What a pleasure it is to get bun from a co-worker, a friend or a family member at Easter time.
Easter buns come in different shapes and sizes - round, small, long, and fruited. No matter what, bun is just bun to us Jamaicans, and tastes better when eaten with cheese.
Most persons, including those with diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and obesity, look forward to Easter because of the bun. Bun is eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks - tasty and delicious!
But have you ever stopped to consider how nutritious the bun and cheese sandwich really is?
The main ingredient in the traditional bun is enriched flour and is classified in the staples group in the Caribbean food groups. Bun provides mainly carbohydrates, but over the years, with a wave of health consciousness, buns are now being made with wholewheat flour and bran.
Let's look at the flour used in bun making:
White flour is bleached or refined and does not provide fibre, which is needed to provide that feeling of fullness (satiety) and causes us to eat less.
Wholewheat flour provides up to one gram fibre per slice, and this is only if 100 per cent wholewheat flour is used.
Bran provides less than one gram fibre per slice.
The wholewheat and bran are usually mixed with white enriched flour for it to hold or come together during kneading or mixing, hence the insignificant amount of fibre present. The recommendation for fibre is 25 grams per day.
The person with diabetes and kidney problems should be guided by a registered nutrition professional as to the amount and type of bun to be consumed.
Here are some tips:
A person with diabetes whose blood sugar is normal or close to normal is allowed to exchange a slice of bun with one serving of staple at each meal. One serving of staple is: one slice of bread (wholewheat or white), four ounces yam, one slice or peg of breadfruit, half-cup of rice (brown or white or parboiled), one finger of banana, half-cup of porridge (without milk).
A person with kidney disease on a potassium restriction is NOT allowed to eat bun made with wholewheat or bran or with dried fruits such as raisins, mixed peel or molasses or brown sugar. Potassium in excess may cause irregular heartbeat and result in a heart attack.
Consuming bun and all foods in the staples group may result in weight gain, as excess glucose is stored as fat.
Cheese is usually eaten with bun and, less often, butter. The traditional, all-time Jamaican favourite cheese is yellow cheddar. But is this acceptable for all persons? Persons who want to consume less fat and sodium should choose mozzarella cheese. This is a white, soft cheese made from a combination of non-fat and low-fat milk and with less salt added.
This Easter, enjoy bun and cheese at all meals by reducing the intake of staples and meat or protein-rich foods. Let us not gain the unnecessary weight or allow our blood sugar or blood pressure to get out of control.
Let us live a healthy lifestyle this holiday!