(CNN) — One of the foods that many people hate to love is bread.
Its flavor is delicious, but we are often faced with the idea that, nutritionally speaking, it is bad.
There are entire meal plans dedicated to cutting out bread and other carbohydrates and highlighting the people who eat them, said Natalie Mokari, a nutritionist in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“Many of my clients believe that they should not eat bread, which I find sad because bread is a great source of whole grains“, he claimed.
Yes, as you read it: bread can be part of a balanced diet and carbohydrates are crucial for health, he said.
In fact, it might be a good idea. eat two to three servings of whole grains dailywhich can be found in bread, as they can prevent type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, as well as colorectal, pancreatic and gastric cancer, according to a 2017 study.
“We need carbohydrates to function,” Mokari said. “Carbohydrates are brain food. If you look, when you’re not eating carbs, you feel very lethargic, you might feel confused, you just don’t have as much energy.”
If you’re looking for the healthiest bread, there are many factors to consider, including the type of bread, what you pair it with, and how balanced your relationship with it is, Mokari says.
Bran, white and sourdough
Is one type of bread more nutritious than another? It depends on what you are looking for.
“It’s important to define your health goals,” said Steph Grasso, a nutritionist and TikTok creator based in Washington, DC. “What does it mean to be healthy?”
Whole-grain breads with bran offer more vitamins, whole grains and fiber and have less of an impact on blood sugar, which may be beneficial for people with insulin resistance, Mokari said.
But some people have a strong penchant for white bread, and to them, Mokari tells them to enjoy it.
“If you analyze them and put their labels [nutricionales] side by side, they are not that different,” he said.
For those who have concerns about digestive health or want to enjoy the taste of white bread, but avoid the high level of refining, the nutritionist suggests trying sourdough bread.
Sourdough bread is fermented, a process that can help your gut microbiota, and if it’s truly slow-rised sourdough, you might be able to digest gluten more easily.
Beyond the type of bread, Mokari recommends looking at its preparation. Look for simple ingredients, such as flour, water, salt and yeast, he said, especially since it’s easy to sneak higher levels of sugar and sodium into bread products.
If you’re looking for more fiber, whole grains are the best option, says Grasso. To avoid misleading labels, he checks the ingredient list: The first word should be “whole” if it’s really whole grain bread, he added.
For a little more fiber, look for bread with seeds in the crust, Grasso said.
And if possible, shopping at local bakeries can help you find good-quality, fresh bread with simple ingredients, she advised.
What about diet or low carb breads? Mokari is not a supporter of them. They tend to have more added and unnecessary ingredients to enhance their flavor, she says.
“But I respect people’s wishes if they really believe that a low-carb bread is best for them,” he said.
Accompany it with something healthy
Bread is rarely eaten on its own, so it’s important to think about the nutritional value of the whole meal.
If you’re concerned about your blood sugar, bread can be part of a balanced meal by adding healthy fats and protein, Mokari explains.
Carbohydrates, like those in bread, can give you a quick energy boost that subsides if eaten on their own, but adding protein and fat helps keep the momentum going, Grasso said.
“Whether it’s whole wheat bread or white bread, I encourage them to always pair it with a protein and a fat,” Mokari added.
For example, if you’re making breakfast, try pairing toast with eggs, avocado or peanut butter, he added.
For lunch, sandwiches don’t get enough attention for their ability to combine protein, vegetables, healthy fats and carbohydrates, Grasso said. And if you have a big protein salad for dinner, you always make sure you have carbs like a piece of bread to go with it.
“It’s all about balance,” says Grasso. “At the end of the day it’s going to give you energy, it’s going to make you feel good.”
Be your best ally
Knowing what works for you is even more important than finding the best brand, Grasso said.
Bread prices can vary widely, but you can find something that will feed you just as well no matter what your budget is, he said.
“Expensive doesn’t mean it’s always the best,” Grasso said.
And if you like bread, eat it how you like it, because cutting back too much on the foods you like can backfire, and it’s not a very happy way to live, he said.
“Like anything else, the more you restrict yourself, the more you want, so keep that in mind,” says Mokari.
There may be some anxiety around high-carbohydrate foods, such as bread, because diet culture has led many people to think that they make them gain weight, Grasso said. But carbohydrates serve an important function, and without them you can end up feeling lethargic and irritable, he added.
“You have to take that stigma off bread and those other carbohydrate foods that have been demonized and include them as part of a balanced diet,” Mokari said.
“You have to treat the body with kindness,” Grasso said. “It’s healthier to have a non-restrictive mindset and balance it throughout the day.”
Source: CNN Espanol