Bread generally does not contain cholesterol, but varieties that contain animal products, such as milk and butter, do. White bread and other types of bread made from refined grains can raise a person’s cholesterol level.
Bread is a staple food for many different cultures, and there are hundreds of different types. Some varieties of bread contain dietary cholesterol, while others can raise LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, in the blood. However, studies suggest that dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol levels. This article goes into more detail about bread and cholesterol, the role of whole grains in cholesterol management, and how to follow a healthy diet to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Does bread contain cholesterol?
The cholesterol content of bread depends on certain factors. There are two types of cholesterol: one in the blood and another in food, called dietary cholesterol. Most breads are made with flour, water and yeast and are cholesterol free. But some types of bread are made from animal products high in saturated fat, which often contain cholesterol. Additionally, bread made from white or refined grains may raise LDL cholesterol levels. We examine this point in more detail below.
Saturated and trans fats
Some varieties of bread contain animal products such as milk, butter or eggs, which contain saturated fat. Foods higher in saturated fat are generally high in cholesterol. However, dietary cholesterol has little effect on a person’s blood cholesterol. Saturated and trans fats in foods have a greater effect on raising a person’s cholesterol level.
The table below shows the approximate cholesterol and saturated fat content of different types of bread.
Type of bread Saturated fats Cholesterol
brioche (77 g piece) 11 g 134 mg
cookies (101g) 4.36g 3.03mg
roll (60 g) 1.85 g 39.6 mg
White bread contains refined bread flour, a process that removes bran and germ to give the flour a finer texture.
However, this process also eliminates essential nutrients such as:
Therefore, some manufacturers add vitamins by “enriching” refined flour, but do not replace fiber. This lack of fiber means white bread is less likely to feel full and more likely to cause overeating. Refined grains, also called refined carbohydrates, are also digested faster by the body, which can raise blood sugar levels. A person with high blood sugar is more likely to have higher LDL cholesterol and lower HDL, or good, cholesterol.
Whole grains and cholesterol management
Wholemeal bread contains all the nutrients and fiber of grains, making it a good source of dietary fiber. Fiber prevents the body from absorbing certain fats and cholesterol. This can lower triglycerides, another type of blood fat, and cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. A 2019 study also found that replacing white bread, which has a high glycemic index (GI), with wholemeal bread, which has a low GI, for breakfast slowed the body’s glycemic response. Research links high blood sugar to high LDL cholesterol.
Types of wholemeal bread include those made with the following products:
multiple whole grains
A heart healthy diet
A high level of LDL cholesterol in the blood contributes to the accumulation of fats which narrow the arteries, which is called atherosclerosis. This increases the risk of:
peripheral arterial disease
Try eating whole grains as part of a balanced diet to lower cholesterol levels, as well as:
non-tropical vegetable oils
Limit their consumption of the following foods:
foods that contain saturated and trans fats
red and processed meats
dairy products made from whole milk
foods and beverages with added sugar
refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, and rice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some answers to common questions about bread and cholesterol.
Does rye bread contain cholesterol?
Rye bread does not contain dietary cholesterol because it does not contain butter or other animal products.
Does gluten-free bread contain cholesterol?
Gluten-free bread made from animal products, such as milk, butter, or eggs, may contain cholesterol.
Bread is a staple in the diet of many people around the world. While most types of bread do not contain dietary cholesterol, some may contain animal products high in saturated fat. Foods high in saturated fat are generally high in dietary cholesterol. However, studies have shown that dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are more likely to raise LDL cholesterol levels in our blood, as are refined carbohydrates such as white bread. People should try to increase their fiber intake, including eating more whole-grain breads, which can help lower cholesterol levels. This can reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.