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Ciabatta – The Carpet Slipper of Health

The term “Ciabatta” means “carpet slipper” in Italian due to the shape of the bread resembling one. Ciabatta bread is an Italian white bread invented in the early 1980s. Arnaldo Cavallari created the Ciabatta in 1982 due to an overwhelming affinity toward French baguettes, which had taken Europe by storm. Introduced in Europe in the 1990s, it got popularised and is currently a popular item on the menus everywhere, from major food chains to local bakeries. It possesses a soft, chewy texture with a thin, crispy crust. 

One can make this bread in various ways, some changing its form and the crust and crumb textures. It’s great for dipping in olive oil, stacking high with meats and cheeses, or using grilled bread. In addition, one can use ciabatta bread for sandwiches, rolls, and other delicacies.

It is an excellent energy source as it contains high amounts of carbohydrates, fibres, and other essential minerals such as sodium, iron, calcium, etc. It also provides various health benefits, including preventing type-II diabetes, helping in weight management, reducing cardiovascular disease risk etc. 

Ingredients Required for Making Ciabatta Bread

The traditional recipe includes:

Whole wheat flourWaterSaltYeast

Commercial bread recipe includes:

Unbleached enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)WaterSaltLess than 2%: wheat starchYeastMalted barley flourWheat flourEnzymesNatural flavourOlive oil

Nutritional Value of Ciabatta

As per USDA data, 100 grams of ciabatta bread contains the following nutritional values. (it’s a commercial bread as regular ciabatta won’t have enriched flour and added nutrients.)

Energy: 250 kcalProtein: 8.93 gCarbohydrates: 51.79 gFibre: 1.8 gSugar: 1.79 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Various vitamins and minerals are present in Ciabatta.

Vitamin B1: 0.2 mgVitamin B3: 2 mgManganese: 6 mgCalcium: 107 mgIron: 3.21 mgSodium: 625 mg

The HealthifyMe Note

The preparation process and ingredients influence ciabatta’s nutritional profile. However, as per USDA, ciabatta is an excellent energy source due to its high carbohydrate and calorie content. 

Benefits of Ciabatta 

Rich in Nutrients and Fibre

The primary ingredients in ciabatta are whole grains. Whole grains have many nutritional benefits as they are rich in fibre and contain high amounts of B vitamins, including niacin, thiamine, and folate. Studies suggest that whole grains are an excellent energy source and complex carbs. In addition, they contain essential minerals such as iron, calcium, and sodium. With growing health awareness, the consumption of whole grains has increased in recent years.

Rich in Vitamins and Minerals

Ciabatta is an excellent source of minerals, particularly sodium and iron. The body needs sodium to maintain fluid levels. A balance of fluid and sodium is necessary for a healthy heart, liver, and kidneys. In addition, sodium regulates blood fluids and prevents low blood pressure. However, studies recommend eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily, equivalent to only one teaspoon of table salt. 

According to studies, iron is essential for making haemoglobin, ensuring adequate Red Blood Cell production. RBCs are responsible for oxygen transportation in the body.  Iron is also vital for DNA synthesis and electron transport, which provides energy to the body. Iron deficiency may lead to anaemia and neurodegenerative diseases. However, it is crucial to monitor iron levels in the body before consuming excess iron-rich foods because excessive iron can lead to tissue damage.

Helps in Weight Management

Ciabatta bread is a good source of dietary fibre. Dietary fibre increases satiety. As a result, it can regulate calorie intake, leading to weight loss and healthy weight management. It also takes longer to break down and burns more calories in the process. Studies show that increasing dietary fibre consumption may reduce body fat.

Improves Bone Health 

Ciabatta made using fortified flour offers a high calcium content. Studies suggest calcium is vital in preventing bone loss and osteoporotic fractures later in life. Meta-analyses report that calcium supplementation reduces bone loss by 0.5-1.2% and the risk of fracture of all types by at least 10% in older people. However, low calcium intake is widespread across countries and age groups. So, adequate calcium intake throughout the lifetime is essential for bone health to prevent osteoporosis and fractures.

Magnesium in ciabatta protects your cells from damage and is vital for healthy bones and connective tissues. Since ciabatta is rich in calcium and potassium, it can help improve bone health.

Improves Heart Health and Prevents Cardiovascular Diseases

Research suggests that individuals with the highest dietary fibre intake reduce their risk of cardiovascular complications. Health experts also believe that whole fibre intake causes a considerable reduction in total serum cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (the bad cholesterol). Thus ciabatta can be a healthy addition to your diet.

Reduces Risk of Crohn’s Disease

Studies suggest that long-term fibre intake of dietary fibre reduces the risk of inflammatory bowel disease. The data was collected from 170,776 women and followed up over 26 years.

Aids in Digestion

Ciabatta is an ideal source of dietary fibre. It helps improve bowel movements by absorbing water in the intestines and softening the stool. Thus, resulting in a smooth pass out of the stool. In addition, research suggests that dietary fibre intake increases stool frequency in patients with constipation and helps improve digestion.

May Prevent Type-II Diabetes

As per research, whole-grain foods such as whole-grain morning cereal, oatmeal, dark bread, brown rice, added bran, and wheat germ may decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. It is because the fibre in the whole grain slows down the breakdown of starch into glucose, leading to steady blood sugar levels. Therefore, whole-grain foods like ciabatta bread can help prevent type-II diabetes.

Strengthens Immunity

Fibre plays an essential role in boosting immunity. 

Research suggests that high dietary fibre intake can significantly lower the risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal disorders. In addition, increasing fibre intake lowers blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels. It also suggests that prebiotic fibre can boost immunity. Since dietary fibre is a good food source for good bacteria in the gut, it helps destroy harmful bacteria and provides nutrients to good bacteria. It also helps in regulating bowel movements.

Improves Brain Health

Ciabatta is a rich source of iron, vitamins B3 and other nutrients. Vitamin B3 (Niacin) improves mental health and nervous system function and reduces fatigue. It may also play a role in cancer prevention. Recent studies have shown that Iron plays a vital role in the functioning of blood cells. It also helps in transporting oxygen to all organs. Lack of iron reduces oxygen supply in the brain and leads to neurodegenerative diseases.

How to Include Ciabatta in Your Diet?

Ciabatta bread has a moist texture and unique flavour. It bears some similarities to a french baguette because of its savoury flavour and chewy texture. The crust is crisp, and the bread inside is soft and porous. 

Its porous structure is perfect for dunking into soups and swiping sauce from a plate. Coat with beaten eggs and cook lightly to make french toast.It is also perfect for making layered sandwiches of cured meat, cheese and balsamic vinegar.You can use ciabatta as a replacement for burger buns.Use stale ciabatta to make croutons for your soup. Chop it into bite-sized pieces and toss with olive oil and oregano. Bake the pieces till they turn brown and slightly crispy.Dip in herb-infused olive oil to make an appetiser. Ciabatta absorbs the oil without becoming overly soft.You can also use ciabatta to make a sugar-free bread pudding.

Homemade Recipes for Making Ciabatta 

Servings: 2  loaves

Total Time: 24 hrs

One cup: 165 gms

Ingredients

Whole Wheat Flour: 4 cupsActive Dry Yeast: 2¼ tspWarm Water: 2¼ cups Salt: 1 tsp

Method of Preparation

Combine the flours, salt, and yeast in a large mixing basin.Combine the water and oil in a separate jug to make a wet dough.Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ones.Cover the dough with cling wrap and a kitchen towel after scraping it down.Allow the dough to ferment for about 18 hours at room temperature.Line one baking sheet with a clean kitchen towel and liberally sprinkle it with flour the next day. Using parchment paper, line a second baking sheet.Uncover the dough, knock it back, and roll it into a ball.Place the dough in two pieces on the floured cloth, one on top of the other. Allow for proofing for 2 hours by covering the loaves with a kitchen towel.Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (210 degrees Celsius). Turn each loaf over and stretch it to 16 inches once the dough has risen. Then carefully set it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the bread turns golden brown, in a preheated oven.

Usage and Storage

Ciabatta bread can be stored at room temperature for 2 to 3 days in an airtight plastic bag in a cold, dry pantry or dark closet. You should also keep it away from heat and heated equipment. Avoid putting the ciabatta in the refrigerator since it will quickly dry out.

Adverse Effects

Hypernatremia

Ciabatta contains a high amount of sodium. Too much sodium in the blood is called hypernatremia. Hence, it is essential to control your portions to reduce the risk of high sodium levels in the blood. It will help avoid adverse effects. 

Allergies

Though it is infrequent, ciabatta can cause allergic reactions. It generally occurs from a wheat allergy or gluten intolerance.  A study found that such allergies can cause diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and severe gastrointestinal distress.

Kidney Disorders

Ciabatta contains high amounts of sodium. Studies suggest that it is harmful to people with kidney diseases. When kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood the way they should, they must work harder to excrete sodium. As a result, the condition can become worse. So, if you have kidney disease, you should avoid consuming ciabatta. 

Hypertension

Several studies recognise and support the relationship between hypertension and dietary sodium intake. Research suggests that high blood pressure can promote atherosclerosis (hardening and thickening of the arteries), resulting in heart attack, stroke, or other issues. Blood vessels can weaken and expand as a result of high blood pressure.

Inflammation

Several studies suggest that carbohydrate nutrition is related to oxidative stress and inflammatory markers. However, it is best to check with your doctor to rule out the chances of any adverse effects, especially for adults and women. However, it will be more prone when you use commercial bread or the ones made using refined flour.

Summary

Ciabatta is one of the most popular types of bread. It contains various nutrients such as carbohydrates, sodium, fibre, vitamins, etc. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, prevents type-II diabetes, and decreases the risk of Crohn’s Disease. Furthermore, It also improves bone, heart, and brain health. Besides being an excellent energy source, it can be a great addition to your diet for weight management and enhancing immunity. However, overconsumption of ciabatta can cause digestive issues, obesity, kidney disorders, hypertension, inflammation, allergies, and hypertension. Hence, it is best to consume it in moderation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is ciabatta healthier than sourdough?

A. The nutritional value of sourdough bread and ciabatta bread depends on the flour used. However, the higher number of acids in sourdough bread boosts our body’s ability to absorb the nutrients in sourdough bread better. At the same time, ciabatta is an excellent source of carbohydrates and provides energy.

Q. Is ciabatta better for you?

A. Yes, it is. If you consume ciabatta in moderation and with the right foods, it can offer various health benefits. Ciabatta contains multiple essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins such as carbohydrates, proteins, iron, sodium, and vitamins B1 and B3. Hence, its consumption helps improve overall health.

Q. Is ciabatta healthier than bread?

A. Ciabatta bread is relatively high in carbohydrates than other bread forms. However, it has adequate fibre, sugar, protein, and essential vitamins for a healthy diet. As a result, it is an excellent source of energy. Although ciabatta has the same fundamental elements as other bread, it is more nutritious than white bread because it uses whole grains. However, as per experts, multigrain bread is a healthier option. 

Q. Is ciabatta high in protein?

A. As per UDSA, around 100 grams of ciabatta bread contains only 8.9 g of protein. However, the protein content depends on the flour. But, since usually, people make it using whole grains, it can be a healthier source of protein than other bread.

Q. Is ciabatta high in gluten?

A. Yes, it is high in gluten as foods made from wheat have the highest amounts of gluten. It gives ciabatta bread a good texture and flavour.

Q. Is ciabatta high GI?

A. As per the data, ciabatta is high in GI as it has high carbohydrates. Foods with a high GI rating are quickly digested and release glucose into the system.

Q. Does ciabatta have added sugar?

A. It doesn’t have a high amount of added sugar. However, it depends on the preparation. But, as per UDSA, around 100 grams of ciabatta bread contains only 1.79 g of sugar.

Q. Is ciabatta good for weight loss?

A. Moderate consumption of ciabatta can help manage weight. It is a rich source of dietary fibre. Dietary fibre can regulate energy intake, thus enhancing weight loss. In addition, since fibre needs more chewing, it can take longer for your stomach to digest. Therefore, it helps burn calories and increase satiety. Both these factors help lose body fat.

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