I like to enjoy my food, but I also I want to be sure that what I eat is ’good’ for me. Of course, no single type of food is ever going to be good or bad, it’s a question of how it fits into our overall food intake.
Bread is special because it has been our number one source of energy for many generations, but what is its role in our diet today? Clearly, it has changed, and its consumption is now influenced by lifestyle, rather than the need for energy.
Health, however, is still important. In recent times, the only commonly accepted negative to emerge has been its salt content, but it is good to see the moves made by bakers to reduce this to levels agreed with health experts.
The most interesting recent development has been the use of bread as a carrier for health-promoting ingredients. From wholemeal loaves and slimmers’ bread in the ’60s and ’70s, we have evolved to the wide range of products now available, containing many types of fibres and other grains and cereals. In fact, in the US, wholegrain products have been a major stimulus for growth of this sector. We even have products that are reported to reduce our cholesterol levels and possibly affect our glycaemic index (GI).
And it isn’t just bakers who have this idea. Many governments, including our own, are considering fortifying flour with folic acid, to help reduce certain birth defects.
These are exciting times and, as an industry, we are fortunate to have a product that plays such an important role in the health of the nation.