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Certain types are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, while others are made from refined grains and offer little in terms of nutrition.
Naturally, you may wonder what kind of bread is healthiest.
Here are the 7 healthiest breads you can choose.
1. Sprouted Whole Grain
Sprouted bread is made from whole grains that have started to sprout from exposure to heat and moisture.
Sprouting has been shown to increase the amount and availability of certain nutrients (1).
One study found that pita bread made with 50% sprouted wheat flour had over 3 times as much folate, a vitamin critical for converting food into energy, than pita made without sprouted wheat flour (2).
What's more, this process breaks down some of the starch in grains and decreases carb content.
Therefore, sprouted grains do not increase blood sugar as much as other grains, making them a good choice for people with diabetes or reduced blood sugar control (5).
Plus, most sprouted breads are high in fiber and protein. As such, they're more filling than more refined breads (6).
- Calories: 80
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 0.5 grams
- Carbs: 15 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
Sprouting helps increase the amount and availability of certain nutrients. Breads made from sprouted whole grains are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and may have less of an impact on blood sugar than other breads.
Sourdough is made through a fermentation process that relies on naturally occurring yeast and bacteria to make the bread rise (8).
Fermentation helps reduce the number of phytates, also known as phytic acid, that bind to certain minerals and impair their absorption (9).
Sourdough may also be easier to digest than other breads, possibly due to its prebiotics, as well as the probiotics created during the fermentation process (8).
Probiotics are healthy bacteria found in your body and certain foods, whereas prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that feed these bacteria. Getting enough of each promotes good gut health and digestion (10).
Finally, sourdough bread is thought to have a low glycemic index (GI), a measure of the impact a food has on blood sugar (11).
One slice (47 grams) of whole-wheat sourdough gives (14):
- Calories: 120
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbs: 20 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
Sourdough bread is made through a fermentation process that boosts its digestibility, improves the availability of certain nutrients, and lowers its blood sugar effects.
3. 100% Whole Wheat
Whole grains keep the entire grain intact, including the germ, endosperm, and bran. The bran, which is the hard, outer layer, is high in fiber (15).
The bran and germ also contain protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds, while the endosperm is mostly starch (15).
That's why whole grains, including whole wheat, are higher in fiber and considered more nutritious than refined grains, which have been processed to remove the bran and germ.
However, it's important to note that many manufacturers label breads "whole wheat" so that they appear healthier, even when they mostly consist of refined flour.
Look for breads that have 100% whole-wheat or whole-grain flour listed as their first ingredient and do not sneak unnecessary ingredients, such as added sugars or vegetable oils.
One slice (46 grams) of whole-wheat bread contains (18):
- Calories: 110
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 0.5 grams
- Carbs: 23 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
Whole-wheat bread made from 100% whole-wheat flour is higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals than breads made from refined wheat.
4. Oat Bread
Oat bread is typically made from a combination of oats, whole-wheat flour, yeast, water, and salt.
Since oats are highly nutritious and linked to a number of health benefits, oat bread can be a healthy choice.
In particular, oats are high in fiber and beneficial nutrients, including magnesium, vitamin B1 (thiamine), iron, and zinc. The fiber in oats, known as beta-glucan, may help lower cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar, and decrease high blood pressure (19, 20, 21, 22).
A review of 28 studies found that eating 3 grams or more of oat beta-glucan per day significantly decreased LDL (bad) and total cholesterol levels compared to not eating oats (20).
The study also found that the cholesterol-lowering effects of beta-glucan in oats were greater in people with higher baseline cholesterol levels (20).
However, just because a bread has "oats" or "oatmeal" on its label doesn't mean that it's healthy. Some oat breads only have a small amount of oats and are mostly made of refined flours, added sugars, and oils.
To find a more nutritious oat bread, look for one that lists oats and whole-wheat flour as the first two ingredients.
One slice (48 grams) of whole-grain oat bread contains (21):
- Calories: 130
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fat: 1.5 grams
- Carbs: 23 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
Oat bread made from oats and whole-grain flour boasts the fiber beta-glucan, which may help lower cholesterol and has been linked to a number of health benefits.
5. Flax Bread
Flax bread, which is made primarily from whole-grain flours and flax seeds, is one of the healthiest breads you can eat.
This is because flax seeds are highly nutritious and offer a number of health benefits. Particularly, they are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in plant foods (23).
A large review of 27 studies found that a high intake of dietary ALA was associated with a lower risk of heart disease (24).
What's more, flax seeds boast compounds called lignans that can act as antioxidants in your body and may help protect against certain cancers (25).
In fact, one study in 6,000 postmenopausal women suggested that those who regularly ate flax seeds had an 18% lower chance of developing breast cancer compared to those who did not eat them (26).
Interestingly, those who ate flax bread were 23% less likely to get breast cancer than those who didn't eat it (26).
However, it's important to note that this study was observational. More research is needed to understand the connection between flax seeds and cancer risk.
Nevertheless, eating flax bread and other foods with flax seeds may have additional benefits, such as improved digestive health (27).
Be sure to look for flax breads made with minimal ingredients, such as whole-wheat and/or sprouted whole-grain flours, yeast, water, salt, and flax seeds.
One slice (34 grams) of Ezekiel Sprouted Whole-Grain Flax Bread contains (28):
- Calories: 80
- Protein: 5 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Carbs: 14 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
Flax bread contains plant-based omega-3 fatty acids that promote good heart health, as well as compounds called lignans that may help protect against certain cancers.
6. 100% Sprouted Rye Bread
Rye closely resembles wheat but is usually darker and denser.
Traditional rye bread is only made from rye flour and does not contain any wheat flour, whereas most modern rye breads are made from a combination of the two. Rye loaves also typically have caraway seeds baked into them.
One study in 12 healthy adults found that those who ate whole-grain rye bread released significantly less insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar, than those who ate white-wheat bread (30).
Rye's ability to lower your body's insulin response is likely due to its high soluble fiber content.
Soluble fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate that dissolves in water and becomes gel-like in your gut. Eating foods with soluble fiber helps slow your digestion of carbs, which decreases insulin release and reduces blood sugar spikes (33, 34, 35).
The healthiest rye breads are made from 100% whole-grain sprouted rye flour, in addition to other sprouted grain flours. Since sprouting increases grains' fiber content, sprouted rye is higher in fiber and healthier than non-sprouted rye (36, 37).
One slice (28 grams) of sprouted rye bread provides (38):
- Calories: 60
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Carbs: 12 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
Sprouted rye bread is high in soluble fiber, which helps slow your digestion of carbs and decrease your body's insulin response.
7. Healthy Gluten-Free Bread
Gluten-free breads are made without glutenous grains like wheat, rye, or barley.
They are safe options for people who need to avoid gluten, such as those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
While the exact ingredients in gluten-free loaves depend on the type, they are typically made from a mix of gluten-free flours, such as brown rice, almond, coconut, tapioca, potato, or corn flours.
Many people wrongly assume that gluten-free breads are healthier than those that contain gluten. However, most gluten-free varieties are made from refined flours and high in added sugars, as well as other unnecessary additives.
However, those made from almond or coconut flours, such as Barely Bread, tend to be lower in carbs and calories but higher in fiber and protein than loaves made from wheat or other grains (39).
The higher fiber and protein content in these products may help fill you up more than other breads while packing fewer calories and less starch (40).
One slice (36 grams) of Barely Bread 100% Grain-Free bread gives you (39):
- Calories: 90
- Protein: 3 grams
- Fat: 5 grams
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Fiber: 5 grams
Some gluten-free breads harbor refined flours that are high in starch and unhealthy sweeteners, so be sure to choose ones that have healthier ingredients, fewer carbs, and more fiber.
How to Choose a Healthy Bread
To choose a healthy bread, look for brands that have:
- 100% whole-grain or sprouted flours listed as the first ingredient, with limited other ingredients
- 3–5 grams of fiber and 3–6 grams of protein per slice
- No added sweeteners
One of the best ways to ensure that you're choosing a healthy bread is to make it yourself. This way, you can control the ingredients. Hundreds of recipes for homemade breads are available online to suit most every dietary need.
Keep in mind that while the breads on this list are healthier than other varieties, bread is generally not as nutritious as other whole foods.
Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds, as well as whole grains that have not been milled into flour, typically pack more fiber and beneficial nutrients than bread.
What's more, many breads are made with added sugars and vegetable oils high in omega-6 fats, such as soybean oil. Excess intake of these ingredients has been linked to chronic inflammation that may lead to illnesses, including heart disease (40, 41).
In addition, some people may need to reduce their carb intake and thus limit bread consumption, such as those with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, as well as anyone on a low-carb diet (42).
That said, bread can be enjoyed in moderation — as part of a balanced diet that includes a variety of other nutritious foods.
When choosing a healthy bread, look for ones with 100% whole-grain or sprouted flour and without added sugars and vegetable oils.
The Bottom Line
Some breads are healthier than others.
To choose a beneficial bread, look for varieties made from 100% whole-grain and/or sprouted-grain flours. Make sure your bread has no added sweeteners or vegetable oils.
A few good options include sourdough, rye, flax, and oat breads.
Whichever you choose, remember to eat bread in moderation as part of a balanced diet, alongside a variety of nutritious whole foods.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Tom Duszynski
The coronavirus is certainly scary, but despite the constant reporting on total cases and a climbing death toll, the reality is that the vast majority of people who come down with COVID-19 survive it. Just as the number of cases grows, so does another number: those who have recovered.
In mid-March, the number of patients in the U.S. who had officially recovered from the virus was close to zero. That number is now in the tens of thousands and is climbing every day. But recovering from COVID-19 is more complicated than simply feeling better. Recovery involves biology, epidemiology and a little bit of bureaucracy too.
How does your body fight off COVID-19?<p>Once a person is exposed the coronavirus, the body starts producing <a href="https://www.mblintl.com/products/what-are-antibodies-mbli/" target="_blank">proteins called antibodies to fight the infection</a>. As these <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/27/serological-tests-reveal-immune-coronavirus/" target="_blank">antibodies start to successfully contain the virus</a> and keep it from replicating in the body, symptoms usually begin to lessen and you start to feel better. Eventually, if all goes well, your immune system will completely destroy all of the virus in your system. A person who was infected with and survived a virus with no long-term health effects or disabilities has "recovered."</p><p>On average, a person who is infected with SARS-CoV-2 will feel ill for about seven days from the onset of symptoms. Even after symptoms disappear, there still may be small amounts of the virus in a patient's system, and they should stay <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html" target="_blank">isolated for an additional three days</a> to ensure they have truly <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">recovered and are no longer infectious</a>.</p>
What about immunity?<p>In general, once you have recovered from a viral infection, your body will keep cells called lymphocytes in your system. These cells "remember" viruses they've previously seen and can react quickly to fight them off again. If you are exposed to a virus you have already had, your antibodies will likely stop the virus before it starts causing symptoms. <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.5114%2Fceji.2018.77390" target="_blank">You become immune</a>. This is the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27158/" target="_blank">principle behind many vaccines</a>.</p><p>Unfortunately, immunity isn't perfect. For many viruses, like mumps, immunity can wane over time, leaving you <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160421145747.htm" target="_blank">susceptible to the virus in the future</a>. This is why you need to get revaccinated – those "booster shots" – occasionally: to prompt your immune system to make more antibodies and memory cells.</p><p>Since this coronavirus is so new, scientists still don't know whether people who recover from COVID-19 are <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/faq.html" target="_blank">immune to future infections of the virus</a>. Doctors are finding antibodies in ill and recovered patients, and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-guidance-management-patients.html" target="_blank">that indicates the development of immunity</a>. But the question remains how long that immunity will last. Other coronaviruses like <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.25685" target="_blank">SARS and MERS produce an immune response</a> that will protect a person at least for a short time. I would suspect the same is true of SARS-CoV-2, but the research simply hasn't been done yet to say so definitively.</p>
Why have so few people officially recovered in the US?<p>This is a dangerous virus, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is being extremely careful when deciding what it means to recover from COVID-19. Both medical and testing criteria must be met before a person is <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html" target="_blank">officially declared recovered</a>.</p><p>Medically, a person must be fever-free without fever-reducing medications for three consecutive days. They must show an improvement in their other symptoms, including reduced coughing and shortness of breath. And it must be at least seven full days <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">since the symptoms began</a>.</p><p>In addition to those requirements, the CDC guidelines say that a person must test negative for the coronavirus twice, with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html" target="_blank">tests taken at least 24 hours apart</a>.</p><p>Only then, if both the symptom and testing conditions are met, is a person officially considered recovered by the CDC.</p><p>This second testing requirement is likely why there were so few official recovered cases in the U.S. until late March. Initially, there was a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/health/coronavirus-test-shortages-face-masks-swabs.html" target="_blank">massive shortage of testing in the U.S.</a> So while many people were certainly recovering over the last few weeks, this could not be officially confirmed. As the country enters the height of the pandemic in the coming weeks, focus is still on <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html" target="_blank">testing those who are infected</a>, not those who have likely recovered.</p><p>Many more people are being tested now that states and private companies have begun <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/testing-in-us.html" target="_blank">producing and distributing tests</a>. As <a href="https://www.dispatch.com/news/20200406/coronavirus-in-ohio-from-its-rocky-start-testing-for-covid-19-slowly-ramping-up" target="_blank">the number of available tests increases</a> and the pandemic eventually slows in the country, more testing will be available for those who have appeared to recover. As people who have already recovered are tested, the appearance of any new infections will help researchers learn <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/24/we-need-smart-coronavirus-testing-not-just-more-testing/" target="_blank">how long immunity can be expected to last</a>.</p>
Once a person has recovered, what can they do?<p>Knowing whether or not people are immune to COVID-19 after they recover is going to determine what individuals, communities and society at large can do going forward. If scientists can show that recovered patients are immune to the coronavirus, then a person who has recovered could in theory <a href="https://www.vox.com/2020/3/30/21186822/immunity-to-covid-19-test-coronavirus-rt-pcr-antibody" target="_blank">help support the health care system</a> by caring for those who are infected.</p><p>Once communities pass the peak of the epidemic, the number of new infections will decline, while the number of <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/china-says-passed-peak-coronavirus-epidemic-covid-19-1491863" target="_blank">recovered people will increase</a>. As these trends continue, the risk of transmission will fall. Once the risk of transmission has fallen enough, community-level isolation and social distancing orders will begin to relax and businesses will start to reopen. Based on what other countries have gone through, it will be <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00154-w" target="_blank">months until the risk of transmission is low</a> in the U.S.</p><p>But before any of this can happen, the U.S. and the world need to make it through the peak of this pandemic. Social distancing works to slow the spread of infectious diseases and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/what-you-can-do.html" target="_blank">is working for COVID-19</a>. Many people will <a href="https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/2019-novel-coronavirus/" target="_blank">need medical help to recover</a>, and social distancing will slow this virus down and give people the best chance to do so.</p>
By Elizabeth Claire Alberts
The future for the world's oceans often looks grim. Fisheries are set to collapse by 2048, according to one study, and 8 million tons of plastic pollute the ocean every year, causing considerable damage to delicate marine ecosystems. Yet a new study in Nature offers an alternative, and more optimistic view on the ocean's future: it asserts that the entire marine environment could be substantially rebuilt by 2050, if humanity is able to step up to the challenge.
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By Zulfikar Abbany
Bread has been a source of basic nutrition for centuries, the holy trinity being wheat, maize and rice. It has also been the reason for a lot of innovation in science and technology, from millstones to microbiological investigations into a family of single-cell fungi called Saccharomyces.
Chemical leavening<p>If you like a little heft in your loaf, you will need a leavening agent.</p><p>For those short on time, you can use baking soda. That's a chemical compound of sodium bicarbonate mixed with potassium bitartrate, or cream of tartar.</p><p>Soda breads have their traditions in parts of eastern and central Europe, and in Ireland and Scotland, with Melrose loaves and "farls."</p><p>They can taste a bit bland, though, and are often considered only as an emergency solution on Sundays. No disrespect intended: They taste just fine fresh from the oven.</p><p>Whether it's chemical or more "natural," leavening relies largely on the production of carbon dioxide.</p><p>When you mix an acid, such as vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt or apple cider, with an alkaline compound like baking soda, you get CO2. That CO2 creates bubbles, which in turn capture steam in the oven and allow a bread to rise.</p><p><span></span>But it's better with yeast. Tastes better, too. It just takes more time. </p>
What is yeast?<p>There are yeasts all around us — on grains, in the air, in biofuels. It even lives inside us, but that's not always a good thing.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1090575/pdf/1471-2334-5-22.pdf" target="_blank">Candida yeast</a> can cause infections of the skin, feet, mouth, penis or vagina if it builds up too much in the body.</p><p>One of the most common yeasts, however, is <em>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</em>. That's <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/an-early-beer-archaeologists-tap-ground-at-worlds-oldest-brewery/a-45480731" target="_blank">"brewer's"</a> or "baker's" yeast.</p><p>You can get fresh baker's yeast, often in 42-gram (1.48-ounce) cubes, or as dried yeast (quick action or active, which requires rehydration) in a sachet of 7 grams.</p><p>There's little difference: One is compressed and the other is dehydrated and granulated. But they do the same thing, essentially. </p><p>Some commercial yeast producers add molasses and other nutrients. But natural yeast has plenty of useful nutrients in it anyway, including B group vitamins, so who knows whether it's good or necessary to add them. </p>
How does yeast work?<p>When you mix flour, yeast and water, you set off a veritable chain reaction. Enzymes in the wheat convert starch into sugar. And the yeast creates enzymes of its own to convert those sugars into a form it can absorb.</p><p>The yeast "feeds" on the sugars to create carbon dioxide and alcohol. The yeast burps and farts, releasing gases into the mix, and that creates bubbles to trap CO2. </p><p>It's a vital fermentation process that breaks down the gluten in the flour and helps make your bread more digestible.</p><p>The yeast cells split and reproduce, generating lactic and carbonic acid, raising the temperature and ultimately adding flavor to the mix.</p><p>The longer you leave the yeast to do its thing, the better for your bread. Time is more important than the amount of yeast. </p><p>In fact, that's an enduring question — how much yeast? I'll use 20 grams fresh yeast for 500 grams of flour. Others say that's enough yeast for 1 kilo. If you are converting a dry-yeast recipe to fresh yeast, some bakers advise tripling the weight. So, if a sachet of dried yeast is 7 grams, your fresh yeast is 21 grams.</p><p><span></span>But that also depends on the flours you are using, temperatures in the bowl and the room, and a host of other things. You'll just have to experiment and see. No number of books (and I've read a stack on bread) will help as much as trial and error.</p>
Wild yeast: Sourdough<p>So, good bread needs time. If you have a lot of time, why not move it up a notch and grow wild yeast — a sourdough starter — in your own home?</p><p>A sourdough starter is not to be mistaken (as it often is) for the leaven, or "mother," "sponge," or <em>levain</em>. That's more a second stage, a descendant of the starter. You take a scoop from your starter and add it to another flour and water mixture when you prepare the dough for a new loaf. </p><p>The sourdough process utilizes yeasts naturally present in flour and … yet more time. A longer fermentation process allows a richer lactic acid bacteria <em>lactobacilli</em> or LAB to evolve, and that can be healthy for your gut microbiome.</p><p>It's simple enough to start a sourdough starter. All you need is flour, warm water and time.</p><p>Some suggest equal measures of whole-grain flour and water at 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), some say room temperature — just don't let the water exceed 40 C or the yeasts will die. Some suggest two parts flour to three parts water. But it's up to you whether you want a drier or wetter starter. You will know only through experimentation. </p><p>Some say you should filter tap water to remove chemicals like fluoride and avoid using water that's boiled and then cooled. Others say that really doesn't matter.</p><p>The main thing is, keep it clean and give it time. Days, weeks, months and years.</p>
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