Tips for Selecting Bread

February 11, 2014

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Ezekiel bread and I recently received a comment about another bread option. I decided it seemed appropriate to give you the tools to make sure you can select a good bread option.

When we talk about bread we inevitably have to talk about whole grains, and sugar. What we want is to ensure our bread is being made from whole grains. For a grain to be considered a whole it has to contain all parts of the grain. The germ, the endosperm and the bran must be present. The whole grain is no longer whole when the grain is refined by removing the bran and germ leaving the starchy endosperm. On ingredient labels you will see this white flour called enriched white flour or enriched flour. The enriched term comes from the manufacturers adding back some of the nutrients lost during the refining process.

I don’t know about you but as a consumer “enriched” flour sounds good. Don’t be fooled by marketing tactics or terms like multigrain, 100% wheat, bran, stone ground, enriched or unbleached wheat flour, semolina flour, durum flour, rice flour and the list goes on. These may sound healthy, but none actually indicate the product is a whole grain. Just ignore the front labeling and go straight to the ingredient label. You want the first ingredient on a bread option to be whole wheat flour or whole (name of grain). You don’t want to see any of the terms mentioned above.

We also want to pay attention to the sugar content. Most breads have sugar or honey added. Some bread even has molasses added to make the bread look dark like a whole grain option. This tactic tries to trick you into thinking it is probably a whole grain option, plus sugar is being added . That’s why it is important to read the ingredients. I know this can be time consuming, but do it once to find a good option. Additionally, it can be difficult to find a bread option without added sugar. Compare the sugar content on the ingredient label with other breads until you find the lowest. You could also read the ingredients to see where sugar is listed. If sugar is one of the first ingredients you know there is a lot because ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. Meaning that the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first.

I do believe there is space to include bread in your diet. Every day we continue to see studies that show benefits of whole grains. Some of these benefits include reducing stroke risk, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease and can help maintain weight. What’s important to remember is how you are choosing your bread. Make them whole!

One of my favorite breads is the 100% whole wheat sourdough bread at Trader Joes. What are your favorite breads?

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