Can You Eat Bread If You Have Type 2 Diabetes?
Bread seems to be everywhere. Entire grocery store shelves are dedicated to it. Restaurants serve baskets of seemingly endless, warm bread. At some cafes, bread seems to be incorporated into every single menu option. If your childhood was like mine, you might have grown up on peanut butter and jellies and grilled cheese sandwiches. You may be wondering, "Can I eat bread if I have type 2 diabetes?"
If you live with type 2 diabetes, you might have been told by your doctor or nutritionist to avoid processed white carbohydrates, like bread. We will provide answers to the big bread question and determine which breads may be best for managing blood sugar and reducing spikes.
Bread and type 2 diabetes management
Your doctor or nutritionist was right; it is best to avoid bread that is made from white, over-processed flour. According to Harvard's School of Public Health, this type of bread, which comes in the form of products like white bread, bagels, hamburger buns, hotdog buns, has a high glycemic index. A high glycemic index is considered to be 70 or above.1
A warning about high glycemic index bread
Foods with a high glycemic index quickly spike insulin and blood sugar, while foods low on the glycemic index are digested more slowly and have less of an effect on these important things. Low glycemic foods have been shown to help manage type 2 diabetes and assist with weight loss.
Not all bread is created equally
That being said, not all bread is created equally. Although bread that you might encounter in a restaurant, bakery, coffee shop, or grocery store might not be the best fit for your diet, there are types of bread that can be a healthier option than white bread. The best bread for a diabetes diet will be made with low glycemic flour options.
Darker breads are better
In general, darker bread is better. If bread is darker, it likely contains whole grains and is made from nutrient-dense flour like whole wheat, rye, and buckwheat. Unlike white flour, these types of flour have not been stripped of nutrients, and still contain protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Since the increase in popularity of the keto and paleo diets, many low-carb bread options have entered the market. Both of these diets eschew grains and wheat, so keto and paleo bread options use nut and seed flours instead of wheat or white flours. These types of bread will likely be lower on the glycemic index and contain a high amount of protein and fat.
Watch out for gluten-free bread
Gluten-free flours have also become extremely popular in the past few years. This bread might be marketed as being healthier than normal bread; however, this is not necessarily true. Gluten-free bread often uses flours high on the glycemic index, like rice, tapioca, and cornflour.
Check the nutrition label and ingredients list
Before buying bread, look at the nutrition label and ingredient list. Avoid bread that contains added sugar. Look for whole wheat and whole grains at the beginning of the ingredient list. Check the sugar content and amount of carbohydrates, as well as protein and fiber content.
White bread might be the only option sometimes
Due to the prevalence of white bread products, it might be the only bread option in some situations. If whole wheat bread isn't available, opt for a sandwich or burger wrapped in lettuce. Large leafy greens like chard or collard greens work well as a wrap for burrito fillings. If eating a white bread product, try eating it with healthy proteins and fats to slow down the digestion and absorption of this high glycemic carb.
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