BAKING BREAD AT HOME: A healthy alternative to store-bought bread

Those who already bake bread at home probably do it for the taste, sense of accomplishment, and for being able to eat it at the peak of freshness, but homemade bread also provides a healthy alternative to most store-bought versions.  When you make your own bread you have a number of ingredient options and control over which ingredients you include. It also means you can eat a more natural product than the one you would buy at the grocery store. Here are some tips on making healthy homemade bread.

Keep your ingredient list simple

Bread at its most basic includes only flour, yeast, salt and water, whereas the bread you buy at the store can have multiple ingredients, including ones we have no knowledge of or can’t even pronounce. Some of these include preservatives like calcium propionate, which some people have adverse reactions to and has been linked to ADD in children. Though for the most part preservatives aren’t considered harmful in the correct quantity, by making your bread at home, you can ensure that you know exactly what you’re consuming.

Minimize the sugar

By making homemade bread, you control the amount and type of sugar you use, which is great if you’re looking to minimize the sugar in your diet or would like to replace traditional sugars with more nutritious sweeteners like honey. Some bread recipes include as little as 1 ½ tablespoons of molasses and no other sweetener. Other bread recipes don’t include any sugar or sweetener at all.

Choose healthier flours

Baking your own bread means you have numerous options for the flours you bake with. Rye, whole wheat and unbleached all-purpose flours are just a few choices. For example, rye flour is high in fibre, lowers type 2 diabetes risk, and helps to fight cancer and heart disease. Furthermore, if you happen to be gluten-intolerant, there are several gluten-free flours you can use including  rice, buckwheat and nut flours.

One kind of flour to be aware of is your typical all-purpose flour, which is chemically bleached, and also happens to be common in store-bought breads. Flour tends to be bleached for cosmetic reasons, to make the flour look perfectly white, but a by-product of the bleaching process is alloxan, which has apparently been found to cause diabetes in experimental animals and could be harmful to humans as well. To avoid consumption of alloxan, bake your bread at home with flour that you’ve chosen yourself. Be sure to buy the bag of flour labelled “unbleached all-purpose flour” instead of the regular and bake your way to health.

photo courtesy rofi (CC-BY-SA)