Bread has ancient roots, and is a staple of many diets throughout the world, from thriving metropolises to developing nations. Bread comes in all shapes, flavors and forms, and is typically made from accessible and affordable ingredients. These ingredients are important because they help fill nutritional gaps in the diet as well as help you feel full and satisfied.
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Breads of all types are a prime source of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates play an essential role in the body as a preferred source for energy and your body's main source of fuel. When you digest carbohydrates, your body can break the carbohydrate down into glucose. Glucose is then combined with oxygen in the cell's mitochondria to create energy through aerobic respiration.
The fiber in breads is a type of carbohydrate that your body is unable to digest, but at the same time still plays an important role in your body. Breads can contain both soluble and insoluble fibers. Soluble fibers create a gel-like substance in your digestive tract which helps block the absorption of bad cholesterol into your bloodstream, as well as help with blood sugar regulation. Insoluble fiber helps improve the health of your digestive tract and provides bulk to your stool, which can help prevent problems like constipation. Fiber is typically found in higher amounts in whole grain breads versus processed grain breads such as white bread.
Breads typically also contain varying levels of fat, which also play an important role in your body. Fat is necessary for cell health because without fat your cells would not be able to maintain the cell membrane, causing them to die. Fats also are needed to help your body absorb certain fat-soluble vitamins including vitamins A, E, D and K. Not all fats are created equal. Both unsaturated fats and less healthful saturated fats can be found in breads, and in some cases bread products can also contain the even more unhealthy trans-fats. When including breads in your diet, aim for products low in saturated fats and absent of trans-fats.
Protein can also be found in most breads. Protein is a necessary part of your diet because it contains amino acids, which are essential to maintaining muscle. Protein plays an essential role throughout your body, especially in relation to building the various tissues in your body. Protein is also important for healthful immune system function as well as for creating enzymes and hormones.
Vitamins and Minerals
Depending on the ingredients used to make bread, the finished product can contain a range of essential vitamins and minerals. These can include B vitamins, such as niacin, thiamin riboflavin and folate, as well as other vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. Breads can also be fortified with vitamins and minerals to increase their nutritional content.