Bread, Beer, and Coffee Are Healthier Than You Know
What if the secret to health wasn’t in the medicine cabinet but at the bar and the bakery?
To be healthy, people are led to believe, they must consume a Spartan diet, drink health elixirs that look like witches’ potions, and exercise with the intensity of an Olympic athlete.
But what if there’s an easier way to be healthy? And it’s as simple as embracing some of the things you already enjoy doing in a more mindful and moderate manner?
For the past five years we’ve been studying the potential health effects of many so-called “vices,” including beer, bread, and coffee, for our book The Good Vices. By poring over the existing medical literature and drawing on our combined 50 years of experience in medicine and health journalism, we’ve found that in many cases these foods can not only be part of a healthy lifestyle, but when consumed in moderation, they can help power a healthier way of being.
The Case for Bread
It’s true that bread, made from gluten (what is today considered the most unholy of holies), is unhealthy for people with celiac disease or other wheat sensitivity. But for the vast majority of people, whole grain breads are a healthy food. Whole-grain bread is filling and provides nutrients like vitamins E and B and minerals like iron, magnesium, selenium, and others. It is also a very rich source of dietary fiber, which can lower people’s bad cholesterol or LDL, improving their heart health in the process.
A 2017 Harvard Medical School study looking at 64,714 women and 45,303 men found that people who consumed the lowest levels of gluten were 15% more likely to develop heart disease. In another 2016 report published in BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), researchers looked at 45 previous studies and concluded that compared to people who ate no wheat, people who consumed 90 grams of whole grains a day reduced their risk for all-cause mortality by 17%.
Another 2016 analysis looked at 14 studies with 786,076 people and found that compared to those who ate the least whole-grain foods, people who ate the most had a 16% decreased risk of all-cause mortality and an 18% decreased chance of dying from…