How To Find The Healthiest Breads For Your Next Meal

By:    Published: October 11, 2011

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Because bread is a big staple in most Americans' diets, it's important to make sure that you choose a healthy one every time you go shopping. Unlike what some diet fads teach, not all carbs are bad. In fact, you can get some great nutrients and vitamins by eating bread every day. That being said, you still need to get plenty of protein, fruits and vegetables in your diet as well. But when it comes to bread, this article will provide you with all the basics on which types will give you the most health benefits.

Healthy Varieties of Bread

There are several different breads which are good for you, each of which has its own benefits and taste profiles. Below are some of the healthiest types of bread which you can eat. Keep in mind that you don't have to simply choose one type of bread. Rather, you can include different types of bread in your diet to get more nutritional benefits.

Whole Grain Bread

The key with whole grain bread is the word "whole." When breads say they contain whole grains, it means that the wheat, oats, rye, barley and corn in that bread are all intact. Each of these grains loses some of its nutrients if it is processed before being made into bread. Therefore, if you choose a whole grain bread, you know you will be getting as many nutrients out of your bread as possible. Some of the main benefits of whole grain, in addition to providing your body with essential nutrients, are helping to control blood sugar levels, reduce blood cholesterol and prevent weight gain. Whole grain bread also provides a significant amount of dietary fiber, which helps the digestive system function properly and prevents spikes in your blood glucose levels. Therefore, whole grain bread can also lower your risk for certain digestive issues, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Flax Bread

Bread made from flaxseed is great for your health thanks to the many health benefits of flaxseed itself. This type of grain contains tons of great nutrients, fiber, lignans and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Additionally, flax bread tends to be quite low in calories when compared to some other bread varieties. Flax bread is considered one of the healthiest options because flaxseed can help reduce your total cholesterol, provide relief from constipation and even help prevent serious health conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Flax bread is often found in health stores and in some specialty bakeries.

Raw Bread

Although it is much harder to find in stores or bakeries, raw bread is one of the healthiest types of bread you can eat. This type of bread is referred to as "raw" because it is not baked in an oven. Instead, it is typically made by placing the dough in a dehydrator, which keeps its nutrients intact since they aren't compromised or evaporated by heat. Many interesting and flavorful ingredients can be used in raw bread, including raisins, celery, cucumbers and carrot juice. Other common ingredients in raw bread include flaxseed, wheat berries or oats. These ingredients provide important nutrients, vitamins, enzymes and healthy oils, including omega-3 fatty acids. These health benefits can help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Tips for Bread Shopping

Even if you know what types of bread are supposed to be healthy, it can be overwhelming to walk into a grocery store and figure out which brands are the best. Fortunately, there are several handy tips you should keep in mind when shopping for bread. Below is a list of some of the top tips for picking out healthy breads:

  • Make sure the ingredient list includes "whole" grains.
  • The best breads will have 100 percent whole grains or 100 percent whole wheat.
  • Opt for breads which contain 0 grams of trans fats.
  • Sodium should not exceed 200 milligrams per slice.
  • Do not choose bread that says "partially hydrogenated" in the ingredients list.
  • Look for FDA-approved health claims on the label pertaining to the benefits of whole grains.
  • Don't choose products which are marked as "enriched." This means that the grains have been processed so fiber and nutrients have to be added back in later. These are not as healthy as whole grain products.
  • Check health food stores for specialty breads like flax bread or raw bread.

Keep in mind that packaging can sometimes be misleading. For instance, breads which are marked as "diet" or "light" breads don't necessarily have more health benefits that a standard loaf of whole grain bread. Compare labels carefully before making a final decision about which bread to purchase. Check both the nutritional facts and the ingredient list for a more accurate idea of which breads will be the healthiest for you and your family.

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