Up until relatively recently, bread was the enemy of most weight loss regimens.
However, modern diet science understands that although bread is low in micronutrients and high in gluten content harmful to some populations, it can be an important health resource if consumed in moderation. It all comes down to the type of bread accompanying your meal.
Bread high in fiber and enzymes important to cardiovascular function can contribute to both energy production and longevity.
Just in time for Thanksgiving, comes a new study published in the Clinical Nutrition journal, that puts the benefits awarded by enzyme-enriched bread on par with blueberries. At least as far as blood circulation is concerned.
“Clinical trial data have indicated an association between wholegrain consumption and a reduction in surrogate markers of cardiovascular disease. Phenolics present in wholegrain bound to arabinoxylan fibre may contribute these effects, particularly when released enzymatically from the fiber prior to ingestion,” the authors wrote in the new paper. “The aim of the present study was therefore to determine whether the intake of high fibre bread containing higher free ferulic acid (FA) levels (enzymatically released during processing) enhances human endothelium-dependent vascular function.”
The researchers from the University of Redding set up a trial sample comprised of healthy men who evidenced biomarkers that may facilitate poor blood circulation later in life to test their hypothesis.
Participants were tasked with consuming either a high fiber enzyme enriched flatbread or an equivalent of standard low fiber white bread–which served as the study’s control.
For the experiment group, the authors added an enzyme that increased the levels of micronutrient ferulic acid in the flatbread by more than five times.
Those who consumed the augmented bread saw immediate benefits to vascular health, which means consuming standard whole-grain high fiber bread can provide the same benefits over time.
“All wholegrain and high fibre breads contain similar contents of phenolic compounds to those present in blueberries and other superfoods, but the chemicals are tightly bound to fibre in the bread—meaning we don’t typically get the health benefits from consuming them unless eaten regularly over the long term.
“This may be one of the reasons why we see greater benefits from regular wholegrain consumption, as these compounds are slowly released in the gut. Processing with an enzyme to release the ferulic acid prior to bread making had changed that, effectively unlocking the goodness of the wholegrain and making it immediately available. The effect on blood flow seen in the study are really clear and show that with a small addition, bread can be as good as blueberries for your health.”
The enzyme added to the flatbread consumed by participants is found in other healthy foods and beverages like berries and green tea. Given how accessible bread is and appliable to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, enriching it with micronutrients could be a game-changer for dietary intervention.
The enzyme employed in the new paper has already been accepted for food use for commercial brewers as part of a mixture of enzymes that break down the fiber during malting.
“While there is a growing recognition that foods like berries or green tea have a positive benefit for human health due to the presence of polyphenols, we recognise that there are barriers for much of the population to consume amounts of these that may have a significant impact on their health,” the authors concluded. “Our study shows that there are ways that we can subtly change the characteristics of staple foods such as bread to increase the positive micronutrients found in them.”