Why the humble loaf of bread may be more like a laboratory experiment than food and the potential havoc it’s wreaking on your body.
If you struggle to find healthier, additive-free versions of bread, wraps, and hot cross buns at your local supermarket, you’re not alone! Today I’ll be comparing the ingredients of these common supermarket goods to real food versions from Primal Alternative.
In doing so, I’ll show you that it’s possible to have beautifully prepared gluten-free alternatives that will nourish your body and leave you feeling satisfied. Made from nutrient-dense real food ingredients, these bread products won’t leave you feeling foggy, bloated, irritable, or worse, with an allergic reaction.
Hot Cross Buns
With Easter just around the corner, many families have started to look for their beloved hot cross buns. Although widely enjoyed, very few people stop to inspect the ingredients in this favourite Easter treat. Many assume it would be quite simple – flour, dried fruit, sugar, yeast, oil and spices. If that’s what you thought, it’s worth taking a closer look.
As you’ll see in the following example of hot cross buns from Woolworths, there are plenty of other ingredients.
Woolworths Hot Cross Buns Buns Ingredients
Wheat Flour (Vitamins (Thiamin, Folate)), Fruit Mix (24%) (Sultanas (Cottonseed Oil), Currants (Sunflower Oil)), Water, Sugar, Crossing Mix (Wheat Starch, Wheat Flour, Canola Oil, Emulsifier (475, 471), Thickener (415), Salt), Canola Oil, Glaze (Water, Glucose, Sugar, Vegetable Gum (440), Acidity Regulator (330), Preservative (202), Emulsifier (435)), Yeast, Spices, Wheat Gluten, Iodised Salt.
This ingredient list reads more like a laboratory experiment than food. There are numerous numbers, emulsifiers, vegetable oils, processed ingredients and other dubious additives here.
This becomes more troublesome when you take a closer look at these additives. For example, ‘Acidity Regulator’ aka ‘Citric Acid’ (330), one of the additives found in these hot cross buns. Approximately 99% of the world’s manufactured citric acid isn’t made from citrus fruit but from a type of black mould called Aspergillus niger. Why? Because to make citric acid from citrus fruit is far too costly. This is very problematic as Aspergillus niger is a known allergen. Further, one study found that citric acid should be avoided in all food products for children under the age of 13, especially in those who have food allergies, food intolerances, skin irritations or asthma.
Preservatives are another worrying additive that seems to be in almost everything these days. Preservatives such as 202 have been known to cause symptoms such as allergic reactions, asthma, behavioural problems, headaches, hyperactivity, upset stomach and even nausea.
This list of ingredients becomes more concerning when compared to a real food version like Primal Alternative’s Hot Cross Buns.
Primal Alternative Hot Cross Bun Ingredients
Almond meal, tapioca flour, sultanas, spices, baking powder, salt, eggs, orange zest, coconut oil, maple syrup or honey, water.
First and foremost, all the ingredients in Primal Alternative’s Hot Cross Buns are 100% real food. This means you can pronounce each one, and you could have all of these ingredients in your pantry. Additionally, they’re ticking many of the allergy-friendly boxes – gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and no refined sugar. I would much prefer to eat these rather than the previously mentioned store-bought version.
This stark contrast is not exclusive to hot cross buns; it applies to bread as well. One of my biggest struggles in the supermarket is finding healthy bread without all of the additives. The following bread is a popular store-bought option, and a good representation of common supermarket breads:
Helga’s Bread Traditional Wholemeal Ingredients
Wholemeal Wheat Flour (65% Minimum), Water, Rye Meal (3%), Yeast, Wheat Gluten, Vinegar, Iodised Salt, Canola Oil, Cultured Wheat Flour, Soy Flour, Vegetable Emulsifiers (481, 471, 472e), Vitamins (Thiamin, Folic Acid).
Once again, the ingredients are troublesome. This bread contains 3 types of emulsifiers. Emulsifiers are commonly used in many breads because they provide a softer crumb structure, a longer shelf-life and a larger loaf. There’s a catch, though – emulsifiers have been found to disrupt the gut microbiome.
If you think you are safe with a loaf of gluten-free store-bought bread, think again. Many of these breads aren’t much better. Unfortunately, you can’t assume that a gluten-free item is healthier for you. One of the main issues with many gluten-free breads is that they have a concoction of additives. Take a look at the following gluten-free, store-bought bread ingredients:
Burgen Gluten Free Sliced Bread Soy & Linseed Ingredients
Water, Modified Tapioca Starch (1442), Rice Flour, kibbled Soy, linseed (6%), Canola Oil, Sugar, Chia Seeds, Soy Flour, Egg White, Iodised Salt, Dried Yeast, Vinegar, Vegetable Gums (412, 464)
The largest ingredient in this product is water and the second ingredient is highly processed starch — both cheap ingredients. Many manufacturers are creating gluten-free products made with cheap fillers and highly processed flours such as corn, rice, soy, potato and modified tapioca starch. They also usually contain high amounts of sugar, unhealthy fillers and additives. Yet, because they are gluten-free, they slap a higher price tag on them. These manufacturers create a cheap product and earn a bigger profit margin – a win-win situation for them and a losing situation for the consumer.
After becoming frustrated with what’s available at the supermarket, many people attempt to make their own healthy bread products at home. As working with gluten-free flour blends can be challenging, it is often too difficult for the novice home baker, and the results are sub-par.
Fortunately, there is a healthier bread alternative, and you don’t need to make it yourself. Primal Alternative has plenty of wonderful gluten-free bread alternatives, which tick many of the allergy-friendly boxes that many parents need.
One of my favourite grain-free breads from the Primal Alternative Range is their zucchini bread.
Primal Alternative Grain Free Zucchini Bread Ingredients
Almond meal, zucchini, free-range eggs, tapioca, pumpkin seeds, organic apple cider vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, sea salt.
As you can see, it’s made from 100% real foods and contains a healthy green vegetable for a big health bonus!
We all love good fruit bread and can easily find a selection to choose from at most supermarkets. As you can imagine, they are not as healthy and wholesome as you would hope. Let’s examine the ingredients within the following popular raisin loaf:
Tip Top Wholemeal Raisin Toast Loaf Ingredients
Whole Grain Wholemeal Wheat Flour (33.5%), Mixed Fruit (22%) (Sultanas (17%), Raisins (5%)), Water, Wheat Flour, Baker’s Yeast, Wheat Gluten, Sugar, Canola Oil, Iodised Salt, Soy Flour, Mixed Spice Vinegar, Emulsifiers (472e, 481), Vitamins (Thiamin, Folate), Vegetable Oils.
Just like other store-bought breads, fruit breads often contain multiple emulsifiers. In addition to emulsifiers, this particular bread contains multiple vegetable oils. I highly recommend avoiding vegetable oils for a few reasons. Many of the issues are rooted in how canola oil is produced.
To keep it brief, canola oil is extracted and made using harsh chemical solvents. The oil is then further refined with more chemicals, bleached and then chemically deodorised because of its natural harsh, rancid smell. As you can see, these highly processed vegetable oils are far from natural and are also quite damaging to our health!
Let’s take a closer look at the common store-bought bread, compared to Primal Alternatives.
Primal Alternatives Fruit Bread Ingredients
Water, tapioca flour, almond meal, sultanas, linseeds, sunflower kernels, goji berries, walnuts, cashew nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, chia seeds, spices, grain free baking powder, sea salt.
Once again, you’re able to pronounce every single ingredient listed, because they’re all real foods – not an additive in sight!
Lastly, let’s compare wraps. These are also tricky to find in a supermarket if you want to avoid additives, especially if you want to find wraps that don’t taste like cardboard! When you buy wraps at the supermarket, you will often find the ingredients listed below.
Gerry’s Wraps Go Low Carb Ingredients
Filtered Water, Modified Wheat Starch (1412), Wheat Flour (Folic Acid, Thiamin), Canola Oil, Wheat Gluten, Sugar, Vegetable Gum (412), Iodised Sea Salt, Humectant (422), Raising Agents (450, 500), Acidity Regulator (297), Preservatives (281, 202), Emulsifier (471), Enzyme
Look how long this list is! Immediately you can see that these wraps aren’t a great option for you. I don’t know about you, but this ingredient list doesn’t represent products I would have in my pantry at home. I certainly can’t add vegetable gums, emulsifiers, preservatives into my cooking, nor would I want to.
Luckily you can swap them for Primal Alternatives Wraps. The ingredients (listed below) are real food items I have in my pantry. And, as a bonus, once these wraps are cooked, you can hang them over the wire racks in your oven, and you can turn them into taco shells.
Primal Alternative No Nut Hemp Wrap Ingredients (also egg free, grain free and dairy free)
Tapioca flour, hemp seeds, coconut flour, linseed, sea salt, grain free baking powder
How amazing are those ingredients!
Thankfully Primal Alternative offers pre-made packets for convenience. Something that is very much appreciated, especially for those busy seasons in life!
When done right, a gluten-free lifestyle doesn’t have to be rigid, overly restrictive, or isolating. In fact, it can be easy and delicious! If you’ve been frustrated with supermarket options and have attempted to make healthy gluten-free breads, wraps, hot cross buns and fruit bread yourself with sub-par results, I encourage you to give Primal Alternative pre-made mixes a try.
And the next time you are in the supermarket, you can follow these simple guidelines when navigating the aisles:
- Remember, wholefood is best. Nature doesn’t intend for you to eat ready-made meals with artificial preservatives, gums, emulsifiers, colours, flavours and other dubious additives.
- Look at how processed the product is. If it contains multiple numbers in the ingredient list, it’s probably not worth eating. The simpler, the better!
- Always read the ingredients – my rule of thumb is, if you don’t recognise an ingredient, your body won’t either.
Don’t expect to know it all. Eating additive-free doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice, education and constant small changes. Give yourself a break; no one expects you to be perfect and know this information overnight. Comparing common store-bought items with real-food versions will help give you a better understanding, and appreciation for additive-free items.
By Jordan Pie
Qualified Nutritionist & Gut And Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Practitioner