How to Choose the Healthiest Bread

Don't Let the Label Confuse You

Be wary of misleading nutritional claims. It doesn't matter if the bread is five-grain, seven-grain, or even 12-grain. What matters is if any of those grains are whole grains. Phrases like "made with whole grain" or "100-percent natural" can also be confusing.

Long ingredient lists with unfamiliar words are probably best left on the shelf. All you need to make bread is flour, water, salt and a little bit of sugar (to activate the yeast).

More: Decoding Fat and Calories on a Nutrition Label

Ditch Unnecessary Additives

These days, bread contains a slew of other ingredients that aren't necessarily needed, and don't make the bread any healthier. In fact, some of these extras can make the bread unhealthy.

Watch out for added fats like hydrogenated vegetable oils, trans fat and vegetable oil shortening. These ingredients can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.

Avoid high-fructose corn syrup, honey and other sweeteners. These ingredients add extra sugar and calories. Your best bet is bread with natural, healthy ingredients and not a lot of additives.

More: 8 Food Additives and Ingredients You Should Avoid

The Healthy Essentials

Choose bread with 100 calories or less, at least 3 grams of fiber and 225 mg of sodium or less per slice. Make sure 100 percent whole-wheat flour is listed as the first ingredient.

Whole grains are naturally low in fat and cholesterol free, contain 10 to 15 percent protein, and offer lots of healthy fiber, resistant starches, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Research has shown that a diet rich in whole grains can prevent obesity and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers. Be prepared and learn how to choose healthy, whole-grain breads.

More: 5 High-Carb Super Grains and Recipes for Athletes

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