The Dietetic Value of Bread

In the October issue of the South African Dental Journal a correspondent quotes an advertisement for bread and asks for information concerning the truth of the claims made by the advertiser. The advertisement reads as follows: –
“To keep you going for hard work and strenuous games, bread is the essential food, because it ranks first as an energy producer and body builder. Weight for weight, bread is by far the cheapest food to buy –there is no waste. It is the most satisfactory and sustaining of all foods.” In the following issue of the Journal, Dr. Joseph
Lennox, replies. He says: –
“If all dental surgeons had knowledge of the principles of dietetics, it would be easy to point out the truths and fallacies of the above, but as this is by no means the case (and the same may be said of our medical men) I find it extremely difficult to treat adequately with all the intricacies of dietetics involved in a complete explanation.
An Adequate Diet
“An adequate diet should contain the following ingredients: Proteins, carbohydrate, fats, roughage, minerals and vitamins. An active man weighing 165 lbs. will consume 3,000 calories of food per day, which must contain 125 grams of protein, 50 grams of fat and 500 grams of carbohydrate. These figures apply to the amount that must be assimilated and not to the bulk eaten. The minerals calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, copper, iodine, and many others must be in adequate quantities. The minimum requirements of the first three, which are the most important, are calcium, .69 gram; phosphorus, 1.32 gram; and iron, about .005 gram daily. The vitamins are A, B1and B2, C and D. Roughly speaking, A and D are found in all animal fats, B1 and B2 in the husks of all grain, yeast, meat, milk and eggs, and vitamin C in all green uncooked vegetables and fruits, excepting tomatoes which retain the vitamin in spite of cooking, and also in raw milk, eggs and raw meat.”
After tabulating eight items of food; white bread, whole wheat bread, beans, almonds (shelled), peanuts (shelled), milk, eggs and potatoes, and discussing the food values of each of these and their price, he continues: “All of the above are adequate in protein except almonds and potatoes. Peanuts and beans (and also dried peas) have equal nourishment to bread and are cheaper. Although they have less carbohydrate, they have more fat, which is able to compensate for lack of carbohydrate. (Note how Eskimos can use blubber and flesh and no carbohydrate.) As mentioned above, .69 gram of calcium and 1.32 gram of phosphorus are the minimum requirements for a man of 165 lbs., and who leads an active life. Note that white bread is very deficient in both minerals, and that brown bread is deficient in both minerals, and that brown bread is deficient in calcium but has an adequate supply of phosphorus. As milk is very rich in both minerals, and if taken raw or fermented contains all the vitamins which bread lacks in certain respects, it follows that whole wheat bread and milk forms an adequate diet, the one supplementing what is lacking in the other. The same argument applies to any grain food consumed with milk, and probably is the reason so many native tribes eat as their staple diet grain of some form or other fermented milk. A diet of coffee and any kind of bread is inadequate from the point of view of proteins, minerals and vitamins. It can now be seen that the advertisement is partly truthful and partly false in detail, but in general the whole tells a false story. It is truthful in that bread has an adequate supply of carbohydrate for strenuous work and energy, but so have potatoes and beans, so it is not unique in that respect as the advertisement tries to imply. As has been shown above, weight for weight it is not the cheapest food, as both potatoes and beans are cheaper, besides being richer in minerals. On the other hand, potatoes are poorer in fats and proteins, but beans are also richer in these. But man does not live on one article alone, and on the whole one can say as part of a mixed diet wholemeal bread, cooked and prepared for consumption as it is, is a valuable and cheap part of our civilized diet. It is both interesting and enlightening to note that such essential and nutritive foods as milk and eggs cost much more proportionately than their high nutritive value warrants.”
The Dental Magazine and Oral Topics