Archive for the tag - bread

Is White Whole Wheat Bread Healthy?

3702whole_grain_breadWhen selecting a bread while grocery shopping, have you ever noticed that in addition to white, whole wheat and the many other varieties of bread, there’s a bread option called white whole wheat (or sometimes white whole grain)?

So is this really just another unhealthy white bread or is it a healthy whole wheat bread? Or perhaps something in between?

As it turns out, white whole wheat bread is actually nutritionally similar to whole wheat bread. The main difference is the type of wheat used. Typical whole wheat bread is made with red wheat while white whole wheat bread is made with white wheat. The different wheat types provide different tastes and textures. Whereas whole wheat can be coarse and bitter, white wheat is much lighter and softer.

White whole wheat is created for those folks who prefer the taste and texture of white bread but who still want the nutritional benefits of whole wheat bread. In a way, it’s really the best of both worlds. Delicious bread that nourishes your body.

When selecting a bread, make sure you read the nutrition label carefully as marketers are notoriously deceptive. For more information, check out my guidelines and tips for buying a healthy bread.

Buying Healthy Bread: 7 Tips.

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

Is Sprouted Bread Healthier?

Until living in San Diego, I had never heard of sprouted bread. More than a few people recommended that I try sprouted bread as an alternative to typical wheat bread. So, I did.

Sprouted bread is actually an ancient, biblical recipe that involves placing grains in water and allowing them to germinate. Once sprouted, the grains are combined with other ingredients to make the bread.

It tastes pretty good. Though the flavor of sprouted bread isn’t all that different, it does offer some unique nutritional benefits:

  • Sprouted grains are easier to digest as the germination breaks down starches.
  • Sprouted grains contain more vitamins than their non-sprouted counterparts. There’s an increase in iron, potassium, calcium and vitamins A, B and C.
  • Sprouted breads are often low-gluten or gluten-free. The enzymes in the sprouts break down the gluten – which can be a huge benefit for gluten-sensitive individuals.
  • Sprouted grains have higher levels of fiber and protein than typical wheat bread.
  • Sprouted breads have a lower glycemic index. If your diet is based on low glycemic index foods – or if you are diabetic – sprouted grain breads are a great alternative since they don’t cause post-meal blood sugar levels to spike.

There’s not a HUGE difference between sprouted bread and typical wheat bread – but, when planning a proper and balanced diet – every little bit can help. And clearly, sprouted bread does offer some key advantages for health-conscious consumers. It’s certainly worth giving sprouted bread a try.

Sprouted grain products are available in natural or health food stores and some national chains like Whole Foods Market and Ralphs Grocery.

Multigrain Vs. Whole Wheat Bread.

While we know that whole wheat bread is much healthier for us than white bread, how do multigrain options measure up?

First things first, the terms “whole wheat” or “whole grain” are very specific. As the Nutrition Diva writes:

Whole grain products contain all the parts of the grain: the germ, which is rich in essential fatty acids and b-vitamins; the endosperm, which is mostly starch; and the bran, which, of course, is high in fiber. In products made with refined grains, on the other hand, most of the germ and bran have been removed, leaving the starchy endosperm, which is the least nutritious part of the grain.

The term “multigrain,” on the other hand, simply means that a variety of different grains were used. And many (if not all) of those grains may be refined – and thus, much less nutritious. To know for sure, simply examine the ingredients on the packaging. Look for the word “whole” before the grains listed to get a better idea of the nutritional value.

Bottom line: If you’re looking to include bread as part of your healthy diet, opt for whole wheat. While multigrain bread may sound appealing, unless it’s made with whole grains, it can have the same nutritional value as white bread.