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    Is it healthy to eat bread in pregnancy?

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    1. Pregnant mum slicing fresh bread

    Juggling the ever-increasing pace of work and family life has led many of us to change our daily diets. Nowadays we often rely on quick and easy food to feed ourselves and our families, with fully-prepared meals being reserved for special occasions.

    Bread-based foods such as sandwiches, wraps and pizzas can be found on the menu more than ever – they are filling, not too calorific and contain minerals and nutrients essential for our health.

    But what if you’re pregnant – is it healthy to eat bread in pregnancy too? And if so, which bread is best?

    2. Sliced grain loaf

    The good news for bread-lovers is starchy foods, such as bread, pasta and rice, should make up about one-third of your diet during pregnancy.

    However, it’s recommended that you choose whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread and brown rice, as these contain more vitamins and nutrients than their white counterparts. In fact, government guidelines recommend that pregnant women make at least half of the grains they eat each day whole grains.

    So, a word of advice – avoid breads labelled “refined” or “enriched”, as they’re not beneficial for you or baby. Instead stick to whole-wheat breads so you can benefit from its key nutrients, such as wheat germ, wheat gluten, carbohydrates and fibre.

    The Benefits of Eating Bread During Pregnancy

    The good news is there are loads of health benefits to eating whole-wheat bread for you and your baby.

    3. Pregnant woman eating slad with seeded bread

    Here are eleven reasons why eating whole-wheat bread in pregnancy is so good for you.

    1

    Maintains the correct cholesterol levels

    The fibre in whole grain bread helps you maintain the correct cholesterol levels, which is essential for the proper development of your baby, for the production and function of oestrogen and progesterone and also the development of healthy breast milk

    2

    Strengthens mum and baby’s teeth and bones

    Whole grain bread is often fortified with calcium. Your body takes calcium for baby from your own teeth and bones so it's important to consume enough calcium when you’re pregnant to keep yourself and baby strong.

    3

    Assists with healthy foetal development

    The major protein found in whole grain bread is wheat gluten. This gluten is a core provider of proteins, which are an important source of folic acid, iron, fibre and B vitamins – all essential for the healthy development of your baby.

    4

    Strengthens baby’s immune system and reduces the chance of deficiencies

    Some breads contain added vitamin C and ascorbic acid powder which can help reduce foetus deficiencies.

    5

    Reduces the risk of asthma

    Whole grains are associated with reduced inflammation, which can benefit asthma symptoms.

    6

    Prevents gallstones

    The fibre in whole grain bread regulates your digestive system, preventing the formation of gallstones.

    7

    Regulates sugar levels

    The high proportion of fibre present in whole grain bread helps to regulate your levels of blood sugar, helping to keep gestational diabetes at bay.

    8

    Maintains heart health

    This same fibre is good for your heart (which takes a beating with all the extra blood it has to pump around your body when pregnant) as it helps reduce LDL cholesterol (known as bad cholesterol), which can lower your risk of heart disease.

    9

    Maintains your metabolism

    Whole grain bread is rich in B-Complex vitamins, such as, riboflavin niacin and thiamin. All of these nutrients play a key role in streamlining the body processes and regulating your metabolic activities.

    10

    Reduces ectoderm defects and other foetal complications

    The wheat germ found in whole-wheat bread is overloaded with folic acid, which is key to reducing your baby’s chances of having ectoderm defects and other complications.

    11

    Prevents constipation

    The high fibre in whole-wheat bread provides the necessary roughage to streamline bowel movements, reducing the common pregnancy condition of constipation and haemorrhoids

     

    Other Ways to Add Grains to your Pregnancy Diet

    4. A healthy portion of whole grains

    The government suggests pregnant women eat 28 grams of whole grains a day. So, if you’re not a fan of whole-wheat bread, but don’t want to miss out on the health benefits whole grains give baby and you, why not try out one of these other ways of adding them to your diet.

    • Substitute your usual pasta or noodles with whole-grain variants. Japanese soba noodles are made from buckwheat and simply delicious
    • Add barley or another whole grain to batter for pancakes or waffles. And why not treat yourself to a topping of fresh fruit and ice-cream - after all you’re eating for two!
    • Make a delicious salad using whole grains such as quinoa or farro. Just add chopped veggies and a vinaigrette dressing
    • Replace some of the flour you’re using in your baking with whole-grain flour such as whole-wheat, spelt of rye.

    Celebrate Real Bread Week?

    Why not celebrate Real Bread Week by popping to your local bakers for a variety of whole-wheat bread you haven’t tried before. Or better still get the mixing bowl out and start baking your own!

    There are so many delicious recipes you can follow, but this is our favourite:

    Fruit & spice soda bread 

    By Sarah Cook, BBC Good Food

    5. A Fruit & Spice Soda Bread

    Photo: BBC Good Food

    Ingredients

    • 100g rolled porridge oat
    • 25g butter , diced
    • 200g plain flour
    • 200g plain wholemeal flour , plus extra for dusting
    • 100g caster sugar
    • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    • 1 ½ tsp mixed spice
    • 50g raisin
    • 50g sultana
    • 50g stoned date , finely chopped
    • 3 tbsp mixed peel
    • 450ml buttermilk
    • 3-4 tbsp demerara sugar

    Method

    • STEP 1

    Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Whizz the porridge oats and butter together in a food processor, or rub the butter into the oats with your fingertips in a big bowl. Stir in the flours, caster sugar, bicarb, mixed spice, 1 tsp salt, the raisins, sultanas, dates and mixed peel.

    • STEP 2

    Pour over the buttermilk and quickly stir in with a round-bladed knife. Tip out onto a flour-dusted surface and gently bring together into a ball with your hands. Transfer to a flour-dusted baking sheet and scatter over the demerara sugar, pressing it into the top. Use a sharp, flour-dusted knife to cut a big cross in the top and bake for 30-35 mins until crusty on the outside. Eat warm or cold, thickly sliced, with butter.

    We hope we’ve reassured you that it certainly is healthy to eat bread in pregnancy – especially whole-wheat variants.  Happy Real Bread Week mamas-to-be!