Bread consumption is undeniable in most parts of the world. We include bread in our breakfast, lunch, dinner and many of the snacks we consume throughout the day. Although bread is an important source of carbohydrates, which are metabolised into energy for optimal body function, some breads are loaded with hidden sugars, trans and saturated fat. Choosing a whole-wheat bread is a good choice for everyone, but there are also a variety of options for those who are either allergic to gluten, or are seeking an alternative to whole-wheat breads.
Look for whole-wheat
The common misconception when choosing a healthy bread is that if it looks healthy it is healthy. This means when you peruse through the aisles of your local grocery store and you see a bread that is dark brown, you should not automatically assume that it is healthier for you. Many brown breads are synthetically dyed brown to look healthier. The key is to look on the ingredient list and check to see if the first ingredient reads: 100% whole-wheat. If you see the ingredient “enriched-flour”, stay clear.
Watch out for sodium
Major health organisations and dietary guidelines from around the world suggest that limiting our daily sodium intake to around 1500-2300mg a day is an important part of a healthy diet. According to one study, one in four breads sold in the UK contain as much as a bag of chips. The worst part is that many of these loaves are marketed as healthier options. Some of the saltiest loaves of bread can contain as much as 2.83g of sodium per 100g of bread. If you are shopping for healthy breads, make sure you check out the salt content before you choose a bread that just looks healthy. If the bread contains less than 0.58g of sodium, its the first sign that you are choosing a healthier bread.
Ezekiel or sprouted bread
If you are sensitive to bread then Ezekeil bread may be a good option for a healthier alternative in comparison to most starchy breads. Ezekiel contains no added sugar, which is rare compared to most breads. The process used to make it involves sprouted grains, which changes the overall composition of its nutrients, making it a healthier and more natural alternative. Most commercial brands of bread contained a high level of refined wheat, Ezekiel bread contains none. When shopping for a healthier bread alternative, check with your local organic markets for a label that reads Ezekiel Bread or sprouted bread.
New research is supporting the idea that sourdough bread is easier to digest in comparison to most commercial breads on the market. This may be due to the fermentation process it takes to make a single loaf of sourdough bread. The lactic acids contained in a loaf of sourdough help the body to absorb vitamins and minerals and helps to decrease the amount of bloat and gas that bread consumers often complain of. Sourdough is more difficult to find. If you want to purchase a loaf of sourdough, try seeking out a local artisan market or health food shop. Although sourdough is not the most economical option, it is on the list as being one of the most healthiest and easy to digest.
Avoid the following ingredients
When choosing a healthy bread, it is best to read the nutrition fact label on the back of the loaf. A good way to avoid buying unhealthy bread is to watch out for the following ingredients:
- Breads with refined sugars, in specific high fructose corn syrup
- Any type of artificial or added sweeteners
- Hydrogenated oils or trans fat
Best store-bought breads
There are may options for buying breads in your local super market. The key is to keep in mind the advice given above and use the guide below to choose the healthiest bread on the market. The following list are breads that have been rated by consumers and nutritionists for providing both flavour and overal health content.
- Ezekiel/Sprouted Bread
- Silver Hills Mack´s Flax
- Sara Lee´s Hearty and Delicious 100% Whole Wheat
- Warburtons Fruit Loaf with Orange
- Genius Gluten-Free Bread
- Earth Grains Natural 7-Grain.