The Good, The Bad and the Ugly


We love it

We hate it

Here’s the low down on what’s good and what’s bad……….

As its Warburton’s National Bread week, I am picking on Warburton’s bread here, other brands are available 😉

Now I’m sure most of us know that brown bread is better  than white.  If I am being nitpicking actually brown is not necessarily much better than white bread at all but wholemeal is, certainly in terms of fibre content. It’s not all about fibre though – when it comes to bread we need to be looking at the salt and sugar content too; it may not be what you thought!

This is some of the information on their website:

Wholemeal bread (Warburton’s rich and tasty)

Wholemeal or wholewheat bread contains the wholegrain and hence all the goodness of the grain.  A whole kernal of wheat consists 3 parts:

  • The germ is rich in fibre and lots of nutrients – Vitamin E, folic acid, thiamin (vitamin B 1), zinc, magnesium and essential fatty acids 
  • The bran – this is also very rich in fibre.
  • The endosperm is the starchy carbohydrate store in the grain – this is what is ground down to make flour.

When white bread is made, the bran and the germ are removed, so most of the nutrients are too.


What we don’t always know (or can’t see easily) is actually how much wholegrain is actually in the product.  Wholegrain products can be identified by the ingredients list; Wheat flour, wholegrain wheat flour or whole-wheat flour can all be listed. But even if these are first on the ingredient list (and so is present in the greatest amount) it is still not a clear indicator of the specific product’s wholegrain content. 

1 medium thick slice of Warburton’s rich wholemeal (which has added rye fibre) provides

  • 109 Calories
  • 1.4g Sugars
  • 1.1g Fat
  • 0.2g Saturates
  • 0.45g Salt
  • 3.3g Fibre

But wholemeal is not all it’s cracked up to be – it has been shown that wholemeal (and brown) bread has quite a lot more added sugar in it. So although the rich wholemeal bread above is a great source of fibre at 3.3g a slice, it contains 1.4g sugar – that’s half a teaspoon in 2 slices.  Apparently they add it to counter the bitter taste of the wholemeal flour but I think it’s entirely unnecessary!

Brown Bread (Warburton’s premium brown)

Moving on to brown bread, this is not as good as it might first appear – it is not particularly high in fibre (1.1g a slice as below)  as brown bread is usually a 50:50 split between white and wholemeal flour. Some brown breads contain caramelised sugar or molasses to help give it it’s brown colour as we associate brown with a healthier type of bread.  I have a feeling this sugar is added just to ‘sweeten’ bread, so we buy more wholemeal and brown bread.  It’s not necessary in the production of bread as they don’t put this much sugar in white bread.  This is a sneaky manipulation of the product.  Certainly something we wouldn’t expect, so as a consumer we are being misled and this makes me angry!

  • 61 Calories
  • 1.2g Sugars
  • 0.9g Fat
  • 0.2g Saturates
  • 0.2g Salt
  • 1.1g Fibre

Half and half – is this a good compromise?

1 medium thick slice of ‘half and half’ (50% white, 50% wholemeal flour) provides

  • 90 Calories
  • 0.9g Sugars
  • 0.8g Fat
  • 0.1g Saturates
  • 0.38g Salt
  • 1.9g Fibre

This was produced as a healthier option than just white bread (it’s also better than the brown bread).  It’s particularly marketed to mums and dads with children that won’t don’t like the taste of brown or wholemeal.  In some respects its a good compromise but it only has an extra 0.7g fibre per slice which I still don’t think is a lot. You would need to eat 25 slices of this bread to get your recommended intake of fibre (18g/day).  I know you ‘would probably’ be eating other sources of fibre but most people are well under this target. The complete wholemeal breads that Warburton’s make contain between 2.6g- 3.3g which certainly is better.

Bog standard white bread

Well, this not just any bog standard white bread, it’s superthick white bread! If you like doorstop bread, I guess this is the bread for you. 1 super thick slice of white ‘toastie’ provides

  • 137 Calories
  • 1.3g Sugars
  • 1.2g Fat
  • 0.4g Saturates
  • 0.58g Salt
  • 1.5g Fibre

This is not small bread.  I am thinking of the TV advert for the Yorkie chocolate bar –  it’s not for girls. You’ve got to have a hearty appetite for this stuff. Having 2 slices will give you 274 Calories before you put anything anywhere near your bread. There will also be 1.16g salt, that’s about 1/5 of your daily allowance in these 2 slices too.  Combine this with half a tin of tomato soup (at 1.3g salt) or some cooked sliced ham (1g) and a covering of butter and you are over half your daily salt allowance of 6g. That’s without any crsips on the side, without any breakfast or evening meal or any snacks!

The ‘diet’ bread

1 slice of danish white provides

  • 63 Calories
  • 0.6g Sugars
  • 0.3g Fat
  • 0.1g Saturates
  • 0.26g Salt
  • 0.7g Fibre

This bread is marketed as a lighter choice because basically its fresh air! Many ‘dieters’ opt for this bread due to its low Calorie content. It is also very low in fibre, so there really is nothing of value in this bread and I doubt it will satisfy your hunger or stave off the munchies not long after you have eaten it.


So my advice is this:

1. Try to limit your bread intake to 3 average / medium slices – your diet should consist of a variety of carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes) and always try to include some wholemeal / wholegrain sources.  Watch your slice thickness if cutting it freehand yourself.

2. Go for a proper, good quality wholemeal bread. This is the best option of all the breads in terms of valuable nutrition (Warburton’s make (26 different loaves in total, never mind the rolls or bakery ‘snacks’ they make!). This doesn’t mean you can’t have any white bread – just don’t make it the bulk of your purchases.

3. Lighter, ‘diet’ bread is not necessary! I’ve just realised Warburton’s make all the Weight Watcher Bread. Don’t be fooled by this bread – just eat good quality ‘non diet foods’ you will be much better off both in terms of health and money in your pocket). Read my earlier post on The truth about low fat foods.

4. Check the label – Watch the salt content. While it is true that the salt content of some of the sliced breads has been reduced, they still contain~1.0g of salt per 100g or more.  The problem is that a little salt is preferable for flavour (I think). I’ve mentioned before I make my own bread – the beauty of this is you can control the salt you put in.  I have cut it down but don’t like the taste with no salt in at all, so I meet somewhere in the middle.  CASH (Consensus Action on Salt and Health) have a recipe each for low salt and salt free bread here so give them a whirl!  Seeded Low Salt Bread and No Salt Wholemeal Bread

If you try them, let me know what they are like! Or if you have any other recipes, please share 🙂

This post follows May we eat bread from last week (1st May 2014) so catch it here if you missed it.

Later this week I will post some of my bread creations I / my read maker made…………………


Penny for your thoughts........

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