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Bread is Back! Or So Hopes the Industry

Grain Foods Foundation launches pro-bread campaign

FRIDAY, Feb. 4, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Breadaholics, rejoice. Then pass the breadbasket, please. Your favorite food is making a comeback, or so hopes the industry.

This week, the Grain Foods Foundation, a newly formed group of milling and baking companies, launched a "public education" campaign to fight back against the skip-the-bread trend linked to the Atkins, Zone and other high-protein, low-carb diets.

"We're trying to get people to come back to common sense," said Judi Adams, a dietitian and president of the foundation. "Fad diets may work short term, but not long-term."

Among their key points: grain-based carbohydrates aren't the problem in obesity; diets that restrict whole categories of food such as breads aren't feasible over the long term; and grain products are good sources of vitamins, mineral, fiber and other healthy substances.

The grain foundation is also hoping, of course, to boost stale bread sales. The consumption of wheat flour, commonly found in bread, is down -- from 147 pounds per person per year in the United States in 1997, to just 136 pounds in 2003, said Adams.

While the campaign isn't meant to condemn any particular diet, Adams said, the industry hopes the public will realize the role bread can play in a healthful diet.

Clearly, there is some educating to do, as a survey of more than 2,000 adults conducted for the foundation by Harris Interactive in late December suggests. Almost one in five women aged 35 to 44 said they thought bread was fattening or unhealthful, for instance.

Americans' love affair with bread continues, although their passion for grains seems to wane with age. While 64 percent of respondents 18 to 34 years of age said they loved bread, just 39 percent of those 55 and up agreed.

And Adams said that, despite claims to the contrary, eating bread can even help folks lose weight. "Bread, especially whole grain, does actually make people feel fuller sooner," she said.

Other dietitians not involved in the campaign concede that bread has a place in a healthy diet, but they also offered some caveats to breadaholics.

If you're drifting back to bread, it's still all about portion control, said Cathy Nonas, an American Dietetic Association (ADA) spokeswoman and director of the obesity and diabetes program at North General Hospital in New York City. "You still have to stay away from the bread basket or at least manage it."

Portions of bread are often huge and have gotten bigger in recent years, Nonas noted. "A typical bagel is no longer equal to two slices of bread, it's equal to four or six slices."

Like other dietitians, Nonas and Adams suggested that if you're on a 2,000-calorie-a- day diet, you should aim to eat three ounces of whole grains (from bread and other foods) and three ounces of other grains recommended by new U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines.

Whole grains means the grain has not been refined or processed. To find them, the first ingredient on the label should say 100 percent whole wheat or whole grain. Grains that are not whole, called refined, are ideally enriched with niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, iron and sometimes calcium, dietitians said.

To keep your bread intake within healthy bounds, Nonas tells her clients to ask themselves; "Where is bread most important to you?" If you love your morning toast, go for it. If you'd rather have dinner rolls and could care less about toast, skip the morning bread.

"One slice of bread is a serving," Nonas said. "If you are only eating bread as your grains and you are paying attention to weight control, you should have no more than six servings." If you are not trying to lose weight, have six to nine servings, she suggested. "That goes quickly considering serving sizes," she said.

Make half of your grains whole grains, advised Katherine Tallmadge, a registered dietitian in Washington, D.C., and another ADA spokeswoman. And she thinks mixing up a daily combination of oats, rye and wheat is best.

"I worry about people who don't get any grains in their day," she said. But Tallmadge also stressed that moderation is key. On a recent trip to the grocery store, she discovered that the seven-inch submarine sandwich on sale included six ounces of bread. That's roughly 480 calories, she said. "And that is the amount of bread you should be eating the whole day."

More information

To learn more about whole grains, visit the American Dietetic Association.

SOURCES: Judi Adams, R.D., dietitian and president, Grain Foods Foundation, Ridgway, Colo.; Katherine Tallmadge, R.D., Washington, D.C., and spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association; Cathy Nonas, R.D., director, obesity and diabetes programs, North General Hospital, New York City, and spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association
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