How to Choose the Healthiest Bread

Family buying groceries in bread isle

There are an infinite number of breads, each one is different and has the necessary health properties for each type of person. Follow these five steps to choose the healthiest bread for you!

1. Understand the label:
Young woman reading labels while grocery shoppingThe first step is to learn to read the nutritional information label[1] paying attention to the following data:

Identifies the size of the portion and the total number of portions that there are in the packet. When it comes about bread this generally specifies the number of slices.

Check the quantity of calories (kcal) that each portion provides. Calories are the unit used to specify the energy provided by foods. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration(FDA) standards less than 40 kcal is considered low in calories, 100 kcal is considered moderate, and 400 kcal is considered high. A high-calorie food is not necessarily “bad for your health” if it is also high in nutrients and you are also a physically active person.

The American Heart Associationrecommends consuming no more than 13 grams of saturated fats (such as butter and palm oil) and no more than 1,500 mg of sodium, and also recommends avoiding the consumption of trans fats (from margarine and hydrogenated oils for example). So it is important to identify the amount of total fat and salt contained in each portion so that it is not greater than the recommended amount.

2. Check the list of ingredients:
Did you know that the ingredients on food labels are shown from greatest to lowest quantity? In this section you can check if your bread has food additives, added sugar, and salt. In some cases ingredients like salt can be shown as sodium benzoate o monosodium glutamate (MSG).

3. Limit the added sugar:
Bread is usually made with flour from a cereal grain such as wheat and rye, a raising agent, and water; but sugars can often be added to improve the flavor. If sugar is the first word you find in the list of ingredients you probably want to look for another type of bread. Sometimes the added sugar, which is not found naturally in the cereals, can have several names like fructose, corn syrup, galactose, maltitol, maltodextrin, malt syrup, maltose, glucose, and rice syrup.[1]

4. Obtain the benefits of whole grains:
Always prefer bread that contains the whole wheat husk such as whole wheat bread or whole grain bread or even multigrain bread. Look for the word “whole” in the list of ingredients after the cereal to which it refers. You can also identify whole grain breads with the “Whole Grain Stamp” developed by the Whole Grain Council.
Whole grains protect the heart, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, improve intestinal microbiota, and help maintain ideal body weight.[2] Theyare richin dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins.

5. Get stuck into the fiber:
High-fiber breads contain at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. Dietary fiber such as wheat bran improves digestion and reduces the risk of colorectal cancer, obesity, and heart disease.[3]

Finally, there are also breads that contain added fiber such as inulin, which is a natural plant soluble fiber that acts as a powerful prebiotic, which is beneficial in maintaining the balance of the intestinal microflora.[4]