amylase - Helps to break down complex starch found in flour. Causes the bread to rise. Derived from mould mushroom or pig pancreas.  
Amylase occurs naturally in yeast and so I’m not sure why there is a need to add it separately as well. 

Lipases - it is used as an emulsifier and processing aid in the breakdown of fats and oils, and as a flour treatment agent in baked goods and bakery products.

L-ascorbic acid. It is an artificial additive that helps to retain gas in the dough, which makes the loaf rise more.

Diacetyltartaric and fatty acid esters of glycerol.
Obtained from either soybeans (possibly GMO) or pork.

Acidity regulator
Acetic acid
Helps to control the acidity or alkalinity, so the required pH level can be maintained which prevents the growth of bacteria in the product.
Main component of vinegar, synthetically produced from wood fibres 
The main side effect of this additive is that it can trigger asthma.  

Flour treatment agent
Ammonium Chloride
Large amounts can cause acidosis - nausea, headaches, insomnia. 
Should be avoided by people with impaired liver or kidney function. 

Permitted natural food colour
Caramel colour - so now we know what gives the brown bread the “brown” colour. 
Caramel colouring can be produced from sugar or glucose from plant starches, typically from corn (possibly GMO) 

Looking at these long list of ingredients, Brown bread sounds as unhealthy as a pack of cookies or any other junk food. If you like to eat bread on a regular basis, it is much safer to bake it at home. I have baked bread at home a couple of times…All I had to use was flour (a combination of maida and wholewheat flour), yeast, little sugar, salt and little oil. No chemicals/additives are needed.

Given the number of issues that arise out of excess gluten consumption, the best option would be to avoid bread completely and switch to other healthy breakfast/snack alternatives.


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