Food Comparisons Food Myths Nutrition Tips

How to Choose Healthy Store-Bought Bread

bread

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:

Wheat
  • 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?

You Might Also Like...

2 Comments

  • Reply
    shelley
    August 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.

  • Reply
    Sarah
    April 28, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    What type of flour do you recommend for baking?

Leave a Reply