These loaves have loads of nu­tri­ents

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Matthew Kadey

Breads that rise above the rest

De­spite all the grain bash­ers out there, bread re­mains a di­etary sta­ple for many cy­cling en­thu­si­asts. Any way you slice it, bread is a con­ve­nient way to ob­tain those nec­es­sary car­bo­hy­drates to help power you through a full day in the sad­dle. In­deed, you don’t have to fear bread, so long as you choose the most nu­tri­ent-rich op­tions. But de­ceiv­ing pack­ag­ing can make the choice harder than it should be. Here’s how to crack the code and bag the best loaf. 100 per cent whole grain

To make sure your lunch ham and cheese de­liv­ers more of a nu­tri­tional bang, look for breads made with only whole grains, such as whole wheat flour or whole spelt flour, The germ and bran of the grain, which har­bours the lion’s share of the fi­bre and nu­tri­ents, are still present in the bread and of­fer up more health ben­e­fits. In con­trast, re­fined flour has been stripped of its nu­tri­tious germ and bran, leav­ing be­hind just the starchy en­dosperm that is re-for­ti­fied with a few es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents, but not all that have been lost. A re­cent study in the Euro­pean jour­nal of nu­tri­tion found that eat­ing whole-grain bread scan re­duce the in­ter­nal in­flam­ma­tion in the body linked to dis­eases such as cancer and heart dis­ease and maybe even poor ex­er­cise re­cov­ery. Squishy white bread? Not so much. Buyer be­ware Be leery of breads la­belled “multi-grain,” “seven-grain” or “made with whole grains,” which are of­ten just smoke and mir­rors. In many cases, they con­tain an in­gre­di­ent list that be­gins with “wheat flour” or “un­bleached flour,” both code for white flour. There are some whole grains in there, just not very much. Some bread is dark­ened with items like caramel colour­ing or mo­lasses to ap­pear more whole­some. In­stead, you want to see the word “whole” be­fore the very first flour listed in the in­gre­di­ents or “100 per cent whole wheat” on the front of the pack­age. “Stone-ground” is of­ten a good in­di­ca­tor that the grain ker­nel was left in­tact when ground. Ideally, each slice should con­tain at least 3 g of fi­bre and no more than 150 mg of sodium. If loaves from your lo­cal bak­ery don’t have in­gre­di­ent la­bels, you need to ask if they are made pre­dom­i­nantly with whole-grain flour. Also look for op­tions that are free of added sweet­en­ers to help keep your over­all su­gar in­take in check.


When it comes to bread, sour has power. Re­search from the Univer­sity of Guelph has shown that crusty and slightly tangy sour­dough bread causes less of a blood-su­gar spike af­ter eat­ing a slice or two than what oc­curs with other breads. Sour­dough be­gins with a bac­te­ria-rich starter, which fer­ments to pro­duce lac­tic acid that helps slow down di­ges­tion and blunt the blood su­gar re­sponse. The up­shot is that this bread can lessen su­gar highs and en­ergy crashes. What’s more, bac­te­rial fer­men­ta­tion de­creases the amount of gluten present, mak­ing sour­dough eas­ier to di­gest for some peo­ple. While much of the sour­dough on the mar­ket is made with white flour, look for even health­ier whole grain sour­dough breads at ar­ti­san bak­eries. Buyer be­ware Watch out for im­posters called “sour breads” be­cause they in­clude a sour flavour­ing agent like vine­gar. These don’t have the proven ben­e­fits of bac­te­ria-driven real sour­dough.


It’s time to take a cue from the Scan­di­na­vians and make rye bread the foun­da­tion of your sand­wiches more of­ten. Not only is rye flour ac­tu­ally more nu­tri­ent-dense than whole wheat flour, but a slice of hearty rye bread can have up to 5 g of fi­bre, mak­ing it ex­tra fill­ing. By pro­mot­ing sati­ety and bet­ter blood­sugar con­trol, di­ets rich in high-fi­bre foods like rye bread can make it eas­ier to achieve and main­tain race weight. To help pro­mote bet­ter ris­ing in the face of lower gluten lev­els, a large por­tion of rye bread made with whole-grain rye are also sour­dough mak­ing it even more of a healthy su­per­star. Buyer be­ware Sadly, most rye or pumper­nickel breads on store shelves are guilty of pre­sent­ing a false health halo since they are made mainly with unin­spir­ing wheat flour. Some may have just a few rye seeds tossed in for ef­fect. In­stead, look for one made with whole rye flour or whole rye meal as the main in­gre­di­ent. This is eas­ier ac­com­plished at brick and mor­tar bak­eries or Euro­pean spe­cialty stores. A rule of thumb is that the denser the bread, the more rye it likely con­tains.


You don’t re­ally need to worry about be­ing duped into buy­ing re­fined sprouted bread. Sprouted bread is, by ne­ces­sity, whole grain, as it’s not pos­si­ble to sprout pro­cessed flour. So it comes with all of the same nu­tri­tional ben­e­fits (more fi­bre, for ex­am­ple) as reg­u­lar whole-grain breads, but with a few other perks. When grains like wheat, oats and mil­let are ger­mi­nated, their pro­teins and starches are bro­ken down into forms that can be eas­ier di­gest. Sprout­ing may also am­plify lev­els of cer­tain nu­tri­ents like B vi­ta­mins and also lower the glycemic in­dex of each slice, which means a more sus­tained re­lease of car­bo­hy­drate en­ergy. Loaves may up the nu­tri­tional ante by in­cor­po­rat­ing other healthy items, such as nuts, seeds and even legumes. Buyer be­ware Most sprouted breads are made with­out preser­va­tives, so it’s best to store loaves in the re­frig­er­a­tor to keep them fresh. For this rea­son, you’ll of­ten find sprouted bread in cold stor­age at the su­per­mar­ket and nat­u­ral food stores. Sprouted bread tends to cost a cou­ple ex­tra dol­lars more than the mass-pro­duced stuff.


The up­swing in the num­ber of gluten-free breads avail­able is good news for those with celiac dis­ease or gluten in­tol­er­ance. Man­u­fac­tur­ers are in­creas­ingly mak­ing them health­ier by now in­cor­po­rat­ing more nu­tri­tious grains, such as quinoa, buck­wheat, brown rice and teff. Tastes and tex­tures are also con­tin­u­ally im­prov­ing; you don’t nec­es­sar­ily have to toast those slices to a crisp to make them palat­able any longer. Buyer be­ware Still, the dirty lit­tle se­cret of many gluten­free breads is that they are made mostly with nu­tri­ent-poor items like white rice flour, tapi­oca starch and potato starch. If you’re es­chew­ing reg­u­lar whole wheat bread for gluten-free bread with­out a med­i­cal need, you could end up un­know­ingly down­grad­ing your diet. Again, be an in­gre­di­ent sleuth and seek out brands that favour gluten-free whole grains in­stead of nu­tri­tion­ally lack­ing pro­cessed starches.

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