Cardiovascular disease is responsible for one in three deaths in New Zealand and is heavily skewed towards low-income New Zealanders. A major contributor is a diet high in sodium (salt) and low in fibre and beneficial fats—for instance, a diet high in cheap and readily available white bread. In fact, bread is New Zealanders’ major single source of dietary sodium.
Nick Wilson and his team from Otago University have engineered an affordable alternative to cheap white bread: they used computer modelling on commercial loaves from 15 OECD countries to come up with the perfect recipe with the maximum amount of seeds and substituting sodium for potassium salt.
The resulting $1.50 loaf was better than white bread in terms of heart health, and the team’s $3 loaf was better than other ‘healthy’ breads commercially available.
Wilson plans to model the public health benefit of half of all New Zealanders using the $3 loaf, in terms of heart disease and strokes prevented, and costs saved. The savings may create the possibility of a government voucher system for subsidised bread for low-income New Zealanders.