Bread - The Straight Answers


The Straight Answers

Sourced from Consumer Information Bread Research Institute of Australia Ltd.

PO Box 7, North Ryde, 2113 6/9

Which Bread is Best?

All bread is nutritious.Bread is low in fat and sugar, high in complex carbohydrate and dietary fibre. In addition it contains protein, vitamins, riboflavin and niacin), and minerals including iron and calcium.

Wholemeal bread has 100% of the goodness of wheat.White bread has approximately the same carbohydrate and protein content and a good percentage of the whole wheat nutrients.

Other breads are made from a combination of white and wholemeal flours. Rye, corn, other grains and seeds add variety to this highly nutritious food.

What is Wholemeal Bread?

In Australia, wholemeal, wheatmeal and whole-wheat all mean the same thing. It is bread made from 100% wholemeal flour (which uses all the wheat grain) or 90% wholemeal and 10% white flour. Most white flour has 78% of the wheat grain.

So White Bread isn’t Just Starch?

No. Bread made from Australian white flour contains at least 8% protein. Compare this to milk with 3% and eggs 12%. The most important protein is gluten which stretches as the bread is baked to give a light, risen loaf. White bread has 50% of the thiamin, about the same amount of riboflavin, and 30% of the niacin and dietary fibre present in wholemeal bread. So it rates very well for nutrients.

Then What about Mixed Grain?

Mixed grain breads are made from a mixture of white and wholemeal flours, with whole or kibbled grains of wheat, rye corn or other cereals added to give a crunchy, grainy texture. The vitamin and fibre content generally falls between white and wholemeal bread, although some mixed grain reads have the same fibre content as wholemeal.

What is the Best Bread to Eat for Fibre?

All varieties of bread are good sources of dietary fibre.

White Bread 3%
Mixed Grain 5%
Wholemeal 8.5%


White fibre-increased bread contains the same amount of fibre as wholemeal bread. Wholemeal fibre-increased bread is even higher.  Regulations require that fibre in bread be labelled as crude fibre. This can be confusing since crude fibre does not measure all the components of fibre. Therefore it underestimates dietary fibre.

But isn’t Bread Fattening?

The table below shows some interesting comparisons.

Bread, average slice 250 kJ (60 calories)
Medium orange 300 kJ
Carton Apple juice 500 kJ
Small packet peanuts 580 kJ
Can Soft drink 670 kJ
Donut 1000 kJ


Of course, if you eat an excess of any food it can be fattening. Be careful what you put on bread. A small pat of butter or thin slice of cheese has the same number of kilojoules (calories) as one slice of bread. 

How much Bread Should I Eat?

A minimum of 4-5 slices each day is recommended for everyone. Active people and children need more. The Commonwealth Department of Health’s “Dietary Guidelines for Australians” advise us to eat more bread.

How do I increase my Bread Intake?

Why not use bread to make delicious healthy snacks? Take a slice of bread and spread it with peanut butter, or wrap it around a banana as an after-school snack. Children love bread, and a toasted sandwich is a winter warmer.

For dinner, a damper, roll or slices of bread will make your meal complete. Try different types of bread, a kibbled loaf, or a crusty French stick with sesame seeds. Muffins, crumpets and raisin bread also add variety.

Why do we need Sugar in Bread?

Yeast uses sugar as a food, so a small amount is often added to doughs. After baking only a trace remains.

Why are Preservatives used in Bread?

To allow bread to be kept in its best condition without spoilage by mould for a number of days, tiny amounts of mould-inhibiting agents, approved by the Australian Food Standards Code, are added.

Storage in a clean, ventilated bread bin or crock will also help to prevent moulds developing. For longer storage bread will keep well in the freezer if it is overwrapped in a freezer bag and frozen as quickly as possible.

How Do We Know What’s in Bread?

Bread sold in a wrapper must list the ingredients. Food regulations require items to be ranked from the largest by weight down to the smallest. Some labels have an analysis of nutrients such as carbohydrate, protein and also kilojoules. Regulations do not permit the addition of any artificial colour or flavours to bread.

How Much Salt?

Bread normally contains some salt (sodium chloride) and an average slice has about one tenth of a teaspoon. The function of salt in bread is not only to enhance flavour but to control yeast fermentation and to strengthen the gluten protein. For those people who need to reduce the salt in their diet, reduced-salt breads with 33% less salt and low-salt breads with 75% less salt are available. These breads may contain some potassium chloride in place of sodium chloride.

Is today’s bread as good as it used to be?

Bread today has a higher nutritional value. Flours contain more of the wheat grain due to improved wheat varieties and milling techniques, so the nutrient content is higher. Bread will now keep longer with little loss of quality. A greater variety of bread is available today in Australia, reflecting our changes in taste.