Is Ezekiel Bread a Good Choice?
People these days are downright terrified of bread. Often, this fear trickles down to all the foods in the simple carbohydrate family: rice, pasta, corn, tortillas, or any type of flour-based food. While it may be one way to cut calories, this tendency to shun all grains is also depriving you of some key nutrients.
What's in a Loaf?
No matter what people claim we should or should not be eating, we have been grinding grains into flour, cooking them and consuming them for over 10,000 years. The origin of bread may go back as far as 30,000 years into our past, but there is definitive evidence primitive people were cooking bread by 14,500, B.C. By the dawn of agriculture, bread was a staple.
Most basic breads are made by blending a grain flour with yeast and water, then baked. The grain can be wheat, oat, corn, barley, rye, millet – you name it, every grain has been baked into bread at some point. The grain is pulverized into a fine dust (aka, a flour) and mixed with a liquid to create a dough.
In the past, this dough could simply be left out to attract naturally occurring wild yeast particles that float through the air. Or, sometimes, they used the byproducts of beer-brewing to give the dough some leavening and flavor.
Think about how much beer and bread our ancestors consumed, blissfully unaware of how terrified they were supposed to be about “carbs.”
Bread was great because it was cheap, simple, and once baked, could last quite some time sitting out. Once it was stale, it could be toasted or turned into breadcrumbs. It provided sustenance, energy, and was a good source of magnesium, iron, selenium, B vitamins, and dietary fiber.
As time progressed, so did our breadmaking skills. We use all kinds of grain blends in our bread. We have captured and bred the quickest yeasts. We sometimes add eggs, milk, oils, and other ingredients as well. We’ve experimented with texture, structure, design, and flavor, resulting in both beautiful and delicious works of art with these simple ingredients.
We’ve also immortalized the doughnut, the pretzel, and the basket of “endless breadsticks.” And, in so doing, we’ve also created an addiction to simple carbohydrates.
Why Did Bread Become the Devil?
The wonderful thing about bread is it is actually good for you. It provides fiber and nutrients. The not-so-wonderful thing about bread is that we eat too much of it.
Back in the days of our ancestors washing down hunks of bread with beer, there was a lot of physical activity going on and they did not eat anywhere near the amount of food we currently take for granted. In other words, they did not generally live in a caloric surplus. Food was a necessity, not leisure.
Also, over the years, whole grains became less desirable in favor of ultra-soft and spongy white bread. Flour became bleached and processed, and its healthful vitamins and much of its fiber was destroyed in the process. So, we added vitamins to make up for it. We added unnecessary sugars.
Then, we brought politics into the mix and created the food pyramid, which showcased its wide base of grains, which were now supposed to be the mainstay of our diet. People ate cereals for breakfast, bread and simple carbohydrate-loaded snacks at lunch, pasta – with breadsticks – at dinner, doughnuts and cakes as a treat.
In other words, the caloric load shot through the roof and activity levels went down.
People began to blame bread for its gluten and starch, because as bread consumption rose, so did cases of celiac disease and wheat intolerance. Bread became the enemy – and white flour, the devil itself.
Do I “Knead” Bread?
Bread should not be feared, it should simply be managed.
People who should steer clear of bread are those with allergies, intolerances, and those diagnosed with celiac disease. Does it hurt your stomach to consume bread? Does it make you feel sick? Then, don’t eat it.
But if you are just afraid of weight gain, or swept up in “inflammation” panic, you can relax, take a breath, and feel free to enjoy some grainy goodness.
While the occasional doughnut or slice of white bread won’t hurt you, it’s better to choose a loaf with more quality nutrition and fewer calories. Look for whole grains, which not only contain good fiber, but they also offer more naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.
Some bread companies are jumping on the trend to pack their breads with nutrition. Ezekiel Bread, for example, not only uses whole grains, but it also adds soybeans and lentils, which contain nutrients grain alone does not.
Ezekiel Bread also uses sprouted grains. Why are sprouted grains so special? They are much higher in protein. Sprouting lentils increases protein by 50% and also contains each of the nine essential amino acids. This is great news for people looking to get extra protein into their diet wherever they can.
Because this type of bread has elevated protein content and it does not use any preservatives or added sugars, its shelf life is compromised. These loaves are often found in the frozen section, to retain their nutrients. Some people even keep them frozen after they buy it, and simply pull out slices to toast, as desired. That way, it lasts for a very long time.
Calories are also a big component to consider when choosing your go-to slice. Thick cut white breads with added sugars can be higher in calories than you think, plus they lack the fiber which slows the digestion of sugars.
Besides, people don’t generally binge on whole-grain bread. They eat what goes down easily and doesn’t fill them up, like – you guessed it – enriched white flour products that are higher in sugars. I’ve never met someone who has said, “Man, I really overdid it on the seven-grain sprouted rye last night…”
The best way to consume bread is in moderation. Make the most nutritionally dense choice first. And every once in a while, if it suits you after your long day toiling in the wheat fields, you can go ahead and wash it down with a beer.