Welcome to part 4 of our miniseries. In part 1, we provided ground rules for choosing healthy bread. In part 2, we explained what whole grains are. In part 3 we presented the most common ingredients used in bread.
Today, five ingredients you want to avoid in store brought bread:
- Partially hydrogenated oils – yes, the evil trans-fat lurk in the bread aisle too. Make sure they don’t make the jump to your shopping cart.
- Potassium bromate – used as a dough conditioner. (Reminder: dough conditioners (1) shorten dough rising times (2) increase shelf life, and (3) make the dough easier for their machinery to process). Potassium bromate is harmful in its raw form, but disappears during the baking process. Unless some of it doesn’t. Europe, Canada, and many other countries have banned the use of this additive.
- Azodicarbonamide – a popular dough conditioner. As a side benefit, it also bleaches the flour (makes it whiter). It’s considered safe in the US at up to 45 parts per million, but is banned from use in Europe because studies showed it could cause asthma or allergic reactions.
- DATEM – an acronym for Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Monoglycerides. Another dough conditioner used to improve volume and uniformity. It is considered safe by the FDA, but a study in 2002, on rats, showed “heart muscle fibrosis and adrenal overgrowth”.
- Artificial colors – you’d be surprised but some breads include artificial colors.
Here are some additional indicators of a less nutritious bread:
- enriched flours instead of whole grain flours
- ingredient list with more than 10-15 ingredients (the average is over 20)
- bleached flour vs. unbleached flour.
- low fiber count (less than 2 grams per slice)
- excessive amounts of fats and sugars