Nutritional value of bread and consumers perceptionBread has been a staple food of human nutrition for centuries. Bread nutrient content particularly carbohydrates and fibre contributes to the daily energy intake. However it is an issue that diet programs without bread became common recently despite the nutrient content and nutritional value of bread. So, what science authorities say about this? What is the relationship between bread and an adequate, balanced diet?
Nutrient composition of breadBread is produced using grains such as wheat, rye and oat; therefore, nutrient composition of bread changes based on the grain used to produce the bread. In addition, the quality of flour used for bread production and addition of products such as bran, milk and seeds, black cumin, sesame, chickpeas or olive oil affect the nutritional value of bread.
Table 1: Nutrition facts for various types of bread (1000g).2
|Macronutrients||Wheat bread||Wheat bread, wholemeal||Rye bread||Rye with bread, wholemeal|
|Carbohydrates, g (energy contribution, %)||49 (82)||41 (81)||41 (83)||39 (80)|
|Protein, g (energy contribution, %)||8 (14)||8 (15)||5 (11)||7 (15)|
|Fat, g (energy contribution, %)||1 (4)||1 (4)||1 (6)||1 (5)|
|Dietary fibre, g||3||7||7||8|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), μg||86||150||180||180|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), μg||60||150||51||150|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin), mg||2,2||5||1,8||1,6|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), μg||17||79||80||150|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate), μg||22||29||16||14|
|Sodium (salt), g||0,5 (1,4)||0,5 (1,2)||0,5 (1,1)||0,5 (1,3)|
Almost half of our daily energy comes from the carbohydrates. Therefore, bread as well as rice, bulgur, pasta, noodles and potatoes form an important part of an adequate and balanced diet. Bread also contains protein, vitamins, minerals and small amount of fat.
Grains are rich in dietary fibres. Bran from the outer layers of cereal grains provides micronutrients, i.e., vitamin B such as thiamine, niacin and folate and minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium. The quantity of these nutrients depends on the type of flour and the quality of cereal that are used to produce bread (see.Table 1). Coarsely milled flour or whole wheat flour is richer in nutrients compared to white flour, i.e., finely milled flour. Therefore, whole wheat bread does not only contain more fibre but also provides more vitamins and minerals. In some special cases, wheat or other whole wheat germs, vitamins and minerals are added to the milled flour in order to improve the bread quality and increase the nutritional value.
Approximately two third of the fibre content of cereal grains is insoluble fibre and the remaining one third is soluble fibre. Separating bran from the cereal grain causes to loss of insoluble fibres. Adequate fibre intake through quality whole wheat bread consumption as a part of our daily diet does not only support digestive functions but also supports detoxification activities in the body. In addition, it may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes through the regulation of fat and glucose levels in blood and helps to control of body weight.
Contribution of bread to Europeans nutritionOn average, an EU citizen consumes 50 kg bread per year; in other words, the consumption is approximately 137 g bread (3-5 slices of white bread) per day. In addition, the consumption rate varies by country. Annual bread consumption in Germany and Austria is 80 kg bread while it can be less than 50 kg for people in Ireland and United Kingdom. It is also observed that there is a steady decline (1-2% per year) in the bread consumption figures by each year in England and Germany.
Contribution of bread to the diet in TurkeyAccording to 1974 Diet, Health and Food Consumption Research food consumption data for Turkey bread consumption contributes 44% of daily energy intake by. TEKHARF research results also revealed that the contribution of cereal and cereal products to daily energy intake is 37% and 43%, respectively. Bread and other cereal products can be considered as staple food even though a reduction is observed in bread consumption over the years, depending on changes in the food consumption patterns. Turkey Nutrition and Health Survey- 2010 showed that average daily bread consumption is 249 g for male individuals while it is 151 g for females.
Information pollution about breadRecently, it is a widespread idea that food containing starch including bread may lead to an increase in body weight. Increased popularity of high protein/ low carbohydrate diets that allow rapidly weight loss had substantial contribution to the wide-spread acceptance of this idea. However, in general, this diet pattern leads low energy intake which can cause weight loss rather than avoiding the carbohydrate intake. A recent extensive research showed that there is no relation between the consumption of whole bread and weight gain; however, consumption of refined flours bread can lead increase in abdominal fat tissue mass.
Another common idea suggests that bread consumption causes abdominal distension, i.e., distended abdomen, is not valid as well. Scientific data are not available to support the validity of this for healthy individuals. However, consumption of wheat bread and other food with gluten content may cause problems related with the digestion system in case of celiac disease or gluten intolerance. The frequency for people with wheat or other food allergies, or intolerance is higher than the actual rate of the allergy. In case of suspecting from allergy or sensitivity, i.e. intolerance, it is important to consult to a doctor as limited consumption of such food rather than consulting to a doctor may lead to nutrient deficiencies.
Increasing bread’s nutritional value and qualityTo strength bread dough, i.e. forming gluten complex, and for the flavour, salt is used in bread. Bread, staple food for most of the European countries, is also one of the food products contributing to the total salt intake. There are initiatives to reduce salt levels in bread across several European countries, ranging from a 10-15% reduction target in Austria and Italy, and up to 30% in Croatia. Therefore, bread has an important role with respect to daily salt intake. In Turkey, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock set the salt content of bread and bread varieties as 1.5% in accordance with ‘Turkish Food Codex Bread and Bread Varieties Regulation’. Thus, in our country, the salt content of bread and consequently, the contribution of bread consumption to salt intake have been reduced substantially. However, it should be noted that food products such as tomato paste, cheese, olives and pickles also have substantial contribution to salt intake. Initiatives such as adding fibres, whole grains, seeds and omega 3 fat acids to bread contributed to the improvement of bread’s nutritional value and it is likely that innovations will be continued.
1. O'Connor A (2012). An overview of the role of bread in the UK diet. Nutrition Bulletin 37:193-212.
2. DGExpert, Version 188.8.131.52, German Nutrition Society 2013.
3. European Food Safety Authority (2010). Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for carbohydrates and dietary fibre. EFSA Journal 8(3):1462.
4. The Federation of Bakers website, The Bread Industry, Industry Facts, European Bread Market.
5. Pekcan, G. and Marcheish, R. 2001. FAO Nutrition Country Profiles–Turkey, 2001. www.fao.org/es/ESN/ncp/turmap.pdf Date of Access: 10.02.2015
6. Arslan P et al., General diet pattern and dietary habits of the participants of TEKHARF 2003-2004 survey Turkish Cardiology Society Arch. 2006; 34(6): 331-339
7. Turkey Diet and Health Research 2010,
8. O'Connor A (2012). Bread consumption in the UK: what are the main attitudinal factors affecting current intake and its place in a healthy diet? Nutrition Bulletin 37:368-379.
9. Bautista-Castaño I & Serra-Majem L (2012). Relationship between bread consumption, body weight, and abdominal fat distribution: evidence from eidemiological studies. Nutrition Reviews 70:218-233.
10. Weichselbaum E (2012). Does bread cause bloating? Nutrition Bulletin 37:30-36.
11. Ohlund K, et al. (2010). Dietary shortcomings in children on a gluten-free diet. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 23(3):294-300.
12. World Health Organization (2013).Mapping salt reduction initiatives in the WHO European Region. Copenhagen, Denmark.
13. Belz MCE, Ryan LAM, Arendt EK (2012). The impact of salt reduction in bread: a review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 52:514-524.
This article is translated from EUFIC publication on “Bread: A nutritious staple” (http://www.eufic.org/en/healthy-living/article/bread-a-nutritious-staple ) by Sabri Ülker Foundation.