Are all wheat products so bad that you need to go gluten-free?

  • Nutrition
  • Friday, 13 Dec 2019

Four slices of wholemeal bread will provide your recommended minimum of fibre a day. — dpa

There’s a lot of word-of-mouth myths about wheat and gluten-free products are booming in terms of sales.

But is wheat really always bad for you? Or are some wheat products healthier than others?

Nutrition experts say not all wheat flours are equal.

“The difference lies in how finely ground the flour is, ” says Harald Seitz from the German Centre for Nutrition.

There are ground and finely-ground flours; wholemeal flours are ground, leaving the germ, hull and endosperm intact, which means they are more healthy.

White bread, on the other hand, is made with finely-ground flour, which is why wheat products get a bad reputation.

”The demonisation of wheat is a modern phenomenon, ” he says.

It’s common to hear that white bread or a baguette will show up negatively on the weighing scales.

Yet Seitz says these products contain no more carbohydrates than breads made from other flours.

That said, white bread is relatively scant on nutritional content. It contains a lot of starch, which consists of sugar chains.

When the starch is broken up after being ingested, the body’s insulin level rises before crashing shortly afterwards, leading quickly to hunger pangs again.

While the same process happens with wholemeal products, because there’s dietary fibre in them as well, insulin levels drop slightly more slowly, leaving you feeling fuller for longer, explains Seitz.

Not every dark or seeded bread is wholemeal, however, which is why the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends checking the nutrition label.

Some baked goods are dyed darker to appear healthier, says Monika Bischoff, a nutrition researcher in Munich.

Malt extract or sugar beet syrup in the ingredients list can uncover such trickery.

The DGE recommends consuming wholewheat products whenever possible due to their higher fibre content.

The recommended minimum is 30 grams of fibre per day, which equals about four slices of wholemeal toast.

The human gut needs fibre, says Bischoff, “especially from oats, which are very valuable. It’s their beta glucan, which can sink cholesterol.”

But wholemeal flour contains far more vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B, iron, zinc, magnesium and secondary plant compounds. – dpa

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Diet , nutrition , gluten


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