Health Trends

Bread by Crumbichrist: Simple Facts About Bread

What are some bread ingredients, and what do they do?

For anyone who makes or buys sandwiches, bread is an important part of the experience.  Unless if you are one of the restaurants that makes a meat sandwich by having a slab of meat between two more pieces of fried meat.  But let’s not fuck our arteries up right now and stick with the carbohydrate-rich kinds of bread.

Bread is sort of a general term for a variety of grain based foods.  Some are meant to be part of a meal (such as cornbread), some are meant to be a dessert (banana bread), and others are meant for celebration.  Bread typically contains a grain or flour of some sort, water, sugar, and some sort of leavening agent.  Some breads, however, like flat bread, do not use a leavening agent, so they are not as spongy as the leavened variety.

The grain or flour is sort of the “structure” of the bread.  Breads that use wheat, rye, or barley contain gluten, a protein that can cause an immune response in the intestines of those with Celiac disease.  However, for those without Celiac disease, gluten is fine.  There has been no real conclusive evidence that gluten causes harm.

Sugar typically is there to flavor the bread, but also can act as a source of fuel for the leavening agents, which make bubbles in the bread.  Baking soda and powder make small bubbles in the bread, whereas yeast makes much bigger bubbles as it ferments carbohydrates.  Some recipes also use things like beer to leaven the bread.

Water makes the mixture goopy, and activates the gluten.  Kneading the bread dough helps to form strands of gluten, which can make the bread too tough if over kneaded.

As for the difference in the super market aisle, there is a large variety of bread that can serve the same purpose.  The main difference between whole grain, multi grain, and white breads (typically of the wheat variety) is as follows.  Whole grain uses all of the wheat kernel, which adds more nutritional benefit.  White bread only uses the endosperm of the kernel.  In doing so, the flour is more shelf stable, but also lacks nutrients, especially if it has been bleached or processed.  Enriched white bread simply means that after this process, nutrients are added back during baking.  Multi grain only means that there are different kinds of grains in the bread, and they can either be a whole grain, or white flour bread.

So what kinds of bread do you eat?  Anyone have any recipes or stories about bread they would like to share?

By The Nutrition Punk

I am a dietitian living in Portland, Oregon. I write about a variety of nutrition and heath topics, with the goal of improving people's understanding of food and nutrition so they may be empowered against all the misinformation that is out there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.