Which Bread is Best?

Dave told me earlier this week that around 9am every morning he has a Pavlov’s dog response and his body expects to be fed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Unless he takes leftovers with him, I usually pack some other type of sandwich like ham & cheese or a tuna fish sandwich. We go through a lot of bread. If you want to read what else we pack, you’ll have to read my post about packing lunches but today, it’s all about BREAD.

What have you heard about bread? Wheat is good, white is bad…or if you read Michael Pollan’s book Food Rules, you’d say “the whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.” There are too many types of bread out there and it’s hard to figure out which bread is best. I’ll start with some myths and relieve you with some tips…

Myth
#1: If it sounds healthy, it’s probably healthy
Hm, this bread says it’s 100% natural. You know what else is 100% natural? Dirt. Just because the name of the bread sounds super healthy doesn’t mean it is. Take 7-grain and 12-grain breads for example; it’s got whole wheat flour, oats, brown rice and other grains, but the first ingredient is unbleached enriched flour. That means it’s no longer considered a whole grain since it’s been stripped of its bran and germ. By enriching the flour some nutrients are added back in, but it still doesn’t match up to good ol’ whole-wheat flour. This Aunt Millie’s 12-grain has water as the first ingredient, but whole grain wheat flour does come in second…so not all are phonies. Just read your ingredient labels.

INGREDIENTS: WATER, WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT FLOUR, UNBLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR, OAT FIBER, SUGAR, RESISTANT CORN STARCH, WHEAT GLUTEN, SOYBEAN OIL, SUNFLOWER SEEDS, HONEY, RESISTANT DEXTRIN, CORNMEAL, SESAME SEEDS, WHOLE GRAIN TRITICALE, WHOLE GRAIN OATMEAL, VINEGAR, WHOLE GRAIN RYE MEAL, YEAST, RAISIN JUICE, BARLEY FLAKES, WHOLE GRAIN MILLET, BUCKWHEAT FLOUR, SALT SUBSTITUTE* (SALT, SODIUM GLUCONATE AND POTASSIUM CHLORIDE), RICE FLOUR, FLAX SEED, GUAR GUM, WHEAT STARCH, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR…..

 

Myth #2: If it looks brown or has the word “wheat” in the name, it’s good for you
Again with the first ingredient…if it says “wheat flour” or “enriched bleached flour” or something like that, it means that white flour is the primary ingredient used, not whole-wheat flour. You’ll see other tricks like “cracked wheat with whole grains.” Whole grains are further down the list, but white flour still ranks number one.

Myth #3: “Diet” or “Light” bread is better
“Light” usually means a smaller serving size. If I had to define it, I would say it means less bread, more air. If you really want a lower-calorie sandwich but need to have 2 slices of bread, go for it, but I find it funny that I could squish the entire loaf into the size of two pieces of regular bread. You can still find 100% whole wheat light bread…I guess this myth is more of a personal preference.

Bread tip #1: 100% wins
Not “whole wheat.” You want “100% whole wheat” or “100% whole grain.” Best tip I can give you, hands down… I didn’t even need to write this long post. If it’s really 100%, you’ll see whole-wheat flour as the first ingredient listed. Why do I keep pushing whole grains? They’re naturally low in fat, cholesterol free, contain lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and contain a good source of protein.

Bread tip #2: Stay under 200 a slice
200 calories? I’d hope so…but I mean 200mg sodium, aka salt. While bread can provide a great source of nutrients, some brands tend to pack in the sodium. Since the recommendation is to stay under 2,000mg a day for most people, bread can add a significant sodium contribution if it’s a big part of your diet.

Bread tip #3: Check your serving size
50 calories a slice!? Awesome! Wait a minute… it tastes like air with a hint of sawdust. On the other extreme, some heartier breads can pack in 120 calories per slice. Depending on what you’re putting on the bread, calories can add up. Take a look at the weight on the serving listed. Some can weigh a measly 15 grams or a hefty 45 grams.

What brand am I loyal to? Sometimes I choose Nature’s Pride if I find a good deal, but I usually buy Koepplinger’s 100% Whole Wheat bread. The first ingredient: whole-grain wheat flour. 135mg sodium. 80 calories per 30-gram slice. I can usually find it at the store for $1.80 a loaf. The downfall to this bread is that it contains sugar, molasses, and corn syrup in the ingredient list along with a crappy man-made oil, soybean oil.

In summary- some breads are healthier than others. However, the best diet contains healthy fats, quality protein, and the main carbohydrate source from vegetables and fruit.

What’s your favorite brand/type of bread?