Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Whole Grain bread - or not?
They fooled me – didn’t think it was possible – but they did! Who? The bread manufacturers and labelers did. I couldn’t believe it!!!! What am I talking about? Well, last week, right before we left on an eight night camping trip, I taught a cooking class. One of the topics I covered was how to select whole grain breads and how easy it is to be fooled – especially if you believe what it says on the front label of the bread. For the class, I bought 8 loaves of bread – 7 of which were really whole grain or whole wheat and one was not. Without reading the ingredient labels and by going only by the front label, I had them try to discern which loaf was NOT whole grain. A few of them got it right, but most of them didn’t. The one loaf which wasn’t whole grain was labeled 7 Grain bread – all of which were seeds or berries sprinkled on the top of a healthy looking loaf of white bread. Boy, was everyone surprised. The least healthy looking loaf of bread, and the softest one, was probably the best. It contained whole wheat flour and NO high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – only brown sugar. I would much rather feed my family good old fashioned brown sugar than HFCS any day of the week. Brown sugar does not interfere with one of the body’s hormones called leptin. Leptin is the hormone which signals the brain that you’ve had enough to eat and are satiated. HFCS is one of the ingredients that block that hormone from reaching the brain – causing us to eat and eat and eat – without seeming to ever get full. Does that sound familiar? I certainly have struggled with that in the past, but switching to a whole food, plant-based diet with minimally processed foods has cured me – and it will you too. However, back to how I was fooled!!!! Getting ready for an 8 night camping trip in the same week I held a cooking class caused me to cut a few corners. Normally I bake a couple of loaves of bread a day or two before we leave- but not this last week. I decided that was one area that I could sacrifice home made – after all, I had just taught a room full of people how to select a loaf of healthy bread – certainly I could do the same. So, off I went to gather a few items at our local discount club – some apples, potatoes, grapes, maple syrup and bread. The store had two loaves of bread packaged into one bag, so the ingredient label was nearly impossible to read. So, I went on someone else’s recommendation, the labels on the front of the loaves and the healthy grains sprinkled all over the top of the lovely bread. I felt the bread and it felt a little stiffer than the soft whole wheat bread setting next to it. It looked healthier with all of those seeds on top. Someone had recommended it as a nice whole grain bread. The front label read like an honor roll of whole grain goodness – “low fat”, “heart healthy”, “American Heart Association recommended as part of a heart healthy diet”, “a diet high in whole grains can lower your risk of heart disease and certain cancers” and a plethora of other wonderful sounding, health enhancing goodness. WOW! Taking that short cut and not preparing homemade sounded great. What a better choice this stiff bread was than the Whole Wheat soft bread sitting beside it with no glowing endorsements on the front. WRONG!!!!!!! On the first day of our trip, as we sat at the table fixing our sandwiches, I read the ingredient label! OH MY! The number one ingredient was “enriched wheat flour”!!!! No Whole anything in the ingredient label. Boy did I feel rather schnookered that day. I had fallen for the oldest tricks in the book. Thank goodness noone but family was around to see it. Needless to say, the first trip we made to the grocers, I replaced that bread with a REAL whole grain bread. We are happy and so are the fish and turtles who are getting quite a nice handout of that “healthy bread”.