Sorry, Low-Carb Dieters! Here Are 7 Science-Backed Reasons You Should Eat More Bread
Put down your lettuce wraps—it’s perfectly healthy to indulge those carb cravings.
You'll have more energy
Yes, bread is a carb. But repeat after us: Carbs aren't necessarily bad for you, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, author of The Superfood Swap. The right kind provides long-lasting energy throughout the day, as well as a slew of other health benefits. "Don’t ditch all bread," says Blatner. "The white stuff is overly processed and missing important nutrients like fiber." Plus, it causes blood sugar levels to quickly skyrocket and crash. But "whole grain versions are less processed and have more fiber." Nutritionists want you to eat these healthy carbs.
You'll be healthier overall
Young, old, male, or female, eating whole wheat bread has a huge range of health benefits. A review of studies published in 2016 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that whole-grain carbs can reduce your risks of dying from any cause, cardiovascular disease, or cancer. You’ll get the most benefits from consuming at least three servings of whole grains a day, but just one daily serving alone still has the power to reduce your risk of chronic diseases.
You'll live longer
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health discovered a link between a diet rich in whole grains and risk of death. Their results, published in 2015 in JAMA Internal Medicine, showed that whole grain consumption lowered the overall risk of death, especially from cardiovascular disease, in both men and women. "These findings further support current dietary guidelines that recommend increasing whole grain consumption… and also provide promising evidence that suggests a diet enriched with whole grains may confer benefits toward extended life expectancy," the study’s authors wrote. Translation: Grains are good for you, so eat up!
You'll feel happier
Feeling down? Have a sandwich. The carbs increase the brain’s levels of feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, which boosts your mood and curbs cravings for unhealthier snacks like sweets. It’s a two-for-one deal: you’ll reduce your stress and anxiety while also slimming your waistline.
You'll lose weight
Whole-grain bread is high in dietary fiber, which has loads of weight loss benefits. For one, fiber expands to fill your stomach, meaning you will feel full faster and consume fewer calories in one sitting. And since it’s a complex carb, the whole wheat will digest more slowly, keeping you feeling satisfied long after you’ve walked away from the table. Plus, fiber prevents blood sugar spikes and crashes during the day, so you won’t be reaching for a candy bar midway through the afternoon for a quick sugar boost. These are signs your diet is missing out on fiber.
You'll regulate your bathroom trips
Fiber is also helpful for another bodily function: bowel movements. Whole grain carbs keep your digestive system on track and waste moving through your body in a consistent cycle. Yet only about five percent of Americans include enough fiber in their day-to-day eating habits, according to a study published in 2017 in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. Your whole grain intake can be a major player in getting your recommended dose of 28 grams of fiber a day, keeping constipation at bay. "Check ingredient lists to see that the bread is actually made with 'whole' grains," says Blatner. "Sprouted grain breads have more absorbable protein, vitamins and minerals and may be even easier to digest." Here are other home remedies for constipation.
- Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, author of The Superfood Swap.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Whole-Grain Intake and Total, Cardiovascular, and Cancer Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies."
- JAMA Internal Medicine: "Whole Grain Intake and Mortality: Two Large Prospective Studies in U.S. Men and Women."
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Making One Change — Getting More Fiber — Can Help With Weight Loss."
- American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine: "Closing America’s Fiber Intake Gap."
- National Institutes of Health, "Biotin."
- Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience: "How to Increase Serotonin in the Human Brain Without Drugs."