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How to keep your health and diet in check while consuming baked products?

Food, nutrition and physical fitness form the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. And so are celebrations and festivities which are mostly associated with sweets of every kind in our culture. Bakery products are important part of our lifestyle. Bakery products include bread, rolls, cookies, pies, pastries, chocolates and muffins, which are usually prepared from flour or meal derived from some form of grain and cooked by dry heat process, especially in some kind of oven.

Bakery products are usually perceived as harmful to health. Most of the bakery products are made with refined white flour, which is unhealthy. They are also filled with preservatives, additives, sugar or artificial sweeteners, and of course other chemicals that are often hidden in bread and not disclosed on the label.

However, there are ways to make them healthier and tasty too. Health-based bakery products are the bakery products, which result in special health benefits other than normal nutritional supply when consumed in adequate amount.

Consumers need to become aware of the healthier options, so that they can maintain good health while enjoying the taste & convenience offered by bakery products.

1. Wholewheat bakery products

Wholewheat flour is a powdery substance derived by grinding or mashing the wheat's whole grain. Wholewheat flour is more nutritious than refined white flour. Whole wheat is a good source of calcium, iron, fibre and other minerals like selenium. Having said that, Wholewheat flour has a shorter shelf life than white flour, as the higher oil content leads to rancidity.

Consumption of whole grains has been found to be associated with lower fasting insulin concentrations when compared to those associated with the consumption of refined grains. It is a major component in reducing risk factors of Type 2 diabetes. It also reduces the risks of CVDs (cardio vascular disorders). Regular wholegrain consumption lowers LDL and triglyceride levels, which contributes to an overall 26% reduction in coronary heart disease risk factors. Wholegrain consumption is inversely related to hypertension, diabetes, and obesity when compared to refined grains.

2. Multigrain bakery products

These are bakery products containing two or more types of grain, especially for providing fibre and health benefits. Multigrain bread is bread made with multiple grains such as oats, cracked wheat, buckwheat, barley, millet and flax. Multigrain bread may have three to five different grains or it may have up to 12 different grains.

3. Bakery products with high fibre

Fibre refers to a group of substances that include plant polysaccharides and lignin that are resistant to the digestive enzymes. Effective elimination characteristics of this type of bread can help prevent diseases such as bowel cancer, piles, and stop constipation. Fibre tends to be very low in fat but can help prevent cardiovascular disease.

4. Sugar-free bakery products

Sugar-free foods do not contain any sugar and are usually artificially sweetened. These needs to look like, taste like, and have the same quality of their sugar counterparts in order to satisfy the consumer needs. There are several sugar substitutes available, although some of the artificial sweeteners are actually destroyed by high temperatures, which can lead to baked goods with an unpleasant flavour and appearance. Natural sweeteners often produce better results but they generally contain more calories and may require additional adjustments to the original recipe.

Natural Sweeteners

Honey: Honey is 25% to 50% sweeter than sugar, and has a distinctive flavour. Baked goods made with honey are moist, dense, and tend to brown faster than those made with granulated sugar.

Maple syrup: It is made from the sap of sugar maple trees. The sap is boiled down into sweet, delectable syrup. Grade A maple syrup is golden brown and has a delicate flavour. Grade B is thicker, darker, and is better for baking because it has a stronger flavour.