Four steps to buying bread
I've done the hard work for you, reviewing the labels of major bread brands to present you with the four simple steps to buying healthy, wholesome and delicious.
Step 1: Look for the word "whole" on the label. Whole grain, whole wheat and stone-ground whole wheat are winners. These products contain the entire grain and all its health benefits. Nature's Own All Natural 9-Grain bread sounds wholesome, but the top ingredients are enriched wheat flour, water and honey, not whole-grain flour. Skip in favor of Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat.
Step 2: Read the list of ingredients, which are listed in descending order by weight. The first ingredient listed is present in the largest amount, and in bread products that ingredient should include the word "whole." Pepperidge Farm Light Style 7 Grain's ingredient list starts with unbromated unbleached enriched wheat flour. That may sound healthy, but it's not a whole-grain flour, and it doesn't provide all the benefits of the whole grain. Skip it in favor of Pepperidge Farm 100% Natural 100% Whole Wheat or Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain 100% Whole Wheat, which do in fact have whole-wheat flour as their first ingredient.
Step 3: Avoid products that are "made with whole grains," which does not always mean whole wheat. The first ingredient in Wonder Made with Whole Grains White Bread is enriched wheat flour. Whole wheat flour doesn't show up until the third ingredient, after water. Do you really want bread that has more water than whole grains?
Step 4: Check the serving size. If you're looking to reduce your calorie intake, choose a bread with slices that weigh less. A slice of Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain 100% Whole Wheat weighs 43 grams and has 110 calories, but a slice of its Stoneground 100% Whole Wheat bread weighs in at only 25 grams and 70 calories per slice. Arnold's Stoneground 100% Whole Wheat is similar. If you eat two slices of bread a day, in a week you'll save 560 calories just by choosing the lower-calorie bread!
Reviewed by Susan Janoff, MS RD LD/N