What's the Best Bread?
Bread can be a pretty contentious topic these days. In our article, There’s Nothing Wrong with Bread, the author explains why certain breads are definitely not a nutritious choice, and why others — healthy bread made in traditional ways with quality ingredients — can be a healthy part of almost anyone’s diet.
Now, no one is suggesting you have to eat bread. If eliminating it is no great loss for you, and you want to do it, then go for it! There are plenty of other sources of healthy carbs, which are essential to a well-rounded diet.
But, if a hunk of quality bread brings you joy and causes no digestive complaints, then it most certainly deserves a place in your diet! The key is to choose healthy bread — not just processed slices.
Here’s a rundown of some the best healthy bread options and where you can you find them.
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How to Pick The Healthiest Bread
There are plenty of healthy breads available in stores and online — you just have to search past the hundreds of not-so-healthy choices to find them.
Whether you’re seeking the best gluten-free bread or the best low-carb bread, the first step is to read the labels carefully. We spoke to Mascha Davis MPH, RDN, private practice registered dietitian nutritionist, founder of NomadistaNutrition.com for some healthy bread-buying tips:
- Opt for breads with minimal ingredients. “If you can, buy fresh bread,” Davis says. Along with a shorter ingredients list, fresh bread often contains fewer preservatives or artificial ingredients.
- Watch out for added sugars. “There is no need to add sugar to bread,” Davis says. “All you need to make it is water, flour, yeast, and salt.” But alas, we Americans like our sweet stuff. Choose freshly baked bread that do not contain added sugars, and check the nutrition facts, which will list added sugars.
- Choose thinly-sliced bread. While you likely want a bread that can actually support sandwich fixings, some breads (especially artisan ones) may be sliced on the thicker side. That likely means more calories and carbs per meal, which may not be something you’re looking for. With thinner slices, you can enjoy your bread more moderately.
The Healthiest Breads for Weight Loss
In addition to following those tips for finding healthy bread, there are a few specific types of bread you can look for that may also support healthy weight management.
These whole-grain options typically offer more fiber and protein than their white-flour counterparts, meaning they’re the better choice — whether you’re looking to lose a little weight or just want to choose a healthier, more nutrient dense bread.
1. Sprouted Whole Grain
Why does this option fall at the top of our list? Because of the “sprouting,” which refers to the process of letting the grains and seeds germinate (or start to grow) before baking.
“This increases the amount and availability of nutrients,” Davis says. More specifically, the sprouting process makes minerals like zinc and iron more bioavailable, which is believed to make them more easy to digest.
Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread is one of the most widely available sprouted whole-grain option. As an added bonus, it is made entirely from sprouted organic whole grains with no added sugars or refined flour. *Add to cart.*
2. 100% Whole Wheat
When it comes to choosing whole-wheat bread, keep this rule in mind: The first ingredient should always be 100-percent whole-wheat flour. “Some brands will mix white and whole-wheat flour,” Davis says. And if they do, they can still get away with calling it wheat bread.
A good, truly whole wheat bread? “Dave’s Killer Bread is one of my favorites,” Davis says. This organic option offers 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 25 grams of whole grains per slice. You’ll see that this does contain 4 grams of added sugar per slice, but this bread has a lot of other good stuff to offer, so it made our list.
3. Whole-Grain Sourdough
She suggests checking the label — or asking the bakery — to confirm the bread is in fact whole grain, since sourdough is often made from white flour. To find authentic sourdough bread, your best bet may be a local bakery. However, you can sometimes find it online.
What Makes Bread Healthy?
The artisan method of baking bread is regaining popularity as people reject the pillowy, processed white-flour bread products that fill grocery store shelves. Artisan bread is typically made with higher-quality ingredients and a traditional fermentation process, which usually yields a more nutritious bread than those made with quick-rise yeast.
If you’re lucky enough to have a baker near you who puts care into sourcing milled whole grains and seeds, and uses a fermented mother dough, then you’re in luck…and are likely surrounded by hipsters. (Read why this is a healthy choice here).
In a big city like Los Angeles or New York, you can have your pick of craft bakers, with new shops opening all the time. But most of the country does not have such a ready supply of amazing bread to choose from. The solution? Make your own!
How to Make Healthy Bread
If artisan bread has not yet reached your city or hometown, you can learn to craft your own healthy bread. It’s not as daunting a task as you may think, and few culinary feats are as rewarding! Plus, since you get to control what goes into your dough, you may be able to whip up your very own gluten-free or keto bread.
This healthy bread recipe from Nourished Kitchen explains how to make a sourdough starter. Bread dough can be kept in the refrigerator for weeks to make sourdough, or it can be frozen and then baked fresh when you need it.
Experiment with flours, and combinations of flours, to find one you like. Here are some healthy bread flours to look for: