These days when you step into a bakery, or wander down the bread aisle at the supermarket, you are faced with a bewildering array of bread choices. You probably know that some of us have particular dietary requirements, and you are no doubt aware that sliced white bread isn't the best thing for your health. But what actually are the differences between the most common types of bread? Who are they for? This simple and quick guide will take you through the reasoning and benefits of 6 healthy and popular breads. After this, you will be certain which loaf you ought to make your favorite sandwiches from.
1. Whole Wheat Bread
Suitable for: Anyone who is not sensitive to gluten.
What the nutritionists say: Since whole wheat usually contains plenty of fiber and protein, it has become a very popular healthy choice. Largeman-Roth warns, however, that you be careful which brand you purchase. If sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup are high on the list of ingredients, and the top ingredient is not, in fact, whole wheat flour itself, you should not be fooled. Instead, find a better brand.
Recommended brand: Dave's Killer Bread, 100% Whole Wheat
Calories (per slice): 100
2. Sprouted Grain Bread
Suitable for: Anyone that cannot easily digest normal wheat bread or is mildly sensitive to gluten.
What the nutritionists say: Generally there is not much difference health-wise between these first two choices. However, this type of bread is made by allowing grains to sprout before they are ground up as flour. This process may limit the amount of phytic acid in the bread. This may be a good idea, as it will better allow you to take on board crucial minerals such as calcium and iron, which the bread contains. Unfortunately though, this bread will cost as much as $2 a loaf.
Recommended brand: Food for Life, 7 Sprouted Grains Bread
Calories (per slice): 80
3. Gluten-Free Bread
Suitable for: Anyone who's sensitive to gluten or has celiac disease.
What the nutritionists say: When purchasing gluten-free bread, it’s not enough to simply look at the label. You have to be vigilant when it comes to the type of flour used. The best loaves use either whole gluten-free grains (such as quinoa or millet), oat flour or chickpea flour. On the contrary, corn and rice starch do not contain nearly as much fiber as the former ingredients, and are often mixed with added fats and sugars.
Recommended brand: Happy Campers Gluten-Free, Classy Slice
Calories (per slice): 77
4. Grain-Free Bread
Suitable for: Anyone who is sensitive to gluten, has celiac disease or might be on the Paleo diet.
What the nutritionists say: It’s important to remember that these breads should be avoided by those with egg or nut allergies, since the best breads with the most fiber contain almonds or flaxseed. Otherwise the fiber content is rather low. The minimum should be 2 – 3 grams, according to Largeman-Roth.
Recommended brand: Barely Bread, 100% Grain-Free Sliced Loaf
Calories (per slice): 90
5. Sourdough Bread
Suitable for: Anyone that's sensitive to gluten or cannot easily digest normal wheat bread.
What the nutritionists say: Sourdough loaves begin from a sourdough starter culture derived from a lengthy process of fermentation. It’s for this reason that sourdough is easily digestible, according to McDaniel. Sourdough has also been reported to be better at keeping our blood glucose levels stable, when compared to many other breads.
Recommended brand: Rudi's Organic Bakery, Rocky Mountain Sourdough
Calories (per slice): 100
6. Rye Bread
Suitable for: Anyone who desires their bread to be more filling than normal.
What the nutritionists say: The very best rye loaves have ‘whole rye’ at or near the top of their ingredients’ list. Rye has in it a carb, which is a resistant starch and acts like fiber, keeping you fuller for longer than other bread, according to Largeman-Roth. However, a lot of the rye bread on the market contains refined white flour, leaving on 1g of flour per slice. So, as ever, it’s imperative that you check the nutritional information carefully before settling on your choice.
Recommended brand: Mestemacher, Natural Whole Rye Bread
Calories (per slice): 120