Food & Nutrition

Breaking Bread

What you should know about your bread choices
Hasandra Heyward, M.S., certified heath and nutrition educator

Many people just assume that if it says “wheat” on their bread’s packaging, it’s healthy, but there’s more to it than that. Here, we answered your bread questions to help you select the healthiest kind of bread.

Q: What kind of wheat bread should we be eating?
A: Choose wheat bread that says it is made with 100-percent whole grains, which will offer you the highest fiber content. We should all be getting at least 25-30 grams of fiber per day, but the average American barely gets half of that because most of the over-processed foods we eat are depleted of fiber. A “multi-grain” product also can pack on a variety of nutrients.

Q: Is organic bread a healthier choice?
A: While choosing organic bread sounds ideal for your health, pay close attention to the label. The grains may be organic, but processing, inferior oils and other additives may not make them a best choice.

Q: We noticed bread in the freezer at our grocery store. What is that?
A: These are sprouted breads, and they are flourless. Sprouted breads are fiber-rich and have 300 to 1,200 percent more protein, vitamins, enzymes and minerals than milled-flour breads because the sprouting makes nutrients available in their whole, natural form.

Q: What does it mean when the packaging says the bread is “enriched”?
A: Avoid any bread that says “refined” or “enriched” on the packaging/ingredient label. This means that in the production of flour, the nutrient-rich bran and germ were removed to help improve the product’s shelf life. To compensate for the loss, breads are then enriched with iron, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin, but the quality of those nutrients is not known, so you mostly are left with empty carbohydrates.

Q: Is “white wheat” essentially the same thing as regular wheat bread, just without the brown color?
A: Don’t buy anything that’s called “white wheat.” It’s as far from nature as you can get, and most likely contains refined white flour with dough conditioners, flavorings, color agents, leavening agents, preservatives, refined and hydrogenated oils, sugars and texture enhancers. Doesn’t sound so yummy anymore, does it?

Karina Timmel contributed to this article.