The latest dietary fad to take the world by storm is that of grain-free, gluten-free, low-carb “cloud” bread. The recipe, which was brought to the virtual table by food bloggers like Momables and The Big Apple Mama, calls for just three ingredients: eggs, softened cream cheese, and cream of tartar, with a dash of honey for added sweetness if desired.
According to some, the end product has a crispy texture when it comes out of the oven, then becomes soft and chewy when stored overnight in a sealable plastic container. Others say the end product ends up being a soggy mess that tastes like an omelette rather than bread.
But is it actually good for you?
According to Health‘s contributing nutrition editor Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, it is fine to have as an occasional treat, but “definitely not a good idea to eat it instead of whole grain bread, in an effort to clean up your diet or lose weight,” she says.
“Just because a recipe is grain-free or low-carb doesn’t automatically make it healthy, or mean that portions don’t matter,” Sass explained.
“In cloud bread, the grain flour is primarily replaced with eggs and cream cheese, and the latter isn’t a food I recommend upping your intake of,” she said, since cream cheese is high in saturated fat.
While cloud bread may have fewer calories than whole grain bread (about 40 calories per slice versus 80), it lacks many of the nutrients in the real deal—like fiber, which has been shown to help lower blood sugar, cut cholesterol, and reduce colon cancer risk.
Whole grains offer a slew of other health benefits, too. They deliver essential minerals and vitamins, aid digestion, help reduce belly fat, even protect your teeth and gums.
“If you are sensitive to grains, however, there are other alternatives more nutritious than cloud bread,” Sass said. She recommends bread made with flour that comes from pulses, like chickpeas, or starchy vegetables, like potatoes.
“Aim to cut back on carbs instead of completely eliminating them,” she said. “If you’re craving bread, choose one with nutrient-rich, whole food ingredients, rather than processed ingredients. And stick to one slice rather than two.”