While the majority of Americans (54%) have maintained their bread consumption habits over the past year, the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets has taken its toll on the industry. Some 40% of respondents to research conducted by the National Bread Leadership Council (NBLC—Providence, R.I.) report they are consuming less bread than a year ago.

Of those who have dropped bread from their diets, nearly two thirds say they are trying to limit their daily intake of carbohydrates. If the responses are any indication, however, limiting carbs may not be the whole story. Some 31% simply choose foods other than bread when consuming carbohydrates, while 12% do not like bread as much.

The NBLC is concerned about the attitudes of the 20% who said they do not regard bread as healthful. The group is quick to note that there may be a lack of understanding of the proven health benefits of bread. Even among carbohydrate sources, bread did not fare well with respondents. Asked to identify “good” or “healthy” carbohydrates, 69% chose rice, and 49% opted for potatoes. Pasta also finished ahead of bread, with 46%.

The NBLC notes that dietitians and nutritionists regard whole grain bread as a proven source of such vital nutrients as fiber, vitamins and minerals. Most respondents to the survey, however, did not recognize grains such as bread, cereal, rice and pasta as the base of the USDA's Food Guide Pyramid. While 28% said vegetables should be consumed more per day, 37% believed fruits form the base of the pyramid.