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How To Choose the Healthiest Type of Bread

Edited By: Natalia Jones
 Bread may not be the healthiest food out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. In fact, this guilty pleasure is so delicious, alluring and just so convenient to eat that, let’s face it, all of us crave a slice or two from time to time. And while we have written many a time how white bread is not the best choice for a health-minded nutrition junkie like ourselves, we have hardly explained which types of bread are a more nutritious and healthier choice, which is exactly what we intend to do in this article. In addition, we’ll give you a few tips on how to tell apart a healthy and high quality loaf of bread from a less nutritious alternative.

1. Sprouted Grain Bread

bread guide Sprouted Grain Bread
John Cummings/ Wikimedia Commons
One of the healthiest bread varieties available is sprouted grain bread. This variety is produced from whole grains that have been soaked in water and sprouted before milling it into flour. There is scientific evidence that sprouting is beneficial for nutrition, as it makes the antioxidants and other nutrients, such as folate, for example, more abundant and more easily available to absorb by your body.
Even more importantly, sprouting decreases the carb and starch content of the grains, which makes it lower on the glycemic index and thus better for those who have diabetes or are looking for decreasing their carb intake.

2. Gluten Free Bread

bread guide Gluten Free Bread
Now, this is a tricky category, as by far not all gluten free breads are healthier than those that contain gluten, but because there are many people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease who cannot tolerate gluten, we felt it’s necessary to add this category.
Technically, any bread that’s made of gluten-free flour can be called gluten free, but many of these commercially-sold breads are highly processed, very high in sugar and contain many unnecessary additives, making them just as bad for you as white bread. For those of you who stay away from gluten, search for bread varieties that have no added sugar and are high in fiber, such as gluten-free bread made of almond or coconut flour.
As these breads can be quite pricey, you can try to make one at home, here is recipe of almond flower bread.

3. Sprouted Rye Bread

bread guide Sprouted Rye Bread
Rye bread is a kind of bread made fully or in part with rye, a close, more nutritious, relative of wheat. Compared to wheat, rye has less carbohydrates and more fiber, which makes for a slower a steadier digestion and less insulin spikes. In fact, studies found that people who consumed 100% whole grain rye bread as opposed to wheat bread were producing much less insulin.
And since sprouting can further increase the levels of fiber and other nutrients, sprouted rye bread is an excellent choice for those who suffer from diabetes.

4. Whole Wheat Bread

bread guide Whole Wheat Bread
Yet another ambiguous contestant, whole wheat bread isn’t actually always 100% whole wheat, as companies try to make their products cheaper by diluting the whole wheat flour with refined flour, so check the ingredients to ensure you’re not being fooled and the product doesn’t contain any extra starches and flours other than whole wheat flour.
If you do find a 100% whole wheat product, though, you can buy it with confidence, as whole grains, or those grains that haven’t been processed to strip it from the bran and the germ, have been found to be higher in vitamins, protein, healthy far and other beneficial plant compounds and nutrients, as well as fiber. This is why you should always opt for whole grain flour-based bread, as it is more nutritious and ultimately, better for your health.

5. Oat Bread

bread guide Oat Bread
The truth is that oat bread is hardly ever made of oats alone, otherwise it would look more like a cookie than bread. But since oats have a lot of health benefits and a pleasant texture, they are often added into wheat flour to make oat bread. Oats are very nutritious, containing magnesium, vitamin B1, iron, zinc, many other beneficial nutrients and fiber.
Apart from that, oats contain a compound that has been shown to reduce bad cholesterol levels and decrease blood pressure called beta-glucan, so oat bread may be the best bread choice for those who suffer from high cholesterol and hypertension.

6. Flaxseed Bread

bread guide Flaxseed Bread
Flaxseeds are kind of amazing, as we discuss in depth here, mainly because they were found to have marked positive effects on lowering one’s risk of developing both heart disease and certain cancers, but also because they can aid digestion like very few other foods.
This is thanks to the antioxidants and alpha-linoleic acid that these seeds contain in bulk. That’s why it is always an excellent idea to add flaxseeds to your diet, and one of the easiest ways to do it without having to remember to sprinkle some on a meal is with flax bread.

7. Sourdough Bread

bread guide  Sourdough Bread
This last type of bread is made by naturally fermenting the bread dough, be it white-flour based or whole-grain flour based. In both cases, the fermentation process infuses the dough with probiotics and prebiotics, which make it easier to digest and promotes gut health. Apart from that, fermentation lowers the glycemic index and the amount of phytic acid in the dough.
Phytic acid is a so-called anti-nutrient that prevents beneficial nutrients from being absorbed by the body, and studies have shown that fermentation decreases the amount of phytic acid in bread by more than 50%. Of course, we urge you choose sourdough breads made of whole grain flours because they are more nutritious than white flour. 
Alternatively, you can make your own sourdough at home, learn how to make it here.

How To Buy a Healthier Type of Bread in Store

When it comes to bread, selecting a healthier alternative can be somewhat tricky because of a huge selection of products and marketing gimmicks that are meant to confuse you. Of course, the best way to eat truly superior bread is to make it yourself, as you will control all the ingredients that went into making it, but we understand that making bread isn’t easy and, honestly speaking, most of us just don’t have the time.

To find a superior kind of bread in store, follow these simple tips:

1. We know this is kind of obvious, but try to avoid white bread, as it has the highest glycemic index and often contains a lot of added sugar.

2. Do the texture test: squeeze a loaf of bread with your hands and then release. A bread made of highly-processed flour will be too soft and may not even spring back when you release it. A good loaf of bread should be firm, dense or spongy. Even if you can squeeze it, it should return to its original form or even be impossible to compress.

Similarly, when slicing into it, a good bread shouldn’t stick together or to the knife and should retain its texture.

bread guide different kinds of bread choosing

3. Watch out for confusing terms, such as:

  • Multi grain. This is not synonymous to who grain. For a brand to label a bread multi grain it’s enough for it to have more than 2 types of grains, and often, the base of such bread varieties is white flour, which we’re trying to avoid.
  • Enriched. This bread variety contains added vitamins and minerals (like iron or B vitamins), but can be made of any type of flour, and so it can still be very high on the glycemic list, contain added sugar and have too little protein and fiber.
  • Stone ground. While it may imply to you that stone-ground grains are less processed, they are still not whole grain and are not rich enough in fiber.

4. Look at the ingredients list:

  • A more nutritious bread will contain 100% whole grains or sprouted flours, which will appear at the beginning of the ingredients list.
  • The ingredient list should be rather short and shouldn’t contain any added sugar. Don’t know how to spot sugar on the ingredients list? Find out how by clicking here.
  • And finally, look for bread varieties that have 3–5 grams of fiber and 3–6 grams of protein per slice. Apart from being healthier, bread rich in fiber will also keep you fuller for a longer time.

​Thanks for reading until the very end, we hope you found this article helpful. Feel free to share it with your friends and family, or simply go and use your newly-found bread assessment skills in the wild.

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