How much sugar is in your ‘healthy’ brown and wholemeal bread?
A UK Daily Telegraph analysis reveals that many brown and wholemeal loaves of bread contain more sugar than their white equivalents, prompting concern from campaigners and nutritionists.
Many types of brown and wholemeal bread contain higher levels of sugar than white loaves, a Telegraph analysis shows.
A number of popular manufacturers are adding sugar to bread seen as a “healthier” option, while equivalent white loaves remain free of the substance.
Campaigners described the findings as “alarming”, suggesting that families who opted for wholemeal varieties for health reasons were being misled. One nutritionist said the added sugar partly undermined the benefits of eating wholemeal.
The disclosure comes amid growing warnings by scientists over the effects of sugar on health. Earlier this month the World Health Organisation said people should halve the daily amount of sugar they consume, in order to help avoid mounting health problems such as obesity and tooth decay.
This newspaper’s analysis found that some individual slices of bread contained more than half a teaspoon of total sugars. The WHO’s new draft advice recommends that the average adult should limit their intake of added sugar to six teaspoons per day.
The Telegraph analysed 15 wholemeal and brown loaves sold by major supermarkets, as well as their equivalent white products.
All of the loaves contain sugars which naturally occur in the bread. However, additional sugar was included in the ingredients of ten of the brown and wholemeal loaves.
In five cases the brown or wholemeal loaves contained a form of added sugar, while the white equivalent loaf did not.
Manufacturers said the sugar was needed to “mask” the “bitter” taste of wholemeal flour, insisting the ingredient appeared only in “negligible” amounts.
However, Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist and science director of Action on Sugar, a campaign group, said: “There is that there is absolutely no requirement for added sugar and it should not be included as any part of a balanced diet – just an occasional treat which we can all enjoy.”
He added: “Brown bread is believed to be healthier than white bread because of the fibre but the levels of sugar in some of these products is alarming.
“The primary aim of Action On Sugar is to get the food industry to reduce added sugar by 40 per cent in the next four years which will halt the obesity epidemic. As this investigation has revealed brown bread is certainly no exception.”
Ian Marber, a nutritionist, said: “It is particularly surprising to find added sugar in wholemeal loaves as they have a ‘healthier’ aura.
“As sugar seems to be added to mostly brown wholemeal loaves I can’t help wondering if it’s been added to sell more. Wholemeal contains a little more fibre than white bread and so it’s considered superior from a nutritional perspective. To some extent the addition of sugar counteracts that.”