The problem is not bread itself, but the TYPE and AMOUNT of bread that can be harmful to health and lead to unwanted weight gain. Having a solid understanding of what bread is best can help you include it as part of a healthy diet. Here is everything you need to know about choosing the healthiest bread.
Bread gets a bad rap, especially with the ever-growing “gluten-free” trend. The truth is, whole wheat bread can provide you with an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It’s choosing the right bread that is always the challenge for people. In general, people eat too much “wheat” - often times the enriched, bleached, white version that contains little to no vitamins, minerals or fiber. Contrary to popular belief, it is not gluten that’s the issue with weight gain, (unless of course you have Celiac’s disease, then it’s extremely important you avoid), but rather the additives, artificial flavors and colors, and bleached flours leading to a lack of nutrients.
Bread Food Label Mysteries Solved:
- When picking out the healthiest bread, look for the term “100% whole”. If it just gives the claim as being “whole grain” without that “100%”, it means it really only contains 51% or more (but not 100%) whole grain ingredients. The rest is likely a combination of refined (processed) flours, leading to a lower fiber and less nutritious product.
- Bread manufacturers try to trick you by using misleading “health” words such as: multi-grain, 7-grain, 12-grain, stone-ground wheat, and more. None of these words actually mean it is 100% whole grain. Another marketing trick is the term “100% natural”. This does not mean whole wheat or whole grain, and the term natural does not even have a strict definition by the FDA. It is often confused with the term “organic”, however does not mean the same thing.
- You will notice breads of all different sizes. To know you’re eating the correct portion size, one slice of bread should be around 15 grams of carbohydrates and contain about 3-5 grams of fiber.
- LOW CALORIE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER! Did you read that? I beg you to stop buying 45-calorie bread just because it’s lower carb and calorie. Those high-fiber carbs and fulfilling calories are stripped of the bread and replaced with emulsifiers, preservatives, and dough conditioners. Meaning, yes, you aren’t eating as many calories, however you’re also not eating real food.
- If you see these words listed on the ingredient list, avoid this bread: enriched, bleached, or additives such as DATEM, mono- and diglycerides, azodicarbonamide, caramel coloring, partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), sucralose (splenda), sugar, corn syrup, or corn sweetener. The first ingredient listed should be whole wheat flour.
Here’s a comparison between a wheat 45-calorie bread on the market vs. one of my favorite brands, Ezekiel bread. Notice how many of the additives I just mentioned to avoid are used in the 45-calorie bread.
45-Calorie Wheat Bread Nutrition Info:
Ezekiel 100% Whole Grain Bread:
- A few other healthy options include buying 100% whole wheat bread fresh from the bakery, or even better, make your own at home! Here’s an awesome recipe for making your own whole wheat bread.
- One way to tell how healthy the bread is for you is to see how long it lasts before getting moldy. If it’s loaded with preservatives, that bread will last several weeks to even a month. If it’s fresh from the bakery or with no preservatives (such as Ezekiel brand), it will need to be used up within a week before getting moldy. Can’t eat a loaf that quickly before it goes bad? Keep half wrapped up in the freezer and the other half on your counter. It will stay good for a very long time if kept in your freezer.
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