Bread is a staple in the diet of most Singaporeans. What are the key ingredients you should pay attention to when buying bread, in order to reap the maximum health benefits? Ms Wong Hui Mei, Senior Dietitian at the Department of Dietetics​ and the LIFE Centre, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group, shares some tips.

When buying bread, it is best to...​​​​​

1. Go for wholemeal bread

The key word to look out for is “whole”. You can be sure that the bread is wholemeal if the first ingredient listed is “100 per cent wholemeal flour”, “100 per cent whole wheat flour” or “100 per cent whole grain”.

2. Choose breads with higher fibre content

The fibre content is higher in wholemeal bread than in white bread because fibre is removed during the refining process in the production of white bread. There is approximately 1.5 g of fibre in two regular slices (~60 g) of white bread, approximately 3 g in 2 slices of high-fibre white bread and approximately 4 g fibre in 2 slices of wholemeal bread.

Fibre is a food component that promotes good health in many ways. There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre dissolves in water whilst insoluble fibre does not. Insoluble fibre adds bulk and softness to stools and thus helps promote regularity and prevent constipation. As for soluble fibre, it helps lower blood cholesterol levels and regulates the body’s use of sugars.

Other than its benefit in reducing the risk for some chronic diseases, high fibre contained in wholemeal bread may be useful for people who wish to lose weight. With its added bulk, fibre provides a feeling of fullness, making one less inclined to nibble too soon after eating.

3. Check the sodium content

Sodium is needed to activate the yeast particles in the baking process and to enhance the flavour of the bread. As some breads contain high amounts of sodium per slice, it is important to check the sodium content.

Two slices of white or wholemeal bread (~60 g) may have over 200 mg of sodium. Eating just four slices of bread will contribute 400 mg of sodium to your daily recommended allowance of 2,000 mg of sodium.

The good news is that there are also breads with 200 mg of sodium or less per serving (~60 g for 2 slices). Please check the sodium content from the Nutrition Information Panel and choose a bread with less sodium for your own good health.

Need help adopting a better lifestyle? The LIFE Centre at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) has a multidisciplinary team of experts who can provide you with guidance on weight management, exercise and diet.

Ref: O17​