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Why brown bread is better?

health-and-fitness Updated: Jan 17, 2013 10:47 IST
Debasmita Ghosh
Debasmita Ghosh
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Your friend always opts for brown bread at the sandwich counter. Broken, husked brown rice is your colleague’s choice for lunch. Wondering what this brown-eating fettish is about and if you too must switch? We get your queries answered by experts.

Brown vs white rice
When it comes to food, the thumb rule is to opt for naturally brown or dark coloured food as they are rich in nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals that help the body to deal with cell damaging free radicals. Although brown rice or hulled rice, and white rice have similar amounts of calories and carbohydrates, the main differences lie in processing and nutritional content. When only the husk is removed, brown rice is produced. To produce white rice, the next layers underneath the husk — the bran layer and the germ — are removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm. Several vitamins, fibre and dietary minerals as well as nutritious bran oil are lost in this removal and the subsequent polishing process, says clinical nutritionist Deepti Khatuja of Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon.

Brown vs white bread
With white bread again, the difference is that the flour is more processed than that in whole wheat bread, and in this processing, the germ and bran of the wheat grain are removed, and only the white, starchy endosperm is left, which is the least nutritious.White breads also often contain added sugars, including high fructose corn syrup. Consuming excessive amount of all this may lead to weight problems resulting into various degenerative diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular problems, says Dr Khatuja.
Whole wheat flour, on the other hand, has the germ and bran intact and therefore contains more nutrients. The brand in whole wheat flour bread provides fibre, protein, vitamin E and B, magnesium, manganese, iron, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. Whole wheat also contains a phytonutrient called plant lignans that has been found to have a protective effect against breast cancer and heart disease.

Want to Bake brown bread at home? Here’s how
800gm atta (whole wheat flour), 200gm maida, 30gm yeast, 25gm gluten, 30gm sugar, 20gm salt, 100gm oat flour, 500gm water, dry oregano to sprinkle on the top

Sift the atta and maida together in a big mixing bowl. Add the oat flour, yeast, gluten, sugar, salt and mix well. Now, add water to make a dough out of it. Prepare the dough well and to check its elasticity pull out a small ball and roll it out. The dough should be smooth enough. Now divide the dough in four parts and transfer it in four separate baking dishes and let it rise for at least 30 minutes. Keep checking after every 15 minutes. Once the dough rises, bake it in the oven at 190-200 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle dry oregano over the freshly prepared bread.

What to keep in mind when buying brown bread
Check label to see that the first ingredient listed is either whole wheat (atta) or whole meal flour. Do not buy if only wheat flour or refined wheat flour is mentioned and whole wheat flour is mentioned as the fourth or fifth ingredient. If the label reads ‘enriched’, the flour is same as that for white bread.

The presence of caramel as an ingredient on the label often indicates bread colouring to darken white bread to brown.

On the label, check for less than 401mg sodium, 1gm saturated fat and 4gm fibre per 2 slice serving.

Energy 1,548 kJ (370 kcal)
Carbohydrates 77.24gm
Dietary fibre 3.5gm
Fat 2.92gm
Protein 7.94gm
Thiamine 0.401mg (35%)
Riboflavin 0.093mg (8%)
Niacin 5.091mg (34%)
Folate 20ug (5%)
Calcium 23mg (2%)
Iron 1.47mg (11%)
Magnesium 143mg (40%)
Potassium 223mg (5%)
Sodium 7mg (0%)

Zinc 2.02gm (21%)

(Inputs from pastry chef Antara, Bread & More and Dr Ambica Sharma, clinical nutritionist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ghaziabad)