Do you find it difficult to choose a bread? Are some better for you than others? We see all sorts of terms like, whole wheat, whole grain and multigrain when walking down the bread aisle in the grocery store. But what do all these terms mean? Is there a difference and which one should you choose?
Here are 4 tips to help you make the healthiest choice when selecting bread.
1. Select whole grain breads
A research study conducted by Harvard found that people who consumed the most whole grains (70 grams per day or approximately 4 servings) had an overall lower risk of premature death. In addition, this risk was lower when compared between individuals who consumed little or no whole grains to those who did.
So you might be thinking, what is the difference between whole grain breads and other breads?
Whole grain breads are made using the entire grain. The grain has three main parts: the bran, germ and endosperm.
The bran provides fibre, the germ provides vitamins/minerals and healthy fats, and the endosperm provides carbohydrates and some protein. White bread is made using refined flour, that is, flour that only contains the endosperm layer of the grain and lacks fibre, vitamins, and healthy fats (it is mainly made up of carbohydrates).
When selecting whole grain breads, it is important to make sure that the packaging either says 100% whole grain bread or that the first ingredient is a whole grain. Some terms that are used to refer to whole grains include “whole grain whole wheat flour”, “whole oat”, “whole rye” and other grains that begin with “whole”. It is also great if the bread says "whole grain including the germ", which suggests the entire grain is being used in the bread.
Keep in mind that multigrain and whole wheat breads are not necessarily whole grain breads. Multigrain means the bread contains more than one type of grain, but there is no guarantee that those grains are whole grains, so always check the ingredient list to be sure. Whole wheat breads tend to be a decent choice as well if they contain at least 4g of fibre per serving.
2. Look at the fibre content (2g per slice of bread)
Canadian women need approximately 25 g of fibre per day and men need 38 g of fibre per day. Unfortunately, most Canadians are only getting half of their daily requirements. Fibre aids in lowering blood cholesterol levels, helps promote bowel regularity, and can help you feel satisfied post meal.
Whole grain breads tend to be a good source of fibre, as the bran layer is providing fibre. In addition, many breads contain additional fibre because of ingredients such as flaxseed or other grains and seeds. Be sure to look for breads with at least 2g of fibre per slice to maximize your fibre intake.
3. Select breads that are low in sodium
Bread can be a source of sodium as it is used to enhance flavour and needed during the processing process. According to Hypertension Canada, it is best to buy products that provide ≤ 5% daily value of sodium (per serving) to help promote a healthy blood pressure range. Approximately 121mg-360mg of sodium per serving is the danger zone for sodium content, so be sure to always check the nutrition table.
4. Check for added sugar
Some breads have added sugar in the form of molasses, brown sugar, white sugar, or honey. It is important to make sure that sugars are not listed in the beginning of the ingredients list, as the ingredients listed early on are present in the highest quantity. Based on new recommendations, added sugars should be limited to less than 10% of an individual’s total daily caloric intake or less than 50g. Try to look for breads with 2 grams or less added sugar per slice.
However, keep in mind sugars are often added in small amounts to multigrain breads to hold all the grains and seeds together.
I hope these tips help you choose a healthy bread the next time you are grocery shopping. I would love to hear what your favourite bread is.
Cheers to happy and healthy eating (and grocery shopping).
Until next time,
Eat Right Feel Right – Benish and Angela