S’pore Dietician: Wholemeal Bread Is In The Same Food Group As Instant Noodles & Sausages

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I‘m sure most of us who read the headline must’ve been like, wait, what? Isn’t wholemeal bread supposed to be healthy?

Most of us were probably brought up to believe that wholemeal or wholegrain, in general, is always the ‘healthier’ option.

Or could this just be another diet fad?

Even our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong revealed during the National Day Rally in 2017 that he watches his diet by choosing wholemeal instead of white bread.

Plot twist: Perhaps wholemeal bread isn’t as healthy as you thought it was.

S’pore Dietician: Wholemeal Bread Is In The Same Food Group As Instant Noodles & Sausages

Now, wait just a minute. Are you telling me that all the times I ate wholemeal bread instead of white bread and felt good about myself was all a lie?

According to Channel News Asia, this is most certainly the case.

It doesn’t matter if it’s wholemeal, multigrain or even regular white mass-produced bread. The aforementioned are all regarded and defined as ultra-processed food.

Not even processed food okay, it’s ULTRA-processed food.

My face right now:

Image: Meme

Wait, it gets worse. Bread, even wholemeal bread belong in the same category as sausages and instant noodles.

I don’t need this kinda drama in my life. 

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Senior principal dietician Gladys Wong from Khoo Tech Puat Hospital said, “They’ve got a lot more additives and emulsifiers, or different kinds of stabilisers, to extend the shelf life of the bread.”

Wholemeal Bread Goes Through A lot of Industrial Processing

Image: Giphy

So what kind of food is deserving of the title of “ultra-processed food”?

Well, it refers to foods that have undergone “substantial industrial processing and typically contain high amounts of sugar, salt and saturated fat.”

Simply put, they’re really not good for you.

These extra not-so-good ingredients help to make the bread texture softer and enhance flavour.

How To Identify Additives On Ingredient List

And if you’re wondering how you can identify these not-so-good additives on the ingredient list, they usually start with “E”.

For example, E200 to E299 are preservatives, E300 to E399 are antioxidants and E400 to 499 are thickeners, emulsifiers and stabilisers.

A simple rule of thumb, if your food “can last very long” it “probably has got a lot more additives.”

Other foods that have the pleasure of being classified as ultra-processed food include chocolate and breakfast cereals.

It’s also important to note that though some bread may be labelled as wholemeal, at times only 30% of the bread is actually made out of wholemeal flour, as in the case of some BreadTalk bread.

Healthier Alternatives

If you’re a self-proclaimed health junkie who wants to throw the wholemeal bread sitting on your table out the window upon reading this, fret not.

I’ve got some alternatives for you.

Try going for sprouted wheat bread which contains wheat germ, bran and high fibre. You can also try rye bread which contains four times as much fibre as white bread and 20% less calories.

Good stuff.