What is “smart bread?”

I’m not sure why they call it “smart bread.” Is it because it’s smart to eat it or because it is made for smart people? Or could they be referring to the omega-3 fats added to the bread? There are some studies that have linked a higher intake of omega-3 fats from fish in the diet of pregnant women to higher IQs in their offspring. But in these cases we’re talking about significant amounts of omega-3s, not the trivial fifteen milligrams found in a serving of this new-fangled smart bread. I will agree though that it is smarter to eat smart bread than the regular white loaf that so many people seem to favour. Standard white bread with its marshmallow-like texture doesn’t have much to offer nutrition-wise. That’s why we are constantly being urged to eat whole grain bread. Actually, not only whole grain bread, but whole grain products in general. Why? Because the bran and the germ that are removed when whole grains are ground into white flour contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and a variety of polyphenols with antioxidant properties. A number of studies have show that consuming whole grains offers protection against cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Unfortunately nutrition is not the only consideration for people when they make dietary decisions. Taste and texture play an important role. And many people don’t like the taste and texture of whole grain bread. But now there is a way to get the nutrients, maybe not all, found in whole grain bread in something called whole grain white bread. Or, as they’re calling it, “smart bread.”

Traditional white wheat flour comes from the most commonly grown type of wheat which somewhat paradoxically is called red wheat. That’s because before processing, the grain is actually reddish due to tannins and phenolic acids present in the bran, the outer coating of the grain. While these compounds are “healthy” they are responsible for the bitter taste that makes many avoid whole wheat flour. But there are some varieties of wheat which have far fewer tannins and phenolic acids in their bran, and are sometimes referred to as “albino.” The whole grain can be ground and the result is flour that is white but is still whole grain. But since it still contains the tough textured bran, special milling techniques are needed to produce a very fine flour that has a texture similar to white flour that has no bran in it. This destroys some of the nutrient but still leaves much of the fiber in tact. Bread made from this flour is sort of in-between white bread and whole wheat bread. Whole wheat has about 6 grams of fiber per two slices, white bread has 2 and whole wheat white bread has 4. To achieve the desired texture with the albino wheat, a number of dough conditioning agents such as stearoyl lactylate or mono and diglycerides have to be added. There isn’t anything wrong with this, but the best breads are made with nothing but whole grain flour, yeast, sugar and salt. So what’s the conclusion here! Smart bread is a better nutritional choice than the standard white bread, but smart people eat real whole grain bread, not a hyped wannabe.

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