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  • A slice of life

     

     
    Cutting out carbs will not lead to long-term weight loss

    TRYING to lose weight by giving up your daily bread? You could be losing out on a whole lot of nutrition if you do.

    The anti-carb brigade has carved bread up a bit lately, but people who shun a slice are missing out on essential nutrients in a delicious and simple form.

    Bread is a perfectly packaged source of protein, fibre and complex carbohydrates, and is still one of the simplest lunch options around. Let's face it; the options for fillings you can use are virtually limitless.

    "Bread's a great source of nutrients because the grains themselves contain a lot of nutrients," says dietitian Alison Miles.

    Miles says that for optimum health we need to make sure we eat a wide range of foods from all the food groups, and plenty of research is stacking up to say that weneed to include more wholegrains.

    Wholegrain foods can help rev up carbohydrate metabolism, and somestudies say that including wholegrainfoods in your diet can help reduce yourrisk of developing lifestyle-related diseases.

    Trish Griffiths, a dietitian with Go Grains (www.gograins.grdc.com.au), a website that provides information about the nutritional benefits of grains, is understandably excited by all the research highlighting the health benefits of wholegrains.

    "Big international studies have shown that people who eat wholegrains regularly have a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes."

    Griffiths adds that including two to three serves of wholegrain foods a day can have as positive an impact on your heart health as statin drugs, which are prescribed by doctors to help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of stroke.

    "By including one to two serves of wholegrain foods per day, you can have a 20 to 40 percent lower chance of developing heart disease and stroke," she says.

    Australian healthy eating guidelines suggest that we should be eating four serves of breads or cereals a day and that around half of those should be wholegrain.

    But what about the oft-heard mantra that to lose weight you have to ditch the bread?

    "It's a myth," says Griffiths. "Bread is no more fattening than any other food and studies have shown that people who eat wholegrains have better long-term weight loss management."

    Miles says that wholegrains can lower the GI of a food, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer.

    She suggests looking at what you're eating and seeing if there's a wholegrain alternative, such as wholegrain bread instead of white.

    Bread's come a long way over the years. Only a few years ago white bread consumed 75 per cent of the market, but now that other varieties are filling trolleys, white bread's share is around 50 per cent.

    "Bread is a part of everyday good nutrition," says Peter McKinney, marketing manager of George Weston Foods. "It's flexible, can be eaten by virtually all ages and at all meals."

    Bagel

    Made in the traditional manner a bagelis boiled and has no oils, cholesterol, preservatives or fats. What it does haveis vitamin A and complex B vitamins.

    Wholemeal

    Ditch the myths; in Australia, wholemeal bread doesn't get that hue from food dyes, but is brown because of the ground-up wholegrains it contains.

    Wholemeal bread is a good source of vitamins B and E, iron, zinc and minerals such as selenium, copper and potassium.

    Multigrain

    Because of the abundance of grains in each slice, this bread is high in fibre and has a low-GI rating to help you feel fuller longer.

    Multigrain bread made from refined white flour with added grains is often more appealing to those whose palates prefer white bread.

    White

    Don't dismiss white bread, as many varieties are extremely good for you. There are plenty with added iron, calcium and even omega-3 fatty acids.

    If white bread contains soy flour it can also be high in protein. Check out the high-fibre varieties if you want to increase your fibre intake but don't like brown bread.

    Sourdough

    This option isn't just fashionable; it's a good alternative if you wish to avoid chemical food additives.

    Because the sourdough is naturally leavened, the bread has a tangy taste that can really tickle the tastebuds.

    Fruit

    Breads with added fruits can be delicious and healthy, but watch the vegetable oil content, because that can up the fat content as much as 18 per cent.

    Look for brands containing protein-rich nuts and driedfruit such as figs and dates, which increase the fibre content. Wholemeal varieties are also available.

    Gluten-free

    If you're gluten-intolerant there are still lots of bread options.

    These breads don't contain gluten, the elastic protein in wheat and rye, but use alternative flours such as barley and rice.

    Soy and Linseed

    The combination of soy and linseed is dynamic, as soyand linseed contain phytoestrogens plant chemicals that resemble the hormone oestrogen, and which someclaim is particularly beneficialto women's health.

    Turkish

    This tasty variety is low in fat and some varieties are fortified with calcium, or topped with poppy or sesame seeds, which boost the mineral and vitamin content.

    Pita

    If you're looking for a way to jazz up the daily lunchbox, pita breads are the way to go.

    Use them as a flatbread rolled up, or split and stuffed like a pocket. The wholemeal varieties also make a great low-fat pizza base.

    Rye

    With varieties ranging from light rye to the more heavy pumpernickel, rye bread is a delicious alternative.

    Look for new varieties such as Noble Rise Rye & Spelt bread which contains a whopping 24g of wholegrains per serve.

    Sunflower bread

    Sunflower seeds pack a powerful nutritional punch with plenty of vitamins and minerals.

    Not only are they high in vitamin E, they also contain B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

    Poppy seed

    Poppy seeds are high in B-complex vitamins, essential fatty acids, zinc and calcium.

    Olive

    There's nothing like a chewy slice of ciabatta studded with olives; it tastes divine and best of all, olives are a powerhouse of goodness.

    They're great for the skin, circulation and the heart and are a good source of vitamin E and are a powerful antioxidant.

    Sesame seed

    These little seeds contain a surprising amount of iron, but also add a healthy dose of protein, calcium and magnesium to a slice of bread.

    They're also rich in niacinand folate, two essential B vitamins.


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