Sunday, December 31, 2017

Focus on Whole Wheat Bread

Are you choosing whole wheat bread or bread that has some or no whole wheat?  When I ask my students, “How can you tell if bread is whole grain?” I get quite interesting answers.  Some say, color – brown bread is whole wheat bread.  Some say – look at the label but then don’t explain what to look for.  So how do you know if bread is whole wheat and what are some of the best whole grain breads to choose?  Environmental Nutrition recently wrote, “Best in Whole Wheat Bread” and provided a lot of recommended whole wheat breads to choose from.  

Why whole wheat bread?  Choosing whole grain bread is good for your health.  Forget the gluten free craze (unless you have celiac disease) and focus on buying and enjoying some whole grain bread.
  • Whole grain bread adds fiber to your day.  Most Americans have diets quite low in fiber and eating whole grain bread is a great way to add some fiber to your diet.
  • Whole grain bread has many trace minerals missing or low in white bread.
  • Whole grain bread has many health benefits such as lowering your risk of heart disease, lower risk of some cancers, lowering your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Whole grain breads include all parts of the wheat grain – including the bran (fiber) and germ (vitamins and minerals).  The bran and germ are removed when they make white bread.

Does all your bread need to be whole grain?
      MyPlate recommends that at least half the grains you eat each day should be whole grain.  Thus, enjoy that Italian bread with dinner.  I like to focus on whole grain breads at breakfast and lunch and then at dinner enjoy the Italian bread with spaghetti, or the wonderful Ciabatta bread.  

How do you know if bread is whole wheat?
  • Look at the ingredients for the word WHOLE.  If the first ingredient is “whole wheat flour”, then the bread is mostly whole wheat. Avoid “enriched wheat flour”, especially as the first ingredient, as this means it is refined flour and the bran and germ have been removed so the fiber and many vitamins and minerals have been removed.
  • Look at the label – if you see “100% whole wheat” then the bread is indeed 100% whole grain.  Or look for the whole wheat stamp on the package. 
Look for the whole grain stamp on the package
  • Avoid “multigrain” as these breads are usually just a mixture of refined grains and now whole grain.  Or, at least, look at the ingredients and see if any of the grains in the bread have “WHOLE” in front of them such as whole grain oats, whole grain wheat.

What to look for in whole grain breads?
  • Fiber – check to see if each slice provides at least 3 grams of fiber.  There are “fiber bombs” in bread with some slices providing 6 grams or more of fiber per slice.  Great if you have been adding a lot of fiber to your day.  But if you are just beginning to focus on adding fiber to your diet, choosing the 3 grams of fiber per slice may be a better bet.  At least until your intestines get used to more fiber.
  • Sodium – one would think that bread would be low in sodium and for most breads the amount of sodium per slice isn’t high.  But some brands have over 200 milligrams of sodium per slice.  Have sandwich and the at 400 milligrams of sodium just from the bread.
  • No high fructose corn syrup – check the ingredients to see if it has high fructose corn syrup.  Many bread labels now clearly read: “No High Fructose Corn Syrup”.

What are some recommended Whole Wheat Breads?
  • Pepperidge Farm Honey Wheat – had 3 grams of fiber per serving
  • Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Whole Grain White – yes, it is “white bread” but this is made from a special grain so it is whole grain but a whole grain white bread.
  • Dave’s Killer Bread 21 Whole Grains & Seeds – my favorite.  A student introduced me to this bread.  He said his mom always bought “healthy bread” and this is one of the bread’s his mom recommended.  You not only get all the nutrients in whole grains but also the benefit of many seeds which are also super healthy.  Has 5 grams of fiber per slice.  (I have found this bread at Costco for a very good price.) 
Dave's Killer Bread
  •  Nature’s Harvest Light 100% Whole Wheat – 3 grams of fiber.  Light as it provides 40 calories a slice – but I find “light” usually means thin, small slices.
  • Arnold Whole Grains 100% Whole Wheat with 3 grams of fiber and Arnold’s Whole Grains with Double Fiber with 6 grams of fiber per slice.
  • 365 Multigrain Fiber Bread – this multigrain is actually whole grain with 3 grams of fiber per slice.
  • Trader Joe’s 100% Whole Grain Fiber Bread – with 5 grams of fiber per serving.

What if you are new to whole grains and really don’t like the taste of 100% whole wheat bread?  Then choose a bread that has at least some whole grain in it. One of my daughters chooses Nature’s Own Honey Wheat.  Not 100% whole grain but some whole grain and a healthier choice than white bread. 

This week, read some bread labels.  Try some new whole wheat breads like Dave’s Killer Bread.   But whatever whole grain or partially whole grain bread you choose, buy one that you will eat.  If not slices of bread, try some whole grain English Muffins or Bagel Thins.  I like the Arnold Sandwich Thins at 100 calories per “bagel”.   The Honey Wheat is about half whole grain and it is mostly whole wheat as the first ingredient is whole wheat flour. Both of the sandwich thins provide 5 grams of fiber but fiber is added to get this amount of fiber in each “bagel”.  I often eat bagel thins at breakfast with some margarine and jam or use them for a sandwich at lunch.  Both have no high fructose corn syrup.  


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