Thinking about making homemade bread? Here's 10 reasons why you should!Ah bread, it’s one of the most versatile pantry staples out there. Freshly made? You can’t beat a loaded sandwich. Toasted? Top with beans for a nutritionally dense meal. Going slightly stale? Add it to salads or soup to bring it back to life. So, why then does bread have such a bad reputation? To help us understand the true benefits inside our bread, Registered Dietitian, Juliette Kellow, has shared advice and nutritional facts that might change your mind about it! 1. It’s the perfect fit for a plant-based diet We’re hearing more and more about how plant-based diets are better for both our bodies and the planet. A recent report from the Lancet suggested that promoting a healthier, mainly plant-based, diet will help to prevent around 11 million premature deaths each year, and protect the environment¹. The ideal diet recommended in the report includes adding considerably more wholegrains such as wheat, to our diet. Wholemeal bread, made from wholemeal wheat flour, is, therefore, a great choice to include in a plant-based diet. Providing the bread doesn’t contain any added animal ingredients such as butter, milk, eggs, cheese or honey, it’s also suitable for vegan diets. 2. Homemade bread uses less plastic packaging Most shop-bought bread comes in a plastic bag and this is potentially bad news for the environment as many recycling centres don’t have facilities to accept them. While the ingredients you use to make your own bread still comes with packaging, the main component – flour – comes in a recyclable paper bag. 3. It’s not the sugar horror we’ve been led to believe In recent years, bread has been highlighted as a food that contains a lot of added sugar. Sweeter breads such as brioche certainly contain more than a standard loaf, and some artisan loaves can be brushed with honey. But most standard loaves contain very little sugar – around 1-2g per slice equal to a ¼-½ teaspoon. That’s a small amount when compared with health guidelines in the UK, which recommend we have a daily maximum of 30g free sugars (the type of sugar that’s typically added to food, as well as honey, syrups and fruit juices)². It’s the obvious sweet foods such as chocolate, sugary drinks, cakes, biscuits and puddings that contribute most of the sugar in our diet. In fact, bread provides less than 3% of the added sugars in adult diets. Confectionery, on the other hand, is responsible for a massive 28%³.
4. It’s low in fat
Most bread is low in fat – it’s the butter or spread we add to it that boosts fat intake. Health guidelines in the UK recommend we have no more than 70g total fat and 20g saturated fat in our diet each day. A slice of bread contains around 1g fat and around 0.2g saturates, so contributes very little to this.5. It can be a great fibre provider Wholemeal varieties of bread really help to boost our intake of fibre, which we need for a healthy digestive system and to prevent constipation. Good intakes of fibre are also linked with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. Eating plenty of fibre-rich foods helps to fill us up, too, so we feel less hungry which can help us better manage our weight. Most of us fail to get enough fibre in our diet though, having an average of 18g a day, when in fact, health guidelines recommend almost twice this amount – we should be aiming to reach 30g a day! Just one slice of wholemeal bread provides almost a tenth of our daily needs for fibre. 6. Baking at home can reduce food wastage Food wastage has become a huge talking point recently, particularly given that the UK throws away 5 million tonnes of edible food each year (enough to fill 40 million wheelie bins or 100 Albert Halls). Each day in the UK, 20 million slices of bread are thrown away, with the average household throwing away a whole loaf of bread each month. Bread is one of the largest food groups to be thrown away, despite the waste often being unavoidable. Baking your own loaves means you can create exactly the amount you desire, without needing to waste a single slice. 7. It can boost calcium Most of us instantly think of dairy products when it comes to calcium-rich foods. Indeed, milk, yoghurt and cheese are the main providers of this nutrient, which is needed for strong bones and teeth. However, white flour is fortified with calcium with the result that around a tenth of the calcium in our diets comes from white bread³. In fact, just one slice of white bread provides 8% of our daily needs for calcium. Meanwhile, even though wholemeal flour isn’t fortified with this nutrient, one slice of wholemeal bread still provides 5% of our daily calcium needs. 8. It provides iron Red meat is one of the main sources of iron in our diets. But, as we are encouraged to move towards a more plant-based diet, it’s important to make sure we get enough iron in our diet from non-meat foods. It’s good news, then, that white flour is fortified with iron. This makes bread an important source of iron, especially for teenage girls and young women, many of whom have very low intakes and so are at risk of a potential deficiency³. In fact, a massive 54% of 11-18-year-old girls have iron intakes that are exceptionally low³. One slice of white bread contributes around 4% of our daily needs for iron, while one slice of wholemeal bread contributes 7% of our daily needs (wholemeal flour isn’t fortified with iron but it’s naturally richer in this nutrient). 9. It provides a range of B vitamins Most varieties of bread provide thiamin (vitamin B1) and niacin (vitamin B3). These are both important for releasing energy from food and helping to keep the nervous system functioning well. Thiamin is also vital for the heart to function normally, while niacin helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue. One slice of white bread provides just under a tenth of our daily needs for each of these nutrients. One slice of wholemeal bread provides 9% of our daily needs for thiamin and 16% for niacin. 10. It’s a main contributor of salt in our diet Bread manufacturers have worked hard to reduce the salt content of bread over the years and have certainly achieved this. Nevertheless, bread remains the main provider of salt in the food we eat³, with a typical slice containing around 0.4g salt! One solution is to bake your own bread, giving you control over how much you add to the dough. While making bread can be fun – it’s a great thing to do with children – if you plan to bake your own loaves regularly, then investing in a breadmaking machine is a great option. All you have to do is add ingredients to the pan, switch on the machine then let it do all the mixing, kneading, proving and cooking. The result: a perfect, homemade loaf, cake or pasta dough a short while later! Panasonic is supporting Love Food Hate Waste to help encourage people to reduce food waste by creating fresh meals using leftover food. For more inspiration visit www.theideaskitchen.co.uk. References 1 Willett, W et al (2019) Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The Lancet 393 (10170), 447-492. 2 Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (2015) Carbohydrates and Health. 3 PHE/FSA (2018) National Diet and Nutrition Survey. Results from Years 7 and 8 (combined) of the Rolling Programme (2014/2015-2015/2016).