Bread and bread substitutes: what is healthiest?

Almost everyone in the Netherlands eats bread every day. In the supermarket and at the bakery we can choose from an infinite number of varieties. But which one is actually the healthiest? Or would it be better to use a bread substitute?

The darker the better?

Everyone knows that brown bread is healthier than white bread. Brown bread contains more fiber and fiber is good for our digestion. They give you a feeling of fullness faster and keep the intestines moving well. Because we cannot digest fibers, they also ensure healthy stools. But there is often the idea that the darkest bread is also the healthiest. However, this is not true. The healthiest bread is whole wheat bread and that can also be very light brown. Whole wheat bread contains the most fiber. That is healthier than all very dark types of bread, often supplemented with kernels and seeds. Although they are healthy, they also provide extra fats unnoticed. Fortunately, whole wheat bread is also available in several varieties, such as coarse, fine, dark, light and with added kernels or seeds.

Special types of bread

A while ago several brands introduced the so-called white whole wheat bread. Specially to convince children of whole wheat bread, while they think they are eating white. However, this appears to be incorrect after various scientific studies. These types of bread contain much less nutrients and fiber than real whole wheat bread. There are also endless varieties of multi-grain bread or low-salt bread and don’t forget rye bread and sugar bread. All in all, plain whole wheat bread remains the healthiest for the average person (leaving aside allergies and the like). Bread can be broadly classified according to how healthy it is:

  • Whole wheat bread (doesn’t matter what type)
  • Rye bread
  • Multigrain bread
  • “plain” brown bread
  • White bread
  • raisinbread
  • Sugar Loaf


Bread substitutes

Nowadays, people do not eat bread, especially for breakfast, but bread substitutes in the form of crackers, rusk, crispbread, muesli or granola. These come in all kinds of variations, whole wheat or multigrain, with added vitamins and minerals, with fruit or nuts or chocolate. Depending on the building materials and fibers the product contains, it is healthy to a greater or lesser extent. For example, many mueslis and cruesli’s often contain a lot of sugar. Of course, added chocolate is never really healthy. Crackers often run the risk that they are not filling enough, which means they are eaten a lot. Take a good look at the packaging to see how many calories your product contains and what the ratio is in substances. Of course, also pay attention to the toppings.

The term whole grain

Whole wheat is a title that a product may only carry if it meets strict requirements regarding fiber and nutrients. So you can buy whole grain products with confidence. This obviously does not mean that these products are sacred, but if you normally eat regular gingerbread, choosing the whole wheat version is always a step in the right direction. This also applies to pasta, for example. Regular pasta is less healthy than the whole wheat variant.

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