Friday 01 November 2019
Dark bread has more nutrients than white bread, which also makes it fat. And spelled is healthier than wheat. These myths about cereals persist. But what is right?
Oat muesli, wholemeal pasta or mixed wheat bread – cereals of various shapes appear almost at every meal. But what is particularly healthy and what labels should consumers pay attention to? Experts give advice.
There is no better grain, as nutritionists agree. "The distinction is how much flour is ground," says Harald Seitz of the Federal Center for Nutrition. The type of meal is decisive. There are finely ground and ground flours. Whole flours are ground: they contain the germ, the shell and the endosperm and therefore healthier ingredients. In white flour they are no longer.
Brilliant sandwiches are not the culprit
This is why wheat-based products have a bad reputation. "The demonization of wheat is modern," says Seitz. Especially the consumption of light sandwiches or baguettes should have a negative effect on the weight, says the vernacular. These products are made with finely ground flours such as Type 405 flour. These contain carbohydrates as much as other flours, says Seitz.
However, these are relatively free of ingredients. They contain a lot of starch and this consists of sugar chains. If the starch divides after consumption, the level of insulin in the body increases, but then decreases rapidly. The result: you are hungry again and start eating again. This re-consumption is the behavior that can lead to weight gain, not to the grain products themselves.
The same thing happens when you eat whole grain products. "But since there are other fibers besides starch, the insulin level decreases much more slowly and we stay full longer," says Seitz. Because of these extra ingredients, whole grain products are healthier.
The exterior can be deceiving
Not all dark or wheat-containing breads are wholemeal bread. From a purely visual point of view, the content of baked goods cannot always be clearly concluded. Therefore, the German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends that you always look closely. The term "integral" is protected by law. Products with this label must contain at least 90 percent of whole wheat flour or flour.
Baked goods are sometimes obscured, says Monika Bischoff, nutritionist at the Center for Nutritional Medicine and Prevention at the Barmherzige Brüder Hospital in Munich. Many customers think that black bread is automatically healthier – this is the manufacturer's idea. The malt extract or sugar beet syrup in the list of contents can be an indication of such tricks.
Multigrain product: mixture of at least three types of flour
For other ingredients, however, it cannot be deceived: in the guidelines of the German food book for bread and biscuits, whose composition can be called multigrain. A multigrain product is a mixture of at least three types of flour. However, each contained variety must be represented with at least five percent.
The name Dreikorn contains three different types of wheat based on the name. Another distinction is the mixed bread. Mixed rye bread, for example, is composed of at least 50 percent and a maximum of 90 percent rye flour and at least one other cereal.
Prevent diseases with whole grains
In its ten dietary rules, the DGE recommends using whole grains as often as possible due to the fiber. These can reduce the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, lipid metabolism disorders, colon cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The minimum recommended amount is 30 grams of fiber per day. There are about four slices of whole wheat bread.
The human intestinal flora needs fibers, says Monika Bischoff. "Especially the oats, which are very precious." These are the beta-glucans that can lower cholesterol. "But overall, of course, many more minerals are included – just like the B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium and phytochemicals, so the nutritionist.
Spelled healthier than wheat?
A common myth is that spelled is healthier than wheat. It's true? "This is a very exciting question," says nutritionist professor Stephan Bischoff from the University of Hohenheim. "Because some people who think they can't tolerate wheat say: Dinkel is doing better." This was scientifically but not yet proven.
Since the nutritionist listens to this statement quite often, he is currently conducting a study with his team. But there are no results yet.
Variety is the secret
Eating gluten-free is currently trendy. But is it healthy? "There is only one group that deals with gluten – they are celiac patients – otherwise gluten is not bad," says Monika Bischoff. On the contrary, there are already many studies that highlight risks: for example, those who eat gluten-free may have significant problems with digestion. Because the body therefore gets less fiber.
"We have been world champions in variation for decades," says Seitz, referring to bread and sweets. That's why you don't always have to take whole grains. "Boring as it may seem: eat different", he advises. The body gets exactly what it needs. Everyone should therefore eat what they want – and not just what is considered healthy.