It's the best friend of PB&J, the reason you're often full before a meal and the must-have carb option if you're stuck on a deserted island. Bread: it comes in several varieties and options, but when you're stuck in a grocery aisle with a shelf of options, which one is deserving of your bucks for nutrition and health?
"Our society is so afraid of carbs these days, and in particular, bread," says Calgary-based registered dietitian Ali Campbell. "It’s not that North Americans are eating too many carbs, we are eating too many simple carbohydrates. Here’s the deal: complex carbohydrates like whole grains, legumes, vegetables and rice are the good carbs we want to have in our diet, and we want to limit the simple carbohydrates, which are the refined and processed items such as candy and white bread."
Complex carbohydrates are not that complicated either, Campbell says. They are full of fibre, contain essential vitamins and minerals that nourish our bodies and have many health benefits, like decreasing the risk of colon cancer.
Labels like "whole wheat" and "whole grain" are often blamed for the confusion associated with buying bread. But Campbell says it is crucial to understand the difference between these two.
"To be considered whole grain, the food must contain the three main parts of the kernel, including the bran, endosperm and germ," she says. "Whole wheat flours are processed in a way that during the milling process they remove the germ portion of the kernel. As a result, nutrients are stripped from the kernel and you get a product that is less nutrient dense than a whole grain product."
She says when you are shopping for store-bought bread, pay attention to the ingredients list as opposed to the fancy labelling on the bag. She has also come up with a cheatsheet for shopping for your dough:
- Look for pure sprouted grains bread that is not milled. If you cannot find one then look for whole grain on the ingredient list.
- Find a bread that has at least 3 grams of fibre
- Find a bread that has at least 4 grams of protein
- 1 gram of sugar
- 0 grams trans fat and 0 grams saturated fat
- < 180 mg of sodium.. shoot for under 150 if possible
- < 110 kcals per slice
In our summer bread series, this week we bring you the best and worst store-bought breads by brands. For this list, Campbell has ranked popular store-bought breads by sugar, carb and calories content, as well as if the bread is dietitian approved (by her).
DIETITIAN APPROVED: 100 per cent POSITIVE: "Ezekiel Flax wins just by a hair over Ezekiel sprouted whole grains (#9) because it has a bit of extra fibre and protein, which will keep us fuller longer. It also incorporates flax, which is a source of anti-inflammatory Omega-3," says registered dietitian Ali Campbell based in Calgary. CALORIES: 80 per slice SUGAR: 0 grams CARBS: 14 grams
DIETITIAN APPROVED: 100 per cent POSITIVE: This options is made with no preservatives, organic sprouted wheat, organic sprouted barley, organic sprouted millet, organic malted barley, organic sprouted lentils, organic sprouted soybeans and organic sprouted spelt, Campbell says. CALORIES: 80 per slice SUGAR: 0 grams CARBS: 15 grams
DIETITIAN APPROVED: Yes POSITIVE: Great selection of different types of breads and made with sprouted organic whole grains CALORIES: 110 per slice SUGAR: 1 gram CARBS: 18 grams
DIETITIAN APPROVED: Yes POSITIVE: Very similar to #8, but with a few differences CALORIES: 110 per slide SUGAR: 1 grams CARBS: 18 grams
DIETITIAN APPROVED: 64 per cent approved CAUTION: Contains whole grain as the first ingredient, but also contains a lot of extra ingredients such as vegetable oil, Campbell says. CALORIES: 110 per slice SUGAR: 2 grams CARBS: 19 grams
DIETITIAN APPROVED: Above 50 per cent CAUTION: Campbell says the "Eating Right" label can be misleading CALORIES: 115 per slice SUGAR: 2 grams CARBS: 16 grams
DIETITIAN APPROVED: 50 per cent dietitian approved POSITIVE: This brand of bread uses whole grain wheat flour, including germ CALORIES: 85 per slice SUGAR: 1 gram CARBS: 16 grams
DIETITIAN APPROVED: Don't even think about it CAUTION: You may be getting a cheaper deal for your loaf of bread, but this bread falls short on nutrients and fibre, Campbell says. CALORIES: 70 per slice SUGAR: 1 gram CARBS: 12 grams
DIETITIAN APPROVED: Nope CAUTION: Made with enriched white flour and containing nothing but pure glucose, it is on the naughty list of breads, Campbell says. CALORIES: 60 per slice SUGAR: 3 grams CARBS: 16 grams
DIETITIAN APPROVED: Not even close CAUTION: One slice has 8 grams of sugar CALORIES: 100 per one slice SUGAR: 8 grams CARBS: 18 grams
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