The question of whether bread is suitable for those with diabetes is a common one. Well, one can certainly enjoy bread if they eat the right kind in moderation. Whole-grain bread can be a part of a healthy diabetes diet, except in cases where your doctor recommends otherwise. Multigrain bread is also a good option for diabetes as it contains high fibre levels, which helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
People with diabetes have a range of options for healthy bread choices that can help them control blood sugar levels and maintain their weight. The key is to select the correct type of bread, considering the carbohydrate, glycemic index, and fibre content.
Types of Bread
Despite its bad reputation in today’s health-conscious society, bread has been an essential part of the human diet for centuries. One of the oldest foods, bread, was created in the Neolithic period. It is a baked and leavened food made using basic ingredients such as flour, water, and yeast.
Studies have demonstrated that consuming bread in moderation does not lead to weight gain. Instead, bread can be a source of essential vitamins and minerals and help provide the body with extra energy. The results suggest that two slices of whole-wheat bread can be added to one’s daily diet, even if they have diabetes.
Today, bread comes in various types, shapes, sizes, and textures. In addition, there are infinite combinations of different flours and proportions of ingredients for making bread. ,,,
Which Bread is Good for Diabetics?
White bread is made from refined all-purpose flour, which only utilises the endosperm. Because it lacks the bran and germ, white bread has a lower amount of fibre. The flour used is maida, or refined wheat flour, which contains high fat, GI, and calories, making it unhealthy for those with diabetes. In addition, the refined starch in white bread is a sugar substitute and disrupts glucose control.
Gluten-free bread is an ideal choice for those with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and other wheat-related sensitivities. Gluten is a protein in cereals like wheat, barley, and rye and is absent in gluten-free bread. Moreover, if you have diabetes and suffer from any of these digestive issues, gluten-free bread is a more suitable option.
Be aware that some gluten-free bread brands may contain added sugar, fat and salt to enhance their flavour. Therefore, it is vital to always look at the ingredients list.
Whole wheat bread is suitable for people with diabetes, as it helps regulate blood sugar levels. A study showed that consuming 180g/d of this bread for three months reduced blood sugar levels, thanks to its fibre content. Additionally, it has a glycaemic index (GI) range of 56 to 59, which has a moderate effect on blood sugar.
Whole-grain, wheat bread retains all its essential nutrients, such as bran, germ, and endosperm. The USDA states that a single slice of wheat bread offers 3 g of dietary fibre, making up 10% of the daily value.
Whole wheat bread typically has fewer calories than white bread. Hence, it can benefit those trying to lose or better manage their weight. However, the calories and fibre content of various brands of whole wheat bread can vary.
Nutritionists recommend looking for labels that say 100% whole wheat to ensure they get the full health benefits. For those with diabetes, eating 100% whole wheat bread is generally healthier.
However, those with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, or gastroparesis may find that white bread a the better option.
Most people often think brown bread and whole wheat bread are the same. However, they are pretty different. Brown bread is a mix of refined and whole wheat flour, with added ingredients like caramel for colour. Brown bread does not contain the bran, endosperm, and germ that whole-grain bread does. Therefore, it is nutritionally inferior in vitamins, protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Brown bread can be beneficial for diabetes when consumed in moderation. Whole wheat is the primary ingredient in most brands of brown bread. It contains 80% whole wheat flour, with some fractions of refined flour.
According to USDA data, one slice of brown bread provides 2 g of dietary fibre. However, it is vital to check the ingredients of the brown bread before purchasing it to make sure it is made with whole wheat.
High Protein Bread
Bread high in protein is made with the same components as protein powders. These ingredients include isolated whey protein, pea protein, soy protein, and egg white protein. Additionally, some brands utilise almond flour or chickpea flour.
High-protein bread is an excellent selection for people with diabetes who follow a plant-based diet. Additionally, it is ideal for competitive athletes with diabetes, as they typically have higher protein needs than the general adult population.
The fermentation process of sourdough bread makes it antidiabetic. Research shows that it is due to the microbial strain produced by the fermentation process. As a result, it is a better option for people with diabetes than traditional bread. Similarly, as pumpernickel bread uses a sourdough starter, it too is beneficial for people with diabetes.
Ezekiel bread is known for its low-GI score of 36, which makes it diabetes-friendly. It is rich in sprouted whole grains such as wheat, oats, barley, and millet. Certain brands of Ezekiel bread also have sprouted legumes added to them. The ingredients in the bread promote satisfaction and help to stabilise blood sugar levels, preventing them from rising too quickly.
The HealthifyMe Note
Depending on the type of flour and other ingredients used, there are many varieties of bread. If you have diabetes, it is better to avoid white bread, which contains refined carbohydrates and opt for authentic whole-grain bread, wheat bread, Ezekiel, sourdough, or pumpernickel bread. The best take for people with diabetes is to buy bread with high-fibre flour, low GI, and no added sugar.
How to Make Bread Part of Your Diabetes Diet?
When incorporating bread into your diet, make sure it is part of a nutritious, balanced meal. If you are eating bread, combine it with healthy fat and a lean source of protein. Doing this can help to regulate your blood sugar when consuming carbohydrates. Healthy options to pair with bread include avocado, eggs, nut butter, chicken, turkey, and high-fibre vegetables.
Your blood sugar response to eating bread can vary greatly depending on your gender, body weight, existing health conditions, and age. Everyone is different, and therefore carbohydrate intake needs customisation. Since not all carbs affect everyone the same way, the HealthifyPRO Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) device can be a helpful tool in helping you make the best carbohydrate choices.
A Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) can provide 24-hour tracking of your blood sugar levels. One can use it to reveal how their body responds to meals, daily activities, and other situations. For instance, it can show how your blood sugar behaves when you consume wheat or multigrain bread or how white bread can affect your levels.
Bread can still be part of a diabetes-friendly diet, but it is essential to be mindful of the type of bread you choose. Opt for bread made with whole grains, such as wheat or multigrain, as opposed to maida or processed flour, which contains little to no nutritional value. Additionally, combine bread with a protein source, such as eggs or vegetables, as this helps to stabilise your blood sugar levels. The high fibre content in wheat-based bread or multigrain bread is also beneficial, as it helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
For further advice, consult a HealthifyMe nutritionist to determine the right portion size and how to incorporate bread into your meal plan.
The Supporting Sources
1. Kourkouta, Lambrini & Koukourikos, & Iliadis, & Ouzounakis, & Monios, Alexandros & Tsaloglidou,. (2017). Bread and Health. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 5. 10.17265/2328-2150/2017.11.005.
2. Nazari, J., Yadegari, N., Khodam, S., Almasi-Hashian, A., & Amini, S. (2021). Effect of Consumption of Whole-Wheat Breads on FBS, HbA1c, and Blood Lipids in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Preventive nutrition and food science, 26(3), 269–274.
3. Data by the US Department of Agriculture. Data Type: Branded | Food Category: Breads and Buns | FDC ID: 542640|
4. Data by the US Department of Agriculture. Data Type: Branded | Food Category: Breads and Buns | FDC ID: 2278024 |
5. Sivamaruthi BS, Kesika P, Prasanth MI, Chaiyasut C. A Mini Review on Antidiabetic Properties of Fermented Foods. Nutrients. 2018;10(12):1973. Published 2018 Dec 13. doi:10.3390/nu10121973