What is Meal Bread? The Complete Guide
What is meal bread? Meal bread, commonly referred to as wholemeal bread, is made using entirely or partly milled flour. The flour can be from whole or almost-whole wheat grains. Meal bread is a kind of brown bread and also goes by other names such as wholegrain bread in the UK and wheat bread in the USA.
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Meal bread can also be prepared using other flour ingredients such as soy flour and rye flour. The only consideration in such cases is that the flour has to be from milled whole grains. Some bakers prefer to mix in the soy flour with whole grain wheat flour, giving the bread better volume as well as crumb softness.
Meal Bread vs. Wholemeal Bread
The difference in naming between meal bread and wholemeal bread is a cultural difference. Whereby the meal bread title is used in the States while in Europe the same loaf is referred to as wholemeal bread.
Why is this bread referred to as a ‘meal’?
Well, it has something to do with the type of flour used to prepare the loaves. Raw wheat germ is milled to produce the required whole wheat flour. Historically brown bread was what remained after the sifting of the grain from the outer bran. This remaining flour was course, and when baked it would produce chewy loaves that were also dense. It was termed as a ‘meal,’.
Why the brown color?
Meal bread gets its brownish hue from cerealine, which is an active principle or ferment found in the bran. This explains why other white varieties lack the brownish color as they do not contain the bran part of wheat seeds.
Health Benefits of Meal Bread
One of the health recommendations that USDA insists on is the need to consume grains on a daily basis. The specialists even insist that at least half your daily consumption should be whole grains. This is because whole seeds are packed with natural nutrients that are critical in your body from vitamins to plant-based proteins (link).
1. Rich Source Of Fiber
Meal bread is prepared using whole wheat flour, it contains enormous amounts of both soluble and insoluble fibers. Insoluble fiber helps in maintaining a healthy digestive system and aids in bowel movement. Meal bread prepared using oats, bulgur, and barley contains high amounts of soluble fiber, which helps in lowering cholesterol levels as well as controlling blood sugar levels. Meal bread also keeps us fuller for longer because fiber gets digested slowly.
2. Helps in Alleviating Digestion Related Issues
Studies have shown that consumption of meal bread can help alleviate irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive issues. IBS is characterized by irregular bowel habits and abdominal discomfort. The grains also contain lactic acid responsible for promoting good bacteria in the intestines.
3. Lowering Heart Disease Risks
Triglycerides and excessive cholesterol in the bloodstream are the two major contributors to heart disease. One study found that a daily intake of whole grain products lowers the likelihood of having a heart attack by almost 30% (link).
Studies indicate that whole grain bread has a lower glycemic load compared to white. This plus the lower caloric density helps in reducing the chances of developing hypertension and cardiovascular disease by almost 25%.
4. Helps in Reducing the Probability of Developing Type 2 Diabetes
Wholemeal bread has a lower glycemic index, meaning that its consumption does not affect blood glucose levels as much as refined carbohydrates (white bread) do. Meal bread also contains enzymes that have been linked to reducing the chances of developing type 2 diabetes, although it's still not well understood just how they act. Meal bread also takes longer to digest and hence the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream is also at a slower rate and for a prolonged period of time (link).
5. Improved Mood and Mental Abilities
Your mood and mental alertness are directly related to your blood sugar levels. Meal bread releases carbohydrates over a more extended period of time compared to white bread. As a result, your body has a constant supply of the right amount of carbs all day.
This means blood sugar should not drop suddenly, which causes one to feel irritable, tired, and even in some cases, depressed. Meal bread is especially recommended for breakfast as it offers enough energy until lunchtime due to the slow energy release.
6. Rich Source of Vitamins and Minerals
Meal bread contains additional vitamins and minerals, especially those found in the bran and germ. These include B vitamins, such as riboflavin and thiamine. Thiamin is necessary for the conversion of glucose into energy and also plays a vital role in the nerve function hence supporting the development of a healthy nervous system. Riboflavin, on the other hand, is critical in skin health and also helps in the development of vision.
Wholemeal bread contains critical minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and sodium. These aid in the formation of healthy bones to replace worn-out red blood cells.
7. Help in Reducing Inflammation and Certain Allergies
Wholemeal bread has been found to help ward off allergic conditions such as asthma in children who were introduced to such diets in early infant growth stages. This is backed by more research that seems to suggest that consuming whole grains does, in fact, reduce markers of inflammation, especially in the gut.
Consumption of whole grains has been associated with the reduction of levels of C-reactive proteins, which is one of the markers of inflammation. The same molecule is also linked to other conditions such as preeclampsia and even fertility problems.
Meal Bread and Weight Loss
Weight loss tips and guides have become so complicated that its nearly impossible to identify a specific diet plan that actually works. Well, meal bread does help in losing weight but to get a clear understanding of exactly how that happens, we have to look into three ways in which consumption of wholemeal bread leads to weight loss:
The major challenge in weight loss is actually preventing further weight gain; to accomplish this, you will need to go on a low-calorie diet. Meal bread offers a healthier source of the required daily energy needs in satiating portions. A recent study found that people who consumed wholemeal bread were less likely to gain weight compared to those who chose alternative bread.
Consumption of meal bread has been linked with the reduction of visceral fat obesity. Visceral fat obesity leads to central adiposity, which is the accumulation of fat in the abdomen.
High levels of central adiposity are also associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and hypertension. It, therefore, makes sense to switch to a whole grain diet while trying to cut down on fat (link).
Meal bread prepared using whole seeds flour (with bran) has been shown to reduce hunger feelings. The fact that wholemeal bread is slow to digest means that you will feel fuller for longer. The meal also releases small quantities of energy over a more extended period further decreasing hunger between meals. The overall effect of hunger control is reduced calorie intake, thus enhancing your weight loss activities.