Not all bread is created equal.
Some breads are simple, wholesome and made with recognizable ingredients. Others are loaf-like shapes of refined grains, additives and preservatives.
Since many of us (eh-hem…me) eat sandwiches and toast with regularity, it’s important to know how to find a good store-bought bread.
Below is a guide of what to look for, as well as what brands I do and don’t recommend.
How to Choose a Healthy Store-Bought Bread
Choose breads with these terms:
100% Whole Grain
- This is ideal. Buy products that say this.
- No refined grains or refined flour were used.
- Has at least 3 grams of fiber per 100 calories.
- May include other whole grains besides wheat: oats, oat bran, spelt, flax, chia, quinoa, millet, rye, or barley.
100% Whole Wheat
- Made with only whole wheat flour, no refined flours.
- What you’ll see in the ingredients list: stone-ground whole wheat, 100% whole wheat or whole wheat.
Good Source of Fiber
- Has at least 2.5 grams of fiber per serving.
- May or may not be 100% whole grain, so also check the ingredients list.
Excellent Source of Fiber
- Has at least 5 grams of fiber and less than 3 grams of fat per serving.
- Make sure the product is also 100% whole grain, to make sure there’s not fiber being added to refined grains
Be wary of these terms:
- This means nothing. All bread (except gluten-free) is made from wheat. Look for whole wheat.
- If see “enriched wheat flour,” or “unbleached wheat flour” or “fortified wheat flour” in the ingredients list — don’t be fooled, these are not whole grains.
Extra Fiber or Added Fiber
- Watch out! — many products that are super high in fiber (like 10-25 grams/serving) have unnatural additives — and these added fibers are not as healthy as naturally occurring fiber. Plus they may cause bloating, gas, discomfort, etc.
- Good clues that a product has synthetic/fake fiber:
- The bread is white, like a “country white bread” — then it’s not whole grain. Whole grain bread will be brown.
- If the product is not the type of food that would normally have fiber (a grain, fruit, or vegetable) — like a Pop Tart, candy, beverage, or yogurt.
Made with Whole Grains
- There might be some whole grains, but the product is not 100% whole grain
- This term is used to get you to believe a product is healthy, when it probably isn’t the best choice.
Now with Whole Grains
- This doesn’t mean anything.
Breads I Love:
- Any bread whose ingredients are: water, whole wheat flour, salt.
- Food for Life breads – like Ezekial, Sesame, and 7-grain bread
- Trader Joe’s 100% whole wheat Tuscan Pane
- Dave’s Killer Bread
- Rudi’s Organic
Brands to Avoid:
- Sara Lee
- Pepperidge Farm
- Kings Hawaiian
- Thomas (including their English muffins)
- Orowheat / Arnold
- Generic /private label brands (unless the bread is organic)
Any other healthy breads you like that aren’t included here?
shelleyAugust 13, 2014 at 10:25 pm
I love when your posts include specific brand recommendations. I’ve been trying all the Dave’s Killer Breads, and I’m smitten with the spelt variety. I also love the small loaves with 60-calorie slices–that always keeps down my peanut butter consumption, too 🙂 A client offered me half a bagel a few weeks ago when I was working, and I accepted. I took one bite, and the taste and texture were doughy…I swear I could taste the filler junk! It was a Sara Lee bagel. Yuck.
SarahApril 28, 2015 at 2:36 pm
What type of flour do you recommend for baking?