When it comes to buying bread you almost need an advanced degree to figure out what you're really getting. Every label claims to be "whole wheat" or "whole grain" but is it really? Picking out a healthy whole grain bread can be difficult. The following are some tips to ensure you get the healthiest when bread shopping:
Whole Wheat vs. Refined
Choose whole grain because it keeps all three parts of grain. “Refined,” “milled” and white breads have the bran and some of the germ removed, so it doesn’t contain fiber. Whole wheat and whole rye are some common whole-grain breads, but read the label to get the real deal.
Read the Labels
Make sure the first ingredient listed has the word “whole” — like whole rye, whole wheat or whole cornmeal. Don't be tricked by packaging that syas, “made with whole grains,” “made with whole wheat,” “multigrain,” “contains wheat flour” or “contains unbleached flour” — this means only a small percent of the bread contains whole grains (not enough for any significant health benefits).
Find bread without high-fructose corn syrup listed in the top 4 ingredients. Finding bread completely free of the sweetener can be even more challenging. Sometimes you may also see cheese added to the mix.
Here’s a summary of some common breads you can find:
• Whole Wheat: Look for the words “100% whole wheat” on the package, and the ingredients should list “whole-wheat flour” as the first ingredient.
• Multigrain: As the name implies, it’s made from many grains — this doesn’t mean that they’re whole grains. Even if the package says that it contains wheat — it may only make up 2 or 3% of the bread. If the label lists “enriched wheat flour” as the first grain, it’s not the real deal.
• Brown Bread: Just because it’s brown doesn’t mean it’s healthier. Many companies add food coloring or molasses to create that brown color.
• Potato Bread: This bread barely has any fiber. Plus, potato flour is usually the fifth or so ingredient (“enriched wheat flour” is typically the first ingredient and there’s often dairy in there). Calories range from around 80 to 100 per slice, so watch your portions, too.
What To Choose
Aim for 110 calories or less per slice and at least 3 grams of fiber. If you have the time, bake your own — you can freeze extras for later.
Reference: Aisle by Aisle: Buying Healthy Bread by Toby Amidor from the FoodNetwork.com
What are your favorite whole wheat breads? Do you have a good recipe for some homemade? Tell us.