Over the holiday, I was playing with two of my nieces when one asked the other an age-old question, “If you were trapped on a desert island, and you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?” She thought for a moment and said, “Sandwiches.” When I asked her why, she said: “Think about it. There are so many kinds of sandwiches! You can have sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She never said I had to pick what kind of sandwich I would have.”
This left me with two thoughts. First, this kid beat the system—what an innovator. Second, she’s right. There are so many types of bread—from rolls to bagels, white bread to pumpernickel—you could theoretically have a different sandwich every day for the rest of your life.
Today, thanks to fad diets, many people have been cutting out carbs. This has led to the growing issue of nutrient shortfalls, including dietary fiber, folate, iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamin A, potentially causing health concerns. More than 95 percent of Americans fall short of the daily recommended fiber intake.
Many people give up bread thinking it will cut calories, so they will lose weight. A recent Grain Foods Foundation study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to assess the energy and nutrients contributed from all sandwiches in the U.S. diets of children and adolescents. Researchers found that all grain foods, including breads, contributed less than 15 percent of all calories in the total diet, while delivering nutrients that are in short supply in the diet of many Americans. The striking conclusion is that the ingredients inside the sandwich—not the bread itself—are the most-significant drivers of calories, fat and sodium. This demonstrates the need to focus on the ingredients between the bread for a better, more-healthful sandwich.
All grain foods collectively are nutrient-rich and fill critical nutrient gaps. Specifically, breads, rolls and tortillas are meaningful contributors of shortfall nutrients. They are often excellent sources of fiber that leave you feeling fuller longer.