Toast isn’t better for you than plain bread, but if you’re unwell or have digestive problems, it’s a wise choice.
Dr Niket Sonpal insists that toasting bread doesn’t “kill nutrients or lower its nutritional value. Vitamins and minerals are still within the bread”.
And clinical dietitian Melanie Jones confirmed that toasting bread does not change its calorie content.
The marginal difference is in digestibility.
Nutritional site mindbodygreen.com says toasting breaks down the complex carbohydrate starch as the bread’s water level decreases, making it easier to digest. It takes longer for our bodies to break down complex carbs. The same breakdown process leaves toasted bread with a slightly lower glycemic index (GI), says Dr Jess Cording.
Lifestyle experts pmcaonline.org say this makes toast a better choice for diabetics, as it may not raise their blood sugar levels as much. But it’s marginal and the choice of bread is more important than whether it is crisp and browner.
“I most often find myself recommending sprouted-grain bread,” says Cording. “The sprouting process breaks down the grains’ starches, making them easier to digest because they are, essentially, predigested when you eat them.”
Medical site medicalnewstoday.com says toast is useful for people with digestive issues and can help reduce heartburn. It agrees that the choice of bread is all important.
“Whole-wheat bread is more healthful than white bread but is high in fibre and can be difficult for some people to eat.
“If a person has trouble digesting whole-wheat toast, the first step is to try it plain without butter. For additional flavour, choose fruit jellies over creamy spreads, such as nut butter.
“Thin slices of plain, white toast without spreads may be the best option for some people.
“Those with an intolerance to wheat or gluten can choose a wheat-free or gluten-free bread option.”
If you don’t have digestive issues, tipdsandtricks.co advises that foods that are easier to digest are filling for a shorter time.
“Most people’s stomachs and intestines function a lot better if they have to work a little harder, because this causes better digestion and bowel movements … If you decide to toast a slice of bread, it’s best to go for wholegrain bread. Your intestines will be put to work and you’ll feel full for longer.”
The bottom line is that there is not enough difference in the nutritional value between toast and fresh bread to warrant choosing one over the other.
Just make sure you don’t burn your toast.
Dr Cording explains, “When foods are heated to high temperatures, a potentially carcinogenic compound called acrylamide forms from the starches and amino acids (arginine) present in food.”
If your bread is at all charred, “there’s more of a chance that some acrylamide was formed,” she says. So, make sure your bread is toasted until golden brown at most, rather than dark brown or even black.
Read more: The benefits of drinking enough water
If you’re worried about your weight, it’s the topping applied, such as butter or jams, that matters.
How many calories for toppings on one slice of toast?
- plain toast: 85 calories
- butter (5 grams) 116. But 5g is around what a tiny hotel package of butter holds; you most likely use way more at home
- jam 125
- hummus 131
- honey 136
- cream cheese 145
- avocado 145
- Nutella 164
- cheese 184
- peanut butter 205
- fried egg 281
Best uses of toast
Against diarrhoea and upset stomachs
Toast adds bulk to your stool, making it more likely you will have a normal bowel movement. It is the ‘T’ in the anti-diarrhoea diet BRAT, which comprises bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These plain foods supply energy and nutrition without upsetting the stomach because they are easier to break down.
Milk toast helps stop vomiting. “Using one cup of milk, one piece of toast, and butter, you can create an acid absorbing and stomach coating treatment,” says lorecentral.org. Just don’t go for this tactic if you have stomach flu, which reacts badly with dairy products.
Toasted bread contains starch, a proven energy source. Hence our urge to consume it for breakfast when we’re looking for a kickstart.
What happens when you toast bread?
“Toasting a slice of fresh bread kick starts a chain of biochemical reactions. As the bread is heated on the toaster irons, the moisture inside evaporates and the surface of the bread begins to turn brown thanks to a chemical reaction known as the Maillard Reaction. The reduced water content and heating of the bread makes it have a different texture when toasted, making it crunchy instead of fluffy. The reduced water content also makes toast a little lighter than bread.” – pmcaonline.org
Read more: How to make sure sandwiches are not boring
How much toast do you eat in a regular week?
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