We all know that having heart health requires the consumption of the right kinds of food and exercise, but did you know that the bread you eat may have a huge impact on your heart health?
Bread is an essential part of our bodies but it can actually do more harm than good depending on the type you consume.
Over the years I have changed from one bread to another depending on what I experienced when eating certain bread due to my body’s reaction.
I am not a fan of bread myself, I eat it occasionally, but when I do, I focus on those that will help keep my heart super healthy without compromising on the taste of course.
Having had many experiences with bad eating habits this made me discover the best foods to eat for optimal heart health including bread.
In this article I will be talking about ways of finding a heart healthy bread and making it part of your healthy eating bread when you feel the need of eating bread.
Look for a dark colored bread
This is by far the number aspect you should first focus on when choosing a heart healthy bread.
This is because it is the most obvious feature you first look at when you buy any type of bread. So my tip is to always go for the darker color. This means bread that is more or less brown.
The reason for choosing a darker color is because of the grains it has. Generally all dark color foods are very healthy.
A word of caution though…having a brown/dark color doesn’t necessarily guarantee the bread (or any food for that matter) as being healthy. There is more investigation that you need to do after establishing this color aspect.
The following passage will explain another step that needs to be taken before fully reaching your decision and that is finding out the whole grain component of the bread.
There are different kinds of grains when it comes to food and bread. Those grains are whole grain, refined grains and enriched grains, but it is vital to note that the most important grain is the whole grain.
Although the other grains all have vitamins and nutrients (high in fiber) , but the whole grain is what your heart and body really needs and I will explain to you how.
According to research whole grains are linked to reducing health problems such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
More than that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that at least half of your grain consumption should come from whole grains.
Whole grains can either be normal food such as brown rice and pop-corn or it may be a by-product of food such as whole wheat flour from food such as bread.
Here is how the whole grain compare to other grains:
- Whole grains:
These are complete grains whereby the grains are not removed of anything during miling.
This means all the nutrients that were in the grain before miling are still present.
- Enriched grains
These are grains whereby the nutrients which got lost during the milling are replaced with other nutrients which never existed in those grains before.
Refined grains are those grains that get the bran removed upon milling.
This process has a bad effect since it causes nutrients like fiber be removed from the grains.
This process is generally done to extend the shelf life of these grains.
The foods made from these grains are white bread, white rice, white sugar etc.
Whole grains are the best grains because, compared to other grains, they have the most fiber, potassium, magnesium and folate. More than that whole grains are the complete grains.
One of the great features about whole grains having high fiber is that it will help regulate your body weight by leaving you fuller for longer.
This means once you have established the first step of choosing a brown bread (when you are shopping) you would want to check if the bread you are buying is whole grain by looking at the nutritional label of the bread.
For whole grains, It is worthy to note that some bread may be written “made with whole grains”, This can be not totally true as they may have added other grains. My advice would to opt for a 100% whole grain bread instead as this will guarantee you are eating whole grained bread.
Once you have done these two steps you are surely on your way to maintaining good heart health.
What I am about to say here may seem very counter-intuitive but bear with me…
Are you one of those people who cannot leave white bread due to the taste it has that you are addicted to? well I have good news for you. You can continue eating it, here is how to find the health version of it.
When buying white bread you should aim to get one that is called whole-wheat bread. This bread has the same nutrients and essentials that brown whole wheat (normal whole grain) bread has.
Sodium content is one of the most important ingredients that must never be overlooked when it comes to attaining heart health and most people tend to overlook it.
I learnt this aspect the hard way 8 years ago when I was naive when it came to the importance of sodium for heart health especially in bread.
Sodium has a huge impact on affecting your heart health as it increases you blood pressure levels.
The US guideline recommends a sodium content of not more than 2300 milligrams (mg) per day. So it is vital to not forget the sodium content in your bread.
I would advice you look for bread with the least amount of sodium, which is less than 250 milligrams of sodium per slice.
But wait that’s not all when it comes to sodium……….
Did you know that most of the sodium we consume comes from other processed foods like those in cans? So it is vital to ensure that you also reduce the consumption of other processed foods so you can assist with managing the sodium content. This process alone will help with your heart healthy efforts.
Seeds or Nuts
You may also find that some heart healthy bread have seeds or Nuts.
Seeds and nuts are very essential for heart health and more than that you will benefit a lot from their other nutrients.
The common Bread in this category is the flaxseed bread. I have talked about flaxseeds on my previous article where i talked about the health benefits of flaxseed capsules. If you haven’t seen it you can check it out here.
The other common bread for nuts is walnut bread which you can also benefit from.
Some benefits of adding a seeded or a nut bread are as follows:
Fights off heart disease
Nuts ,being known as the major component of a Mediterranean diet, has all the antioxidants for protecting the heart.
The nuts accomplish this by making sure your heart artery walls are clean and strong.
Flaxseed does a similar job whereby it helps with unclogging heart arteries.
So a bread combination of seeds and nuts is indeed a sure and guaranteed way to heart health.
Managing of diabetes and weight
According to research nuts have been linked to managing blood sugar levels. One way the nuts do this is by giving you lots of fiber which keep you fuller for long and thus prevent you from constantly eating which can effect your blood sugar levels.
Oat or oatmeal
Oat is another vital component that can deem the bread you are eating heart healthy.
Oat is regarded as one of the most healthy grains due to being a whole grain that is filled with a lot of nutrients such as fiber and antioxidants.
Oats are whole grains that are filled with a lot of fat, fiber and high content of protein.
Below are the major disease the oats helps to fight:
With oat or oatmeal’s high content of insoluble fiber it helps with the relieving you of any constipation by producing bowel movement in your intestines.
Help fight off diabetes
With the high fiber in oatmeal as well as the presence of low glycemic Index this food assists with controlling and managing blood sugar levels.
Improve heart health
According to healthline, oat is known to reduce the bad cholesterol in the blood arteries.
With the current research done by JAMA Pediatrics finding out more and more teens being overweight and failing to lose weight, adding oat in your teenager’s meals can be very beneficial since oat meal adds the effect of keeping you fuller for long and thus regulating your weight.
Another aspect of a heart healthy bread is one that incorporates the lentils in some form or another.
Lintels are known for their cholesterol reducing capabilities. This is due to the high content of soluble fiber. This alone contributes to reducing your chances of getting a heart disease.
Below are the benefits of lentils:
Blood circulation and heart health
The high amount of folate and magnesium in them make lentils good in producing proper blood circulation and absorption of oxygen through the blood. Magnesium is also linked to relaxing the cardiovascular muscles which then reduces the blood pressure in your body.
Are you a vegetarian and looking to increase your protein intake? I have good new for you.
Having bread that is composed of lentils can give you a protein amount which is equivalent to meat, fish or dairy products.
Studies done have shown that lentils have the ability to reduce cancer by effecting the cancer cells.
This means that bread with lentils can be a great benefit to your heart health overall.
Options of bread
- Flaxseed bread
- Ezekiel bread
- Oat bread
- Walnut bread
- Rye bread
- Brown rice bread
- Gluten-free bread
- Brown bread
- Protein bread
- Purple bread
All the elements/ingredients I mentioned are vital when you are choosing a heart healthy bread, but more importantly a combination of all of these elements will ensure you maximize the benefits for your heart when consuming bread.
Some people may be allergic to some of these foods such as nuts which will mean they must avoid bread which contain these foods.
Since there are a lot of options for helping you with keeping your heart healthy and keeping your heart arteries unclogged (when eating bread) you can substitute an ingredient you are allergic to with any of the other heart healthy options I mentioned.
For example if you are allergic to nuts you can opt for rye bread instead of walnut bread.
The rule of thumb is two incorporate at least 90% of these elements/ingredients when choosing a heart healthy bread.
I hope this article helped you learn how to choose a heart healthy bread. I wrote this article due to my heart healthy journey whereby I was recovering my heart health after a lifetime of damage which was caused by foods I ate which I didn’t know were hurting me in the long run.
I would love to hear from you whether you are sharing your experience of information to help the world in terms of heart healthy.