Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are an essential part of any healthy diet and necessary for proper bodily function. Of course, not all carbohydrates are created equal – and so it’s really more about eating the right type of carbs rather than eliminating carbs from your diet altogether.
Since bread is a common and large source of carbohydrates in the typical person’s diet, it’s important to opt for healthy breads that contain natural and complex carbohydrates rather than the refined alternatives that can spike blood sugar and increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes.
When selecting a healthy bread, follow these 7 tips:
- Opt for whole wheat. Look at the ingredients listed on the product packaging. You’ll want to select a bread that contains whole wheat as the primary ingredient. Because whole wheat contains the entire grain, you’ll get a number of great health benefits – and the carbohydrates will be digested slowly over time. Don’t be deceived by wheat flour, which is essentially the same as white flour. Settle for nothing less!
- Enriched isn’t a good thing. You may notice that some of the ingredients are listed as enriched. While this may sound like a good thing, it’s really an indication that the bread contains white flour in disguise.
- Multigrain isn’t necessarily healthy. If you’re a fan of multigrain breads, read the label carefully. Though this bread contains multiple grains as the name implies, only the ingredients will tell you if these grains are whole or refined.
- Stone-ground isn’t a health benefit. Colorful adjectives are marketing gimmicks more than actual health benefits. If a bread is labeled as stone-ground, it just refers to how the product was milled. It’s not an indication of how healthy it is.
- Check for sugar. Read the list of ingredients and scan for sugar. If it’s in the top four ingredients, try a different product – even if it does contain whole wheat as the primary ingredient.
- Heavy, coarse bread is best. As a general guideline, select a whole wheat bread that is heavy and coarse. Not only is the flavor better, but it can be a good indication of fewer chemicals and less processing.
- Check for fiber. Though most Americans don’t get enough fiber, many healthy breads have at least 2 or 3 grams per slice. The fiber digests slowly and helps you feel fuller longer! Select a fiber-rich bread to help enhance your diet.
It’s not about cutting out bread from your diet. It’s about making a healthy bread choice – and these 7 tips should help you select a bread that is an intergral part of any balanced diet. If you have any other healthy bread tips, share them in the comments below!