The qualities of bread, the founding food of humanity and the base of a healthy diet

Bread is one of the most famous sources of carbohydrates for our body, but also proteins and fibres, thanks to its unbeatable nutritional balance, and it’s not all. Bread has fed the entire Mediterranean world throughout the civilizations, and its lack or abundance shaped their courses for better or worse. Just think that one of the oldest testimonies to its importance is the first epic poem in the history of humankind, the Epic of Gilgamesh. Here, bread is mentioned in numerous passages during the narration of the deeds of the hero-warrior in search of immortality.

Stoic protagonist of the Mediterranean diet, bread is witnessing a new rise in modern cuisine, thanks to the rediscovery of crafts and the return of ancient grains. A food invented by man, whose genuineness brings back to the simplicity and sustainability of the past is now enhanced.

Bread, tasty and delicious
In fact, what mainly constitutes its charm is its composition: very few ingredients that are rich in nutritional properties. Not only that: flour, water and yeast lay the foundations of the real art of baking, marked by an unrelenting passion in the precise and archaic gestures of the baker, as well by the empathy that conveys the creation of a basic product and anchored in tradition.

Dietary qualities and nutritional values

Criticized harshly a few years ago, bread has regained the favour of nutritionists and the public, who have realized its intrinsic qualities: often the danger does not come from this food, but from the ingredients that can be eaten with it, like spreads or complementary toppings. Bread alone is a dietary food, but with the addition of butter, cheese or sandwiches with meat, poultry and sauces, it becomes a rich food, if not even too rich and unbalanced.

Faced with the difficulty of distinguishing between the basic product and its improper use, many dieticians have preferred to ban bread rather than try to educate consumers.

Today, we can definitely say that bread is an excellent source of nutrients.

First of all, it is rich in complex carbohydrates and fibres, which make it easier to digest: its carbohydrate content provides an important source of energy for the proper functioning of the metabolism and the brain, and contributes adequately to the energy supply of an active life.

What is the role of complex carbohydrates?

We have all heard of the low-carb dietary models that provide for an extreme reduction in carbohydrates. The Mediterranean diet suggests a carbohydrate intake of between 55 and 65% of the daily caloric intake, and the extreme reduction of carbohydrates is not without negative effects on our body. Complex carbohydrates are macronutrients, consisting mainly of cereal starches.

The term "carbohydrates" includes all foods that contain mainly sugars but do not have a sweet taste. After being converted into glucose, carbohydrates can be used by cells to produce energy, they can be stored in the form of glycogen in the blood and muscles or transformed into fat if the glycogen reserves are saturated.

Massaging that dough hard
For example, the nervous system alone requires about 180 g of glucose per day to perform its functions optimally.

These sugars are considered as "slow" ones. It has been discovered that they slowly and continuously diffuse their energy in the body, unlike the rapid sugars found in sweets and in some hyper-energetic foods, which release immediate energy, though for a short period.

Here are the reasons why bread is a food perfectly suited to a balanced diet.

  • It has a low fat content: common bread contains only 1% fat, unsaturated fatty acids useful for the body, such as linoleic acid, which has a role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. NB: Fried and “improved” bread, as well as rusks, are often supplemented with fat.
  • The slow carbohydrate intake: in our diet, we must distinguish between fast-absorbing carbohydrates (sugar, honey and fruit) and slow-absorbing carbohydrates (mainly starch present in starchy foods and bread (55 g per 100 g). Slow carbohydrates provide a longer satiating effect, a benefit recently rediscovered by athletes who take large amounts before training or long efforts.
Bread is an amazing food for breakfast!
  • The role of fibres intake: bread contains dietary fibres that vary depending on the type of flour used: from 0.3% for white bread to more than 1.5% for the so-called wholemeal bread. These fibres, not assimilated by the body, favour the intestinal transit by evacuating the other substances and thus making part of the calories ingested ineffective.
  • High in vitamin content: it provides B vitamins and magnesium, phosphorus and iron, which promote growth and combat cellular aging (wholemeal bread contains 3 times more magnesium and Vitamin E than white bread).
Wholemeal bread contains the highest number of nutritional values
  • It provides “green” proteins: these are proteins of vegetable origin, low in fat, excellent for muscle tissue.
  • Easily digestible, ideal as a substitute for pasta during the lunch break, bread is also easy to combine with a wide variety of other foods: meat, fish, vegetables, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. It is also an excellent source of complex carbohydrates for breakfast: a slice of 50 g of common bread with jam or honey, a glass of milk and a portion of fruit, is a balanced and simple breakfast suitable for all ages.

In short, at any time of the day and with any type of "filling", bread is really a food that we hardly manage – or should - give up.

Bread, what a healthy food!

From haute cuisine to home cooking, the attention of consumers is increasingly focused on the health properties and origin of the ingredients chosen. In today’s culinary universe, we are being (fortunately) influenced by healthier lifestyle choices and more conscious dietary habits, which become a stimulus for research, creativity and innovation even for something as rudimentary as bread and its derivatives. Depending on the type of flour used, for example, bread is enriched or not with fibre, vitamins, minerals. The less "refined" the flour, the richer the bread is in these nutrients and the poorer the starch.
Breaking B(re)ad
In addition, the wide range of existing yeasts (natural, liquid, freeze-dried, etc.) allows you to make high quality bread around the world; in particular the natural yeast (consisting only of flour and water) is becoming more and more popular, thanks to its particularity of facilitating the digestion of whole grains.

As Italians grandparents like to say, nothing as good as bread

We can truly stand by this popular saying if we know what good and genuine bread looks like, how it is made and how we can eat it properly.

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