Is bread really bad for you

Bread: varied enjoyment

About wholemeal bread, white bread and sourdough

Bread is one of our most important foods. In addition to protein and carbohydrates, whole grain bread provides us with vitamins, fiber and valuable trace elements. And last but not least, freshly baked bread is an aromatic pleasure. Author: Tino Richter

Whether Swedish crispbread, German mixed rye bread, Swiss wholegrain bread, Turkish pide, Indian chapati, Mexican tortillas or flatbreads made from cassava, bread is a food that is used almost all over the world. In the German-speaking area alone, over 300 different types of black, gray and white bread are offered.

However, an exact number is not known, which is why so-called bread registers collect the many different varieties and regional specialties. In Germany, between 55 and 60 kilograms of bread are consumed per capita per year, in Switzerland it is around 50 kilograms. However, the world leader is Iran: around 160 kilograms of bread per capita are produced here.

«Wes bread I eat ...

... whose song I sing », it was already said by the minesingers of the Middle Ages. At the time of the Roman Empire, the population was kept happy with "bread and games", and those who demand liquid bread consume grains that have germinated and dried over the malt in the beer. If you want to have two coveted things at once, the answer in Switzerland is: “S’Füfferli us Weggli”, that is, the 5-centime piece and the bread roll, cannot be got together. But also “earning a living”, “earning a living” or the counterpart, “the art without a bread”, testify to the enormous importance and the long history of bread.

Egyptians were bread eaters

The original form of bread consisted of a porridge made of water and grain, which was placed on hot stones and baked to make flatbreads. This simplest form of bread has been preserved as a typical dish in Malaysia (Roti Canai) via Pakistan (Papadam) to Turkey (Pide) and Italy (Focaccia). Flatbreads are known worldwide in all arable cultures and are still the most widespread way of preparing bread today.

But the Egyptians provided the first high culture of bread. In the land of the Nile, then also known as the granary of the Mediterranean, the effects of natural yeasts were discovered for the first time. These accumulated as the dough air dried. Yeasts produce carbon dioxide, which leads to a loose consistency of the dough, a better shelf life and, last but not least, a better taste. In addition, the Egyptians began to chop the grain between grinding stones and use the first ovens. In this way, larger loaves could be baked. From Egypt, the knowledge reached the rest of Europe via Greece and the Roman Empire.

Unique bread variety

But why are there so many different types of bread in German-speaking countries of all places? At that time, the Near Eastern wild wheat emmer and einkorn as well as wild barley were used to bake bread. As the population increased, however, farmers in Central Europe needed types of grain that produced good yields in a relatively cool climate. One of them was the wild grain rye. It tolerated the cold, damp climate and the sandy soils far better than the wheat that thrived south of the Alps. The unique bread culture that is unique in the world today developed through the different mixing of the two types of flour.

Another reason was the small states typical of past centuries in Germany. Many small duchies and independent cities ensured that not only did everyone cook their soup, but that every region also baked its own bread.

This is why the centrally ruled countries of France and England, for example, were able to develop a more uniform culture when it came to bread than the fragmented German Empire - which until 1648 legally included Switzerland. Their canton breads, such as the semi-white Bernese bread or the dark Valais bread made from wholemeal rye flour, still bear witness to this great variety.

White bread as a luxury good

In the Middle Ages, bread was a matter of prosperity. Until the 17th century, white bread was considered an absolute luxury good. Only the wealthy classes of the population could afford the expensive, light-colored varieties made from finely ground wheat or spelled flour. The majority ate dark bread made from coarsely ground (wholemeal) rye flour because it was significantly cheaper.

Whole grain bread first came into fashion on the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Reform movements emerged that were directed against advancing industrialization and sought closeness to nature. People wanted to eat natural, wholesome foods as much as possible. Since then, wholemeal bread has become a fixture in the bread basket.

Types of bread

Breads are basically divided into leavened and unleavened dough. Leavened bread contains leavening agents such as sourdough, yeast, or both. By storing gases, leavening agents ensure a loose consistency. Unleavened bread, such as flatbread, is baked before fermentation can begin.

While the Turkish flatbread (pide) is baked entirely from a yeast dough, the Jewish matzo does not contain any leavening agent. The more common differentiation for us is that according to the grain used (e.g. wheat, spelled or rye), the type of flour (extract flour or wholemeal flour, finely or coarsely ground) or special ingredients (e.g. pumpkin or sunflower seeds).

Important protein supplier

Alfred Vogel recognized that whole grain bread is important in order to «... be fed daily with what is necessary for our body.» After meat and milk, bread is our third most important source of protein; 15–20 percent of the daily protein requirement is covered by bread alone. Whole grain bread is unlike white bread rich in complex carbohydrates and also contains little fat. Especially in the outer layers of the grain, which are also processed with wholemeal flour Vitamins, Mineralsas Fiber and valuable Trace elements how selenium, iron, Zinc,copper and manganese. The carbohydrates in whole grain bread consist mainly of starch, only 2 to 4 percent are simple sugars. It is therefore ideal for preventing cardiovascular diseases.

Better whole grains than multigrains

Toast are wheat bread doughs with additional fat (butter or margarine) and some sugar and milk. Surprisingly, there is more fat in multigrain and seed toast due to the grains than in butter toast. The dark color of multi-grain toast is also not due to a lot of rye, but to caramel syrup or barley malt extract.

If you still don't want to miss out on toast, you should go for wholemeal toast. Because only here are the important dietary fibers available in sufficient quantities. If the toast is golden yellow and not burnt, the roasting process does not cause any harmful substances. Do not scrape off black spots, but use new toast.