Walk into any sandwich shop and the first question you’re always asked is, “White or wheat?” Health conscious customers never have to think twice; the answer is always the latter. And that’s because, in the battle of the breads, white is always the loser. It digests quickly and spikes blood sugar levels, which revs hunger and fat storage, making it one of the worst carbs for weight loss. But as many carb-lovers will point out, when you choose wheat bread as your sandwich base, you compromise white’s smooth texture. Ugh! So annoying! But what if there was a third choice? A bread that was smooth like white bread, but free of its waist-widening qualities?
Professor Zhou Weibiao, a food scientist at the National University of Singapore, set out to create just that. "The challenge was to see if we could change the formula of bread without changing the smooth texture of white bread that people really love," he said. To create this too-good-to-be-true concoction, Zhou extracted anthocyanins (naturally occurring food pigments that ward off disease, obesity, and diabetes) from black rice and infused them into white bread.
The resulting loaf was one with a purple tint, rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants and free of scary additives. The anthocyanins also slowed the rate of digestion by 20 percent. This means that the bread doesn't spike blood sugar and hunger levels like regular white bread. (Read: It’s awesome for those on a diet!) And better yet, Weibiao was able to preserve 80 percent of the antioxidant qualities in the bread crust and crumbs post-bake, making it one of the most potent superfoods in the bread aisle.
Curious about the calories? We were, too. Because the bread has the same amount of starch and wheat flour, it has the same number of calories as regular bread. But according to Weibiao, that’s not the important part. “The key idea here is slowing down the energy release, so you use those calories over a longer period of time," says Weibiao. Slower digestion = less hunger = fewer calories consumed over the course of the day. (Way to go, Weibiao!)
Though the bread isn’t currently commercially available, major food manufacturers have already contacted the brainiac bread maker about bringing his purple product to market. When it hits supermarket shelves, you can bet we’ll be first in line to try it!