Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Are Baked Rolls Bad For You?

Also Known As: Bread rolls, Dinner rolls



Short answer

Baked rolls are not bad for you if consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Whole grain varieties are healthier, providing more fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, white rolls have a higher glycemic index, which can affect blood sugar levels. For those with gluten sensitivities, gluten-free options are necessary. Store-bought rolls often contain additives and preservatives; opting for homemade or rolls with fewer additives is advisable. Moderation and awareness of ingredients are key to including baked rolls in a healthy diet.



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Long answer

Nutritional Content of Baked Rolls

The nutritional value of baked rolls can vary considerably based on ingredients, portion size, and preparation methods. It's important to examine the macronutrient distribution, as well as the presence of vitamins and minerals, to gauge how they fit into a balanced diet.


  • Calories: A typical white bread roll contains between 120-180 calories. Whole wheat or multigrain varieties may have slightly more due to their higher fiber content.
  • Carbohydrates: On average, a roll can have 20-30 g of carbohydrates, primarily from starches. Varieties made with refined flour have less dietary fiber and a higher glycemic index compared to those made with whole grains.
  • Proteins: Baked rolls provide about 3-5 g of protein, depending on size and the type of flour used.
  • Fats: Fat content is relatively low, generally around 1-2 g, unless fats are added during baking, such as butter.

Micronutrients: Many baked rolls are made with enriched flour, which has had certain vitamins and minerals added back after processing. They typically contain iron and B vitamins (like folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine). However, the process of enrichment does not replace all the nutrients lost during the refinement of the grains.

Dietary Fiber: Fiber is essential for digestive health and helps with satiety. Whole grain rolls offer more fiber, about 2-4 g per serving, which can aid in maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Sugar Content: Some rolls, especially those labeled as "sweet" or "soft", may contain added sugars, contributing to their calorie content without providing any nutritional benefits.

Salt: Sodium content in baked rolls can be significant, ranging from 150-300 mg per roll. People with hypertension or those trying to limit their salt intake should be mindful of this.

To provide a more precise nutritional breakdown, let's look at an example of the nutritional content in a standard white bread roll versus a whole grain roll:

Nutrient White Bread Roll (1 medium) Whole Grain Roll (1 medium)
Calories 140 170
Carbohydrates (g) 25 30
Dietary Fiber (g) 1 4
Proteins (g) 4 6
Fats (g) 1.5 2
Sugars (g) 2 3
Sodium (mg) 230 270

Given this nutritional information, consumers should consider the roles that these rolls play in their overall diet. The choice between white and whole grain can impact your intake of fiber, vitamins, and minerals significantly.

For individuals with dietary restrictions or health concerns, homemade or artisanal rolls with known ingredients could prove beneficial. For example, using whole grains, reducing sodium, and avoiding added sugars can make baked rolls a healthier choice.

In moderation, baked rolls can be included as part of a balanced diet, when paying close attention to the type and serving size. For those aiming for a more nutrient-dense diet, opting for whole grain varieties and being mindful of the condiments or fillings used with the rolls is advisable.

When analyzing the nutritional content of baked rolls, it's clear that not all rolls are created equal. By understanding the differences in their nutritional profiles, one can make informed choices that align with their health goals and dietary needs.

Glycemic Index and Blood Sugar Effects from Baked Rolls

The glycemic index (GI) is a valuable tool for understanding how different foods affect blood sugar levels. It measures how quickly carbohydrates in foods are absorbed into the bloodstream and converted into glucose. Baked rolls, like many bread products, are primarily made of refined flour, which tends to have a high glycemic index. Consuming foods with a high GI can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, which may be a concern for individuals managing diabetes or looking to maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day.

Typically, the average white baked roll has a GI score of around 70 to 90, categorizing it as high on the glycemic index. However, the blood sugar impact of baked rolls can vary depending on certain factors:

  • Ingredients: The presence of whole grains, nuts, seeds, or fiber in baked rolls can lower their glycemic index.
  • Preparation: The method of preparation also influences the GI. For instance, sourdough fermentation can lower the GI of bread.
  • Accompaniments: Eating baked rolls with protein or healthy fats can help stabilize blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates.

For those concerned with blood sugar management, opting for baked rolls made from whole grains or with added fiber can help mitigate the potential effects on blood sugar levels. Additionally, individuals can look into versions that incorporate low GI ingredients like oats, barley, or bran.

It's important to note that even with these considerations, portion control remains crucial. Consuming large quantities of high-GI foods, even in a more balanced form, can still contribute to blood sugar elevation. Therefore, moderation is key when incorporating baked rolls into a health-conscious diet.

Research has indicated that diets consisting of primarily low-GI foods can offer several health benefits, especially for those with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that low-GI diets can improve glycemic control and lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 1

It is advisable for individuals with diabetes or prediabetes to consult with a registered dietitian or healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate dietary choices in line with their glycemic control objectives.

1. Brand-Miller, J., Hayne, S., Petocz, P., & Colagiuri, S. (2003). Low–glycemic index diets in the management of diabetes: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 78(3), 517-523.

The Role of Gluten in Baked Rolls and Sensitivity Concerns

Gluten, a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye, plays a critical role in the texture and structure of baked rolls. It's responsible for the chewy, airy qualities that many people love in bread products. During the baking process, gluten proteins provide elasticity and strength, trapping gas bubbles and allowing the dough to rise effectively.

However, for a segment of the population, gluten can pose significant health concerns. Conditions such as celiac disease, wheat allergy, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) can turn the simple act of eating a baked roll into a problematic experience.

  • Celiac Disease: A serious autoimmune disorder where ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine, affecting approximately 1% of the population worldwide. Symptoms can range from gastrointestinal distress to neurological complications.
  • Wheat Allergy: An immune response to wheat proteins, distinct from celiac disease, which can cause reactions such as hives, congestion, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis.
  • Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS): A condition that presents symptoms similar to celiac disease but without the associated intestinal damage. The prevalence of NCGS is not well-defined, but it’s estimated to affect between 0.5% and 13% of the population.

For individuals with these conditions, consuming gluten can lead to a plethora of symptoms, necessitating gluten-free dietary patterns. It's important to note that while some symptoms can be acute and severe, others may be chronic and more subtle, potentially leading to nutrient deficiencies and quality of life reductions over time.

Research continues to shed light on the nuances of gluten-related disorders. A study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology emphasized the need for proper diagnosis and management of gluten-related conditions to avoid unnecessary dietary restrictions or continued exposure to gluten in misdiagnosed cases.

Beyond medical conditions, there's a growing trend in opting for gluten-free diets even among those who do not have a diagnosed sensitivity or allergy. While some individuals report feeling better on a gluten-free diet, it's important to consider that this may be due to a reduction in processed foods often eliminated alongside gluten.

In summary, while gluten is an essential component in traditional baked rolls, contributing to their desirable qualities, it can be a source of discomfort or health risks for those with gluten-related disorders. Awareness and understanding of individual sensitivities are key when determining if baked rolls are a suitable part of one's diet.

Additives and Preservatives in Store-Bought Baked Rolls

When exploring the health impact of store-bought baked rolls, it's essential to delve into the additives and preservatives commonly found within them. These ingredients can have a varying degree of effects on our bodies, some being benign, while others may raise health concerns.

Firstly, many baked rolls contain emulsifiers such as monoglycerides and diglycerides, which are fats used to maintain texture and extend shelf life. While usually considered safe, some emulsifiers have been linked in studies to gut microbiota changes that could potentially contribute to inflammation.

Baked rolls may also include preservatives like calcium propionate, which prevents mold growth. While approved for use, there has been research suggesting it could be linked to irritability, restlessness, and sleep disturbances in some individuals, especially children.

Sodium stearoyl lactylate, another common additive aimed at strengthening dough, is generally recognized as safe by health authorities. However, it's worth noting that individuals with milk sensitivities should be cautious, as it can contain trace amounts of lactose.

It's also not uncommon to find artificial colors or flavors added to improve the perceived freshness and appeal of baked rolls. While these ingredients have been tested for safety, concerns persist about their potential long-term health effects, and certain colorants have been associated in research with hyperactivity in children.

Here are some additives to be mindful of when reading labels on store-bought baked rolls:

  • Emulsifiers: Monoglycerides, Diglycerides
  • Preservatives: Calcium Propionate, Sodium Benzoate
  • Dough Strengtheners: Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Azodicarbonamide
  • Artificial Colors: Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6
  • Flavor Enhancers: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Understanding these additives and their potential implications can help consumers make informed decisions about their dietary intake. It’s important to bear in mind that the long-term health effects of synthetic additives are still being researched, and the effects may vary depending on individual health status and the quantity consumed. Therefore, moderation and awareness of these ingredients are advisable, particularly for those who have sensitivities or underlying health conditions.

Experts, including dietitians and healthcare professionals, generally recommend opting for baked rolls with minimal ingredients and avoiding those with an extensive list of additives. Baking rolls at home can provide a healthier alternative by allowing control over the ingredients used, effectively limiting exposure to unnecessary additives and preservatives.

Frequently asked questions

Light or diet baked rolls might be lower in calories and carbohydrates, which can be appealing for weight management. However, it is crucial to check the ingredients list, as these products might contain added fibers or artificial ingredients to achieve the desired texture and taste. It's important to consider the overall nutritional value and ingredient quality, not just the calorie content, when choosing a healthier bread option.

No, individuals with gluten sensitivity such as celiac disease, wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) need to avoid traditional baked rolls that contain wheat, barley, or rye. Instead, they should opt for gluten-free alternatives made with ingredients that do not trigger their condition. Not all baked rolls are gluten-free, so it's important for people with sensitivities to check the labels or make their own using gluten-free recipes.

White bread rolls generally contain between 120-180 calories, with a typical medium roll having about 140 calories. Whole grain rolls may contain slightly more calories due to their higher fiber content, and a standard medium whole grain roll provides approximately 170 calories. This difference in calorie content is something consumers may want to consider when choosing between white and whole grain varieties.

Baked rolls with added seeds and nuts can be healthier as they typically offer more nutritional value. Seeds and nuts can increase the protein, healthy fat, and fiber content of the rolls, and they may also contain essential vitamins and minerals. These additional ingredients can contribute to a lower glycemic index and better satiety levels, which are beneficial for blood sugar control and maintaining a healthy weight.

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Possible short-term side effects

  • irritability
  • restlessness
  • sleep disturbances
  • blood sugar spikes
  • gastrointestinal distress
  • allergic reactions
  • hyperactivity in children

Possible long-term side effects

  • inflammation of gut microbiota
  • nutrient deficiencies
  • quality of life reductions
  • chronic health issues with gluten disorders

Ingredients to be aware of


  • provides energy
  • contains essential nutrients
  • whole grain options can aid in healthy weight
  • low-gi varieties can improve glycemic control

Healthier alternatives

  • whole grain rolls
  • homemade or artisanal rolls with known ingredients
  • low-gi ingredient options
  • gluten-free varieties for those with sensitivities

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Mary's Gone Crackers

  • Organic ingredients
  • Rich in seeds
  • Gluten-free
  • Non-GMO
  • Wholesome snacks
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 03-01-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 03-01-2024

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