Bread and Diabetes.

With bread such a major source of carbohydrate in the UK diet and elsewhere. Eating the right type of bread and not in to large amounts, can help improve blood sugar levels for many diabetic's.

A good mix of salad vegetables with your bread will help too.

High fibre wholemeal (whole grain) &/or granary breads are also healthier for the heart and circulation too! So why not have a try at something new!


Low Carb: Why Eat Bread at All?

I put this section in for anyone tempted by the Atkins diet or any low carb diet.

Of course its not compulsory for a diabetic to eat bread. If you want to get the recommended 45-60% calories from carbohydrates, some bulk carbohydates are needed for most people.

That can be from grains, cereals, root vegetables and bread. As well as the less concentrated sources in fruit and beans.

Remember, low carbohydrate diets mean high fat and high protein diets. Which can put strain on the heart, circulation & kidneys.

If you have diabetes these are already at risk from diabetes complications, be wary of extreme diets.

What is in Bread?

90% of any grain seems to be the limit when describing a type of bread in the UK. So wheat bread is 90% or more wheat, rye bread is 90% or more rye for example.

Multigrain bread is between 50% and 90% wheat.

Sliced or Unsliced Bread?

Portion size can be a problem when eating unsliced bread or rolls. With sliced bread you know exactly what you are having each time. Its more likely to have nutritional information too.

One slice cut by hand may be the equivalent of two or three pieces of machine sliced bread. Maybe that is just my lack of cutting skills though.

With unsliced bread it is easy to kid yourself and life is to short to weigh it, so personally, I favour sliced bread.

Breads that are High in Fat!

Breads are usually low in fat but don't assume they all are! Watch out for some of the high fat ones, both for calories and unhealthy saturated fat.

Breads that are this high in fat are also very high in calories.

Garlic BreadTotal Fat:18%
(Saturated Fat: 9%)
CroissantTotal Fat:19%
(Saturated Fat: 9%)

See the Food Standards Agengy (FSA) analysis below for details. I must admit this surprised me, especially for garlic bread!

External Links.

Type of Bread. Sugar Absorption Rate. Notes.
Barley Grain
Barley Bread
Medium to Quick? I have never seen a Barley loaf for sale. So I can't comment much on it other than to say that some versions may be high in wheat flour.

Use the feedback page if you can tell me where to buy it ready made in the UK.

Here is an external link recipe for bread made with barley flour Northumberland Threshing Day Barley Bread. Not a recommendation as I haven't tried it myself!

Brown Bread Quick In between white and wholemeal bread in the amount of fibre so a healthier choice than white bread. Likely to be a high (that is quick) conversion to blood sugar though.
French Baguette (White)
Close to white bread in how it affects the blood sugar levels of diabetic's.

There are also granary versions, although no figures for these. Like granary bread, they are likely to both have a slower conversion to blood sugar as well as be healthier for the heart and circulation.

French StickQuick? Ingredients very similar to White Bread but baked more (less moisture).

If I say the inner bread filling reminds me of cotton wool you will probably understand my opinion of it!

Granary Bread, my favourite.
Granary Bread
Slower to convert to blood sugar than either white or wholemeal bread. The coarser (more heavily grained) the better, from the heart and blood sugar control point of view.

Granary bread is moderately high in fibre and it also has some whole (unmilled) wheat grains added, which is thought to help keep the heart & circulation healthy.

Melba ToastQuick
Slightly quicker to convert to blood sugar than white bread.
Naan BreadUnknown Sorry no figure for the sugar absorption rate. The types I have personally tried appear to be based on white flour which are likely to make it high.

Higher in fat and calories then some other breads.

Pitta Bread (White)Medium
Rather like these toasted with a low fat cheese filling and cooked meat. Wholemeal pitta bread is available too.
Quite a strongly flavoured bread but if you like it worth a try.
Rye BreadQuick
Dark Rye appearing to effect blood sugar level the quickest.
White Bread
White bread is a convenience food thats hard to avoid and a good source of many nutritional needs.

Unfortunately white bread also converts quickly into blood sugar. The skin (husk or bran) of the grain is removed before its milled so it has less fibre than many other forms of bread.

Many types of bread are better.

Wholegrain BreadUnknown Some confusion here as this is the US name for wholemeal bread I think. In the UK its commonly used for breads with whole unmilled grains added like Granary bread.
Wholemeal BreadHigh
Very close to white bread in how it effects blood sugar levels. Very high in fibre and a healthier choice for the heart and circulation, a better choice than white bread but my preference is for Granary Bread.

Basically the entire grain is milled including the grains outermost husk or bran.

Nutritional Content of Breads and Some Alternatives.

Sodium is quite high (over 0.4%) for most of these foods. Oat Cakes despite the healthy 84% content of Oats quoted on the label is high in fat and worse high in Saturated Fat, due to the Palm Oil used in the product.

Type of BreadCalories in 100g
(Calories per Slice/Piece)
Total Fat
Protein Fibre
Granary Medium Sliced (Asda) 231
9.0% 3.3% 0.5%
Wholemeal Medium Sliced (Lidl) 217
8.9% 7.4% 0.5%
Wholemeal Pitta (Asda) 258
10.0% ? 0.6%
Wholemeal Rye (Aldi) 175
4.8% 10.5% 0.5%
Plain Naan (Aldi Jan 2006) 274
8.9% 2.4% 0.8%
Type of RyvitaCalories in 100g
(Calories per Piece)
Total Fat
Protein Fibre
Dark Rye Ryvita May 2005 308
8.5% 18.5% 0.4%
Multi-Grain Ryvita May 2005 332
11.0% 17.3% 0.4%
Sesame Ryvita May 2005 338
9.5% 16.5% 0.4%
Pumpkin Seeds and Oats Ryvita Jan 2006 - expensive! 362
12.5% 14.5% 0.4%
Oat CakesCalories in 100g
(Calories per Oat Cake)
Total Fat
Protein Fibre
Nairn's Oat Cakes 455
10.2% 8.8% 0.5%
 * In the UK fibre is not included in with the carbohydrate figures.
** Multiple the Sodium value by 2.5 to get the Salt equivalent.