Is Bread Healthy to Eat?

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that women eat at least five to six servings of grains per day and men eat between six and eight servings. Of these, half should consist of whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread. Bread provides some essential nutrients, but the type of bread you choose is important because some breads are healthier than others.

Nutrition Facts

When it comes to the basic nutrition facts, most breads are similar. For example, white bread, oatmeal bread and whole-grain bread have about 69 to 74 calories per slice, along with about 1 gram of fat, 2 to 4 grams of protein and 11 to 14 grams of carbohydrates. The main difference among these breads is their fiber content. White bread only has about 0.8 gram of fiber per slice, while whole-grain bread has about 1.9 grams of fiber, or 8 percent of the daily value. Oatmeal bread falls somewhere in between these two breads, with 1.1 grams of fiber per slice. Getting plenty of fiber in your diet may help lower your risk for high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Vitamin Content

White bread is often enriched with added B vitamins. It has about 10 percent of the daily value for thiamine and 8 percent of the DV for folate in each slice. Each slice of oatmeal bread has 7 percent of the DV for thiamine and 4 percent of the DV for folate. Whole-grain bread isn't usually enriched, so it is lower in the B vitamins, with 5 percent of the DV for folate and thiamine. You need thiamine and folate for turning the food you eat into energy.

Mineral Content

Whole-grain bread is the best source of minerals, with 12 percent of the DV for selenium and 26 percent of the DV for manganese. White bread and oatmeal bread both have about 9 percent of the DV for selenium, but oatmeal bread has more manganese, with 13 percent of the DV in each slice compared to 8 percent of the DV in white bread. Selenium and manganese both act as antioxidants to help prevent cell damage from compounds called free radicals.

Potential Health Benefits

Eating at least three servings of whole-grain foods, such as whole-grain breads, may help lower your risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes by 20 percent to 30 percent, according to an article published in "Public Health Nutrition" in December 2011. This isn't the case with foods made from refined grains, such as white bread. Another study, published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in December 2007, found that eating refined grains may increase your risk for diabetes.