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What's in a label? Making sense of non-sense.

Posted Apr 07 2010 7:37pm

Reader’s question: “I love bread, but I know that I should really keep my intake to a minimum. I switched to Silverhills bread a long time ago. They say “Bread Made Without Flour” and made with "sprouted organic grain" instead. Am I any better off eating this? Is it healthier, can I eat more of it?”

Ingredients: Organic whole sprouted wheat*, water, organic evaporated cane juice*, vital wheat gluten, organic oat flake topping*, organic flax seeds*, yeast, sea salt, organic sunflower seeds*, organic millet*, organic whole sprouted triticale*, organic whole sprouted rye*, organic whole sprouted barley*, organic buckwheat*, organic whole corn*, citric acid, organic whole brown rice*, organic whole sprouted spelt*, organic whole sprouted kamut® khorasan wheat*, organic sesame seeds*, organic whole amaranth*, organic whole quinoa*.

*Certified Organic

May contain tree nuts and soy.

Great question! Here’s your long-winded answer...

What’s so bad about flour, especially if it’s whole grain?

Whole grains are healthy - they are loaded with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein, and fibre. Whole grains are also, of course, high in carbohydrates but also low on the glycemic index, which means they affect blood sugar levels mildly. This is good because research has shown that eating a diet high in low glycemic foods may help prevent insulin resistance and the risk for chronic disease, such as type 2 diabetes.

However, when grains are processed into flour they become easier for the body to process and therefore, they have a higher glycemic index (GI) and have a greater impact on blood sugars. Some “whole wheat” breads made with very fine flours, although they are more nutritious, can have the same GI as white bread. Whole wheat bread and products labeled "whole grain" are usually made with flour.

As for your flour-free bread - it’s made with the grain intact, so that’s a good thing. Also, this bread has a lot of different grains in it which means variety. Dietitians like variety because it means a wider array of nutrients. Also, I don't see a lot of additives in there - bonus. Finally, it’s organic which means little to nothing in terms of nutritional value alone, but is good for the earth.

If there are any downsides to this bread it would be this: Often these breads are more dense than regular loaves. Flour puffs up nicely and holds air. Flour-less breads do not. It is also loaded with (although nutritious) high Calorie nuts and seeds. Lastly, even "organic evaporated cane juice" is just a fancy term for sugar, and it appears third on the ingredient list which means it's the third most abundant ingredient. Could be worse, could be better.

My verdict: Overall this bread a very healthy choice, but due to the Calories, you may want to watch your portions.

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