Professor Rafael Llorach Ramon Cajal led a study that identified the health benefits of eating bread and how its consumption is linked to a healthier lipid profile, resulting in overall better cardiovascular health.
A healthier lipid profile means that a person has lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol).
The researchers were able to analyze the effects of daily bread (white and whole wheat) consumption across a sample of 275 elderly volunteers who were at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Their findings showed that those who ate bread on a daily basis had healthier lipid profiles and lower insulin levels than those who didn't - meaning that they were at a lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
The researchers also identified the metabolite involved in lipid metabolism (related to PPAR-alfa activity) which caused the change in lipid levels. This was found to be higher among those who ate whole wheat bread.
Daily bread consumption appears to protect from cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance
Professor Rafael Llorach said
"the data obtained in the study indicates that daily bread consumption, especially wholemeal bread, as an element of a balanced diet, is associated with a healthier lipid profile and lower insulin blood concentrations".
Co-director and head of the Research Group on Biomarkers and Nutritional and Food Metabolomics, Cristina Andrés-Lacueva, added
"the metabolomics study drove us to identify the positive effects that bread consumption has on the lipid profile".
Bread consumption must be daily, not sporadically, for cardiovascular benefitsAn important point to note about this study is that healthier lipid profiles were found among those who consumed bread daily, not sporadically. It also revealed that lower insulin levels were found among those who consumed bread daily, helping to prevent the development of insulin resistance (when cells are unable to respond to insulin) which is associated with a high risk of cardiovascular disease.
"This is a really important data, when the body does not answer in a correct way to the insulin's action, glucose cannot reach the inner part of cells and it is accumulated in blood".
The researchers also found that there is no relationship between an increase in body weight and eating bread - a high carbohydrate food - on a consistent, daily basis.
Bread research and various findings
- A study published in the International Journal of Cancer (October 2006 issue) found that people who eat a lot of bread are much more likely to develop kidney cancer, compared to those who eat little bread.
- Adding folate to bread may lower depression rates - researchers from the University of York and Hull York Medical School, both in England, suggested that adding folate to bread may help reduce depression rates on a national scale. Folate, a vitamin which comes from vegetables, can help reduce the risk of developing depression, or may alleviate existing depressive symptoms. Low folate levels have been linked to depression.
- High salt intake in the USA caused by bread consumption - Americans are consuming too much salt. More salt in the average American diet comes from bread than from salty snacks like popcorn, pretzels or potato chips. Even though the salty snacks taste saltier, and weight for weight do contain more salt than bread, Americans eat much more bread, resulting in very high salt intake from bread.