Carbs might mean a healthier heart, as long as they have this one ingredient.
Bread gets a really bad rap. In fact, carbs, in general, are often considered the enemy of anyone who is trying to eat healthy or lose weight. Aside from the fact that there are many kinds of carbohydrates that are great for your body and necessary in a balanced diet (hello, fruit!), we know that cutting out an entire food group from your diet isn't usually the most sensible choice.
Now, a new study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition confirms what we've always known: It's totally okay to eat bread! In fact, bread can help lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. There's one catch, though. To give you those benefits, it needs to be made from ancient grains. (Related: 10 Reasons You Should Eat Carbs.)
The grains we use in bread now, like wheat, are heavily refined, making them less healthy since the refining process removes key nutrients like iron, dietary fiber, and B vitamins. Ancient grains, on the other hand, are unrefined, leaving all those good nutrients intact. While the category is quite large, a few examples of ancient grains include spelt, amaranth, quinoa, and millet.
In the study, researchers gave 45 people three different types of bread—one made from an organic ancient whole grain, one made from a non-organic ancient whole grain, and one made from a modern processed grain—to eat over three separate eight-week periods. Researchers took blood samples both at the beginning of the study and after each period of bread eating. After two months of eating bread made from ancient grains, people's LDL cholesterol (the bad one!) and blood glucose levels were significantly lower. High LDL and blood glucose levels are risk factors for heart attacks and strokes, so these findings are certainly encouraging. (Here, more on dietary cholesterol and heart disease risk.)
Because the study was relatively small, more research is needed to fully pin down the cardiovascular benefits of eating ancient grains. Also, even though the study showed that people had improved cardiovascular health after eating ancient grains, it didn't necessarily prove that they help prevent cardiovascular disease. Most of all, though, this study is proof that bread made from whole, ancient grains absolutely has a place in a healthy, balanced diet. Start with these 10 easy quinoa recipes for every occasion.