Bread is one of my favorite things to eat. There’s nothing like the smell of freshly toasted bread in the morning with butter, jam, peanut butter or your favorite condiment. And bread can be used for so many different types of meals! Sandwiches of all kinds, breadcrumbs for baking, homemade croutons, bruschetta, the list could go on and on. But bread has gotten a really bad rap since the whole “low-carb/no-carb” fiasco – which honestly I’m totally against (but I’ll save that for another post). However the low-carb people do have a point in that – carbs are sugar. Complex carbs though are really great for you! It’s the simple carbs found in white bread, refined sugar, etc that should be avoided as much as possible.
Here’s basically how it works: eating white bread, white crackers or white anything is equivalent to taking a spoon full of sugar and dissolving it in your mouth. But eating whole wheat/whole grain bread is great for you for the following reasons:
Benefits of Whole Grain Wheat
1) Complex carbs means fiber – which helps with intestinal health and actually lowers cholesterol (whole grains are also supposed to help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer)
2) Carbs gives you energy – which means you can work out longer! (or just feel better in general)
3) Helps with weight loss – Fiber keeps you feeling full longer, and if you’re full – you’re less likely to reach for that bag of chips at 4pm!
So then, the question is, which wheat bread is the best one? If you take a trip to your local Safeway, Albertsons, even Trader Joes has like 50 different varieties of “whole grain” or “wheat” or “whole wheat” or “multi-grain” bread. I have spent many collective hours standing in front of that massive bread aisle at my grocery store wondering which bread to pick. All the nutritional labels are different and you generally can’t distinguish half of the ingredients. It’s pretty deceptive actually – because a lot of breads try to pass themselves off as “whole wheat” or “whole grain” when they’re basically glorified forms of white bread. So which one should you pick? A year or so ago, I went on a bread mission. And here’s what I found:
Things to Stay Away From:
– Anything white (wonder bread = sugar!)
– Anything with “enriched,” “bleached,” or “unbleached” as part of the first ingredient. “Enriched wheat” = “White”
– Anything that doesn’t say “whole wheat flour” as one of the main ingredients
– Anything with less than 3g fiber per serving
– Anything with more than 100 calories per serving
Things You Should Look For:
– “100% Whole Wheat” on the front of the packaging (if it says 100% wheat, that doesn’t mean it’s really whole wheat)
– The first ingredient on the label should also be some form of “whole wheat flour” or “rolled oats” or “whole wheat durum” (not enriched, bleached, refined, etc)
– More than 3g fiber per serving (if it says “whole grain” but has 1g fiber you know you’re being tricked!)
Now, there are many breads that fit the criteria above. What I generally try to look for is the biggest fiber/nutritional bang for my caloric buck. Which basically means I want the least number of calories per serving while still reaping the fiber/whole grain benefits. After months and months of bread – tasting activities – I found my new favorite supermarket bread: Orowheat Double Fiber Bread! Two slices have only 140 calories total, and 14 g fiber. The bread is soft/fluffy – toasts nicely and also freezes pretty well. And the slices are substantial – not those tiny slices you get in the 40 cal/low-carb breads. If you make a grilled cheese sandwich using this bread, tomatoes, cooking spray and 2 slices of low-fat deli cheese – you can get a yummy grilled cheese for only 270-300 calories! That is awesome. Yay for Orowheat Double Fiber Bread!