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Your Daily Bread

Sandra Prior
Aug 8, 2008
A trip down the bread aisle is akin to choosing which supermodel you'd like to take to bed. They all have something special but how do you know which one's the best?

Low GI. Heart Healthy. With added omega-3s, selenium or inulin pre-biotic fiber. These days a quick trip to the shops for bread and milk can turn into a three hour decision making exercise. There are so many different types of bread, each offering you the opportunity to obtain better health than the next. How do you choose? We help you make the most sensible choice for your next cheese and tomato sandwich.

The Low Down on Fortified Bread

In recent years, the nutrition savvy man has come to know that whole-wheat bread is better than brown bread, and brown bread is better than white bread, primarily because each type of bread has more fiber than the other. There are brands of bread that claim to offer as much fiber as whole-wheat bread, with all the taste of white bread. There are also breads bolstered with bird feed, fatty acids and other minerals that claim to do everything from stabilizing blood sugar to protecting against heart disease. It's enough to make you want to eat salad instead. But what if you're really hungry for a sarmie? Here's what you need to know about what's on the shelves to make your triple-decker sandwich dreams come true.

White, Brown or Whole-Wheat?

No matter what the advertising says, whole-wheat bread is still the best option. The white bread that says it has just as much fiber as brown bread is failing to make clear the distinction between the different types of fiber. There are two main types of dietary fiber - soluble and insoluble. The problem is, the white bread in question only contains added soluble fiber, but you need both because they serve different functions in the body.

Soluble fiber works primarily on a chemical basis, absorbing water in the gut to form a mushy, gel like consistency (much like grated apple) that maintains blood glucose levels and bonds with cholesterol in the intestine, so encouraging the fats to pass through your body rather than be absorbed into the blood stream.

Insoluble fiber works on a more mechanical level. Insoluble fiber consists of the indigestible bits - seed flakes, digestive bran and so on - that help to draw water into the intestine and literally act as an internal scourer, gently pushing food through to make sure your guts don't get blocked up. Insoluble fiber is the stuff that keeps you a regular, happy guy.

That's why whole-wheat remains the king of these breads. It has both soluble fiber, which comes from the wheat flour, and insoluble fiber, in the form of added wheat kernels. These kernels are what gives whole-wheat bread its rough looking texture.

The Fiber Debate

There are other types of functional fiber, too. Starch resistant fiber is also an insoluble fiber, with the added benefit of lowering the PH in the large intestine. These fibers break down to produce short-chain fatty acids, which act as food for pro-biotics, the good bacteria that keep your colon fighting fit. Inulin pre-biotic fiber also acts as food for these friendly microscopic bugs.

When it comes to the fiber in your bread, more is always better. The more fiber you have, and the more fiber you can count, the more healthy that bread is for you.
About the Author
Sandra Prior runs her own bodybuilding website at http://bodybuild.rr.nu.
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