Plenty of diets nowadays claim that carbs, not fats, are the main culprits for obesity and the diseases that stem from it. Which is supposedly why, if you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll do a more effective job of it by cutting down on bread, sugar, and pasta rather than butter and cheese.
While some people can go cold turkey and completely cut carbs out of their life, a few of us need to slowly wean off carbs or find healthier alternatives. When it comes to bread alternatives, there’s a claim that pita bread is healthy for weight loss because of its ingredients compared to your everyday sliced bread. But just how healthy is pita bread and, if not, are there other alternatives to consider?
What Is Pita Bread?
Also known as pitta, Arabic bread, and Syrian bread, pita is a type of flatbread that’s a staple in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and other parts of the world. Its creation dates back to the prehistoric Middle East, with evidence pointing back as far as 14,500 years prior.
The term “pita” comes from the Modern Greek word which comes from the Byzantine Greek word, πίτα, which means a bread or cake. This, in turn, may have come from the Ancient Greek “πικτή” (pronounced “pikte”), which means fermented pastry. This ancient Greek word could be the ancestor for both the words “pita” and the Latin word that would eventually create the word “pizza.”
Pita Bread Ingredients
The main ingredients of pita bread are flour, water, yeast, and salt. However, others may add different ingredients to their pita bread, and other commercial manufacturers may add different ingredients such as sugar and preservatives, so it’s best to check the ingredients on the label before making a purchase.
It is not suitable for people who want to go on a keto or carb-free diet, but it can be good for people who are trying to lower their carb intake or finding healthier carb alternatives compared to the average carb intake of eating regular bread.
Pita Bread vs. Regular White Bread
If you’re looking at pita bread in comparison to white bread, you can understand why many people believe pita bread is a healthier alternative to white bread. While different bakeries and commercial manufacturers’ ingredients and its measurements for white bread vary, you’ll generally find wheat flour, sugar, oil, yeast, and milk.
Flour and sugar are a form of carbohydrates – and bread is high in carbs: A single slice of white bread has 13 grams of carbs and around a gram of sugar. In comparison, one pita has 10g of carbs and almost little to no sugar at all.
Is Pita Bread Healthy?
Pita bread has less carbs than white bread, but that’s not to say that it’s completely healthy. For example, if you’re looking to replace your daily white bread with pita bread, then you lose a few grams of carbs. But if you’re eating a pita sandwich filled with sugary spreads like Nutella, then you’re still eating a lot of carb.
And while you do lower the amount of carb you’re eating, you’re increasing the amount of sodium. Pita generally has much more salt in its ingredients than regular white bread. And too much salt in your diet can increase your blood pressure.
So, while pita is healthier than white breads that are filled with sugar, they aren’t totally healthy if you’re eating it with unhealthy fillings, spreads, and sauces. In fact, it’s not really better than the other white bread alternatives in the market.
Alternatives to Low-Carb Bread
Three other healthy carb alternatives to white bread that come to mind are sourdough bread, whole wheat bread, and oat bread. Here’s a brief rundown of the three, which you can easily find baked fresh in most bakeries.
Sourdough bread is with a fermentation process with natural lactobacilli and yeast to make the bread rise. It has a sour taste and is easier to digest because of the probiotics produced during fermentation, promoting good gut health.
The fermentation process reduces the amount of phytates in the bread, which impair mineral absorption. This means the bread has more minerals and nutrients than average bread. And while there is sugar present in the ingredients, the bacteria decreases the rate at which it is digested, reducing its impact on one’s blood sugar.
Whole Wheat Bread
Whole wheat bread includes wheat grains that weren’t processed: it includes the germ, endosperm, and bran. In comparison, white bread includes wheat that’s been washed and processes so that only the endosperm is included.
The outer bran layer is high in fiber, while both the bran and the germ have proteins, vitamins, and minerals. The endosperm, however, is just mostly starch, which is why white bread doesn’t have the same nutrients and whole wheat.
Oat bread is a mixture of whole wheat flour and oats, as well as the typical ingredients of bread including yeast, water, and salt. Oats are known to have many health benefits, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber that can regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
While it sounds healthy, be careful when choosing your oat bread, as some recipes aren’t always the healthiest. Some oat breads may have oats, but it’s very minimal compared to the amount of flour, sugar, oils, and preservatives used, which practically cancels out the health benefits provided in oats.
Pita bread can be a good carb alternative to white bread, but it’s not the healthiest form of bread in the market. Consider the other healthy options available, or be careful about what you put inside your pita as a filling.