Eating three or four slices of white bread per day puts you at a 40 per cent higher risk of becoming overweight or obese than eating just one portion a week, Spanish researchers have claimed.
In a study presented at the European Congress on Obesity, those who ate two 60 gram portions of white bread every day were at a significantly higher risk than those who had lower consumption.
The report’s author, nutritional expert Professor Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez of the University of Navarra, said that the findings made a strong case for people who eat bread with most meals to turn to wholegrain to cut their risk of gaining weight and harming their health.
Researchers studied the diets of more than 9,000 Spanish university graduates to assess the impact on a population where bread is a major part of the diet.
Those who ate more bread overall were not statistically more likely to become overweight or obese, but researchers did notice a higher risk for those who ate large amounts of white bread, compared to others whose consumption was small, or who ate only wholegrain bread.
“The issue is that white bread is made with highly refined flour which is rapidly absorbed as sugar,” said Professor Martinez-Gonzalez. “Essentially it is equivalent to a high consumption of sugar. The problem is similar to what we see with soft drinks, their sugars are rapidly transformed into fat an organism.”
White breads also lose their fibre content during the refining process, Professor Martinez-Gonzalez said.
“A sensible recommendation would be to switch to wholegrain bread, especially for people who usually consume a lot of bread,” he added.
The health benefits, or otherwise, of white bread has been a controversial issue for some time. Previous research has suggested a link between diets high in white bread consumption and an increased risk of heart disease. However, a paper by the British Nutrition Foundation two years ago maintained that white bread contained essential vitamins and was healthy.