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Written by Registered Dietitian, Stephanie Dang

As part of our Healthy Loafstyle contest, we asked you to submit your diet and health-related questions to our Registered Dietitian, Stephanie Dang. Stephanie has answered some of the most frequently submitted questions below!

1) What’s a healthy amount of bread to eat?
The same guideline for eating bread applies to all foods: eat in moderation! Being “healthy” means you are eating a variety of foods and getting all the nutrients your body needs, in addition to maintaining your physical and mental health. I think 2 slices of bread per day is a good starting point, because this means you can enjoy other forms of healthy carbohydrates at other meals (ex. oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa). But will you be unhealthy if you ate more than 2 slices of bread? Of course not! Remember, there is a lot more to being healthy than the number of slices of bread you eat!

2) Do flax seeds or chia seeds need to be ground up for your body to be able to absorb the nutrients? How much benefit do we get from whole flax seeds?

Chia SeedsAll forms of flax and chia seeds add some nutrition to your diet but in varying amounts. Let’s break it down:

Whole Flax Seeds: our body cannot break down whole flax seeds. If you’ve ever looked…they come out of us the exact same way they went in! So this means we can’t actually absorb the nutrients inside the flax seeds. BUT, even whole, they are still a great source of insoluble fibre. AKA, the fibre that helps bulk up your stool and move it along (when adequate fluids are also consumed). Whole flax seeds, although we cannot digest the nutrients inside, still help keep us regular!

Ground Flax Seeds: when possible, choose ground flax seeds so that our body can digest and absorb all the nutrients inside. These nutrients include ALA (an omega 3 fatty acid), B vitamins, iron, protein, and antioxidants, to name a few. And, we still get the insoluble fibre from ground flax seeds!

Whole and Ground Chia Seeds: whole or ground, our body can digest chia seeds a little bit easier than flax seeds. When ground, we may be able to absorb the nutrients a little bit better. But we can still digest them whole, so I don’t always recommend ground chia seeds (whereas I almost always recommend ground flax seeds). Some important nutrients in chia seeds include ALA (an omega 3 fatty acid), calcium, iron, protein, and lots of antioxidants!

3) What is a recommended diet for a person with osteoporosis? For seniors worried about Alzheimer’s Disease, is any food specifically helpful for a “healthy brain”?

Osteoporosis Diet:
Good nutrition plays a vital role in preventing osteoporosis, as well as managing osteoporosis. Tips to protect your bones and keep them strong include:

Getting enough calcium and vitamin D. The recommended daily intakes depend on your age and gender but can be found here. Calcium and Vitamin D play an important role in bone health and can be found in foods such as dairy products, fortified plant milks, and canned salmon with bones.
Eating enough protein. Everyone has different protein needs, but Including a protein source (~4 oz, the size of a deck of cards) at each meal and perhaps 1 snack will generally meet your needs. Some good protein sources include lean meats, fish, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes.
Eating a well-balanced diet with lots of variety. This ensures you are getting all the nutrients you need for good bone health, such as vitamin K, phosphorus, and zinc.
Be active! Doing weight-bearing activities daily can help strengthen bones.

Alzheimer’s Diet:
Unfortunately, there is no “miracle food” or diet to prevent Alzheimer’s. The current recommendations are to follow a healthy diet, which includes whole grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables, fish, and plant-based protein sources, such as nuts, seeds, and legumes. So, if you’re looking to incorporate more whole grains into your diet, try replacing white bread or white pasta with one of COBS Whole Grain loaves!

4) What is the difference between whole grain and whole grain flour and when it comes to bread, which is healthier for you? I’ve recently read that white bread is easier to digest.

Whole grain and whole grain flour are nutritionally the same. Whole grain flour is just ground-up whole grains! For more information about grains, read the blog post I wrote, The Truth About Grains.

Whole grain is definitely the way to go, and you should choose whole grains whenever you can. As I explain in the blog post, many important nutrients and fibre are stripped from whole grains during the “whitening” process.

As for digestibility, white bread is digested easier because of the lack of fibre. However, most North Americans are not getting enough fibre in their diets, and should be trying to incorporate more. Adding whole grain bread to your diet can be a good way to do this. If you are trying to incorporate more fibre into your diet (see daily recommendations here. Do NOT increase your fibre intake quickly! Your digestive system will not be happy, and will most likely result in stomach cramps and constipation. So, increase slowly and drink LOTS of fluids!

5) Can bread be part of a weight reduction diet?

YES. There is no single food that makes us gain weight or lose weight – it depends on our overall diet. When we are trying to manage our weight, we want to choose foods that can keep us full and are nutrient-dense. Whole grain bread is an excellent source of fibre, good carbohydrates, and vitamins and minerals. White bread may not always be the best choice because it doesn’t keep us full, due to the lack of fibre and protein. Whole grain breads, on the other hand, CAN keep us full. Especially when they are paired with lean protein and lots of fresh vegetables. Research shows that consuming adequate amounts of good carbohydrates during the day (for example, whole grain bread), can help diminish late night cravings for sweets and junk food, which may help manage weight. If you have questions about healthy, realistic weight loss strategies, email [email protected] to book a session with a Registered Dietitian!

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