August 08, 2016
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There’s no denying the aroma of freshly baked French bread as you enter your local supermarket. While it can be tempting to pick up a loaf or two, when it comes down to it, we tend to prefer the convenience and price of bagged bread.
But not all bread is created equal. Some contain high amounts of calories and preservatives. Some are high in sodium and sugar but low on fiber and protein. From wheat to whole grain to sprouted bread, find out which type of bread is the healthiest and what you should be looking for when buying bread.
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Ingredients: What to Look for in Your Bread
Source: Bon Appetit
Here are the key ingredients you should be looking at the next time you buy a loaf of bread:
- Fiber – Fiber is important so you stay full longer and so your body stays regular. You'll find fiber in your bread if it contains whole grains. Aim for bread that contains at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
- Sugar – Many breads contain sugar or honey to make them taste better, but ideally, your bread shouldn’t contain any kind of sweetener. If that’s not possible or if you’re set on buying a specific brand, try to cap the sugar at 4 grams per serving.
- Sodium – Many foods contain high amounts of sugar during processing to improve flavor and prevent spoilage. Bread is no exception. While our bodies need some salt, we don’t need too much. Aim for less than 150 mg of sodium per slice.
- Trans fats and saturated fats – These are the bad fats, so the less, the better. Go low or aim for zero, if possible.
- Preservatives – Preservatives keep bread from spoiling quickly, so most bagged bread contain some preservatives. Try the frozen section if you’re looking for best results.
- Protein – Look for a bread that contains at least 4 grams of protein.
- Calories – The fewer, the better. A good guideline is to aim for under 110 calories per slice.
Types of Bread
Source: The Organic Prepper
Think all bread is the same? Think again! Each one is different. Learn more about these five types of bread and their nutritional value.
- Wheat – Wheat bread in a bag is often highly processed and packed with preservatives. Wheat bread may seem like it’s nutritious, but it’s actually stripped of nutrients. Some nutrients are added back in, but not a lot. Out of all of these choices, plain wheat bread is the least nutritious.
- Multi-Grain – Multi-grain is also not as healthy as it seems and is not even a whole-grain product. It simply contains more than one type of grain, which could be corn and wheat. It does not contain all of the components in grain. It is, however, a bit healthier than plain wheat bread, even though the grains are stripped down.
- Whole-Wheat – Made from flour, whole-wheat bread contains all three parts of the wheat: bran, germ and endosperm. There are two types of whole-wheat bread: single-stream milled and stone-ground. Both mean that all wheat elements were kept together throughout the process and no separation occurred. Whole-wheat bread contains a good amount of fiber and is healthier than both wheat and multi-grain.
- Whole-Grain – This type of bread is similar to whole-wheat, but the main difference is that it’s made with multiple grains like rye, barley and spelt. It’s likely it contains some wheat as well. Whole-grain bread is very healthy and should be your first choice at the bread aisle of the supermarket. The more grains, the better, so load up, unless you have issues digesting grains.
- Sprouted – Unless you regularly shop at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, you may have never even heard of sprouted bread. Sprouted bread is very healthy because it not only uses the whole grain, but because the process breaks down the grain’s carbohydrates and protein, increasing vitamin content. Sprouted bread is processed in a controlled environment. This refrigerated bread is filled with whole grains and is supposedly easier to digest. It is also flourless and certified organic.
While nutrition should be a factor when you buy bread, it’s important that it tastes good as well. So if your favorite bread is wheat, and you’re not a fan of whole-grain, stick with what you like. After all, it’s better than eating a candy bar!