Few things are as basic and elegant as the French baguette. A long, thin loaf of bread that's crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, the baguette's nutrition profile varies depending on whether it's made from refined flour or whole-grain flour.
A staple in France, the baguette is also popular in other parts of the world. Baking the French baguette is an art form in itself. If you've ever tried baking it, you know it can be tricky to get bread that's crusty but not hard, soft but not mushy and caramelized but not burned.
French Baguette Nutrition
Bread has gotten quite a bad rap lately, especially with the growing popularity of no-carb and low-carb diets. If you're wondering whether you should be eating it or not, here's what you need to know about the French baguette in nutrition terms.
According to the USDA, a 100-gram portion of a baguette has 270 calories. Like most types of bread, the baguette's calories are primarily from carbs. Per the USDA, a 100-gram portion of a baguette has 56 grams of carbs, 9 grams of protein and 0.5 grams of fat. Of the baguette's carb content, only 1 gram of carbs is from fiber.
Baguettes are a source of considerable salt. A November 2012 study published in the journal Nutrition Reviews notes that the salt content in some European breads can be up to 2 percent of the flour content. Per the USDA, a 100-gram portion of baguette has 680 milligrams of salt.
The American Heart Association (AHA) links excess sodium consumption with high blood pressure and heart problems and therefore recommends an ideal limit of 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day for most adults and an upper limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
Refined Flour Versus Whole-Grain Flour
The traditional French baguette is baked with refined flour, which is not the healthiest option, according to the AHA. The AHA notes that refined grains, like the ones in white bread and French baguettes, are simple carbs that cause a surplus of sugar in your bloodstream after you eat them. These carbs are then stored in the body as fat.
The AHA recommends replacing the refined grains in your diet with whole grains because they provide more nutrition and dietary fiber. Fiber helps lower your cholesterol levels, improves your heart health and reduces your risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and stroke. Furthermore, the AHA states that whole-grain versions of breads like baguettes have fewer calories and less sugar than their refined flour counterparts.
According to the AHA, whole-grain breads may also have less sodium than regular bread. Sodium is a mandatory ingredient when it comes to baking bread, since it keeps the yeast culture in check and is therefore necessary for the preservation of bread. However, breads with a lower sodium content are healthier than varieties of bread that have a lot of sodium.
A study published in the December 2013 issue of the journal Antioxidants (Basel) found that whole-wheat breads are also a better source of antioxidants than breads made of refined flour. The study notes that whole wheat is a good source of antioxidants like vitamins C and E, as well as carotenoids, phenolic acids and flavonoids.
Read more: Whole-Grain Bread Vs. White Bread
Baguettes can be part of a balanced, healthy diet as a source of fiber, vitamins and minerals as long as you opt for whole-grain varieties.
- USDA: “Baguette”
- American Heart Association: “How Much Sodium Should I Eat Per Day?”
- American Heart Association: “Are Some Breads Getting a Bad Rap?”
- U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs: “Fast-Food Alternatives”
- Nutrition Reviews: “Salt in Bread in Europe: Potential Benefits of Reduction”
- Antioxidants: “Comparison of Antioxidant Properties of Refined and Whole Wheat Flour and Bread”