Bread Basics: 6 Types You Don’t Have to Feel Bad About


Low-carb and gluten-free followers spend a lot of time avoiding the bakery section of the grocery store. But news flash: Bread does a body good! … If you differentiate the good from the bad. Whole grains are an essential part of a healthy diet and can help you lose weight, not to mention reduce your risk for chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. Your daily bread can also be a great source of complex carbohydrates—the good carbs your body needs as fuel—as well as protein, vitamins and minerals, fiber, and essential fatty acids.

Traditional bread is made from a few simple ingredients: flour, liquid, yeast, salt. But as a shopper, you’re faced with a great variety of products, featuring different flours and other ingredients, such as seeds, nuts, and sweeteners, added to improve flavor, texture, and nutrition benefits. Big manufacturers often sneak in a lot more than that, things like dough conditioners, preservatives, colorings, emulsifiers, and bleaching agents (listed only as bleached flour) that you don’t really need.  

When you look for simple ingredients, it’s easy to pick a loaf of delicious, nutritious bread. Here are the six best types of bread you can feel good about buying.

  1. Sprouted-Grain Bread

These hip grains are soaked in filtered water and left damp in order to sprout, before dehydrating and grinding them into flour. They’ve been around for a while but only recently popped up in grocery stores nationwide. Are breads made from germinated grains nutritionally superior? Simply put, yes. Sprouted grains and the flours made from them are easy to digest and the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in them are easier for your body to absorb. Scientists are still discovering the health benefits of sprouted grains, but you can’t go wrong. One to try: Ezekiel bread is simply good and good for you!

  1. Whole-Wheat Bread

Basic whole-wheat bread is high in fiber and here for all of your everyday sandwich needs. Go for 100 percent stone-ground versions, as they have the vital wheat bran, which provides insoluble fiber (known to play an important role in preventing colon cancer). Additionally, whole wheat is one of the higher protein grains and gives you a variety of B vitamins and trace minerals required for health, including chromium, iron, copper, magnesium, and zinc.

  1. Multi-Grain Bread

If whole wheat is good, more whole grains must be better, right? It seems like once you choose a really good five- or seven-grain bread, up pops a 12 or even greater competitor! More isn’t necessarily merrier, however, and there is no magic number or perfect combination of grains. Oat, wheat, rye, barley, corn, spelt, amaranth, triticale, teff, millet, and quinoa—the list goes on, and they all offer great benefits. Next time you’re confronted with the number conundrum, let your taste and good sense be your guide. A final note—as with whole wheat, do check for 100 percent whole grains, since some bread makers sneak in refined white flour.

  1. Seeded Bread

Adding seeds to bread not only creates delicious texture, it packs in nutrients. From poppy and pumpkin seeds to flax and chia, you’re getting beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and more vitamins, minerals, and protein. Slice for slice, the calories may be slightly higher than other breads, but it’s a positive trade off when it comes to nutrient density.

  1. Rye Bread

Hang onto your tuna: Here’s where 100 percent whole grain makes a big difference. According to the Whole Grains Council, compared with wheat, whole-grain rye can help lower weight, improve insulin response, regulate appetite, satisfy longer, and may reduce inflammation in people with metabolic syndrome (a cluster of health conditions that put a person at risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes). The key is choosing the real stuff, such as Mestemacher’s Whole Meal Rye Bread. This classic German rye is “baked to a traditional recipe since 1871,” boasts three ingredients, and has no preservatives. Try this or other whole-grain rye breads, but keep an eye on sodium—traditional rye contains a good amount of salt.

  1. Gluten-Free Bread

Gluten-free breads have come a long way! Notorious for being loaded with sugar, salt, and highly processed carbs from refined grains and starches, gluten-free breads finally have some real contenders. Consider the 7 Ancient Grains loaf by Three Bakers, made from organic brown rice flour with amaranth, sorghum, millet, teff, and flax. While still falling short as a significant protein source, with only 3 grams per 2 slices (versus 8 to 10 grams per 2 slices of Ezekiel bread), this particular bread does offer important micronutrients, such as iron, and is one of the better commercial options in the sodium department (1 slice has 140 mg, which is considered a low-sodium food).

The bottom line: The slice is right when it’s 100 percent whole grain and not loaded with unnecessary additives. Keep an eye on salt and sugar, selecting the lowest sodium option, and avoiding added sugars. (Multi-grain breads are the exception to the sugar rule, where small amounts of added sweeteners such as honey, molasses, or sugar benefit the flavor and help retain moisture.) Instead of feeling guilty about bad carbs, make buying great breads a regular habit to reap health benefits and help trim your waistline.

36 Comments   Join the Conversation

36 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Thanks for this message! I had nearly cut out all breads. Now I’m going back to the delicious Ezekiel bread.

  • This article was very informational and helpful. Going to buy Ezekiel bread and find the rye bread that was mentioned. I’ve missed sandwiches.

    • I only eat sour dough bread, which I get from a local bakery run by 2 young women. They mske bread with only organic whole wheat flour. Some Italian research show that real sourdough bread has less gluten impact than bread made with yeast. This is real sour dough, not “sourdough flavored” bread made by commercial bakers. It is woderful.

    • Sourdough made the right way is a healthy option. The fermentation process breaks down the phytic acid in the wheat as well as contains good nutrients from the fermentation process. (Nourishing Traditions)

      • I only eat home made sourdough. I add lo salt instead of high sodium Salt and add seeds and sometimes a little sprouted grain. It tastes so much better than shop bought and the texture is beautiful, it doesn’t stick to the roof of my mouth when eating sandwiches, like some commercial breads do – light, chewy and with a small crunch from the seeds in each bite. Sourdough hot cross buns are equally as good and it is much easier to make than many people think.

  • What can you eat if you suffer from severe diverticulosis and gave numerous bouts if diverticulitis.

    • Cut out eating all wheat based products. Avoid eating breads they are unnecessary calories. The US diet of wheat dairy and sugar causes obesity.

  • I’m so happy to see the bread I had switched to a year and a half ago is the one you’ve mentioned most…Ezekiel! I love the Flax bread that they make and for a treat, the raisin bread. I have the Flax bread everyday…a slice toasted every morning with Kerrygold Irish butter along with an apple. I also will use it for a turkey or tuna sandwich for lunch. It’s the best! And oh, between dietary changes and exercise, I lost 30lbs in a year, going from a size 14 to a 6, and have reduced my blood pressure back to normal ranges. Thank you for this information. I just got my fitbit and am enjoying the articles. Way to go!

    • Way to go on weight loss! That is about what I need to lose. Any tips you would be willing to share?

  • I need to find good healthy food idea whole wheat sugar free bread but going to try rye asi diabetic lots of other problem digestive stomach colon thanks for any help

      • Anthony, you sound like my metabolic specialist who was certain he was right until he discovered that my metabolism was so low it didn’t register on his chart. Losing weight is not as easy as you make it sound. Bread is a necessary component of my nutrition plan as it helps to reduce hunger.

  • Avoiding lectins (to repair gut flora and leaky gut) hardly any of these grains are acceptable. This is old information leading to many illnesses.
    We need the new information

  • Hardly any of these grains are acceptable. New science show we must avoid lectins to repair leaky gut and change the gut flora to a healthy one. This avoids/ cures many illnesses and creates a healthy weight without hunger (caused by bad flora)

  • I was told that I was allergic to gluten by a Kniesoligist Subsequent blood tests suggest this is not the case. I’m having a lot of trouble with my stomach. Sometimes I eat bread and I’m fine and sometimes I eat it and I’m not fine. I seem to be fine with crackers. Could it be the yeast that’s the problem ?

    • Try sourdough, some people with gluten intolerance can take sourdough bread without any problem, my niece, great-nephew and sister in law are all gluten intolerant but can manage with this slow-fermented bread. The thorough fermentation seems to make it more digestible

  • I’m a retired woman in my late sixties. I am overweight and know I eat the wrong foods. I love fruits, especially grapes and berries and add the berries to my Honey Nut Cheerios. At lunch I may make myself a sandwich and have grapes on my plate. At dinner I try to cut back on my portion size. I try to walk 1 -2 miles a day for 5 or 6 days. But I still can’t lose any weight. Any suggestions?

    • Brooke, fruits are high in sugar, so is bread so reduce those greatly. Increase your protein levels, eat more foods with higher protein levels. You are most likely insulin resistant and that causes weight gain and will prevent weight loss. Chromium is often missing in diets and that is one very important mineral to improve your insulin resistance. Chromium will also reduce those cravings for sugar and carbs. Nutritional yeast is a source for chromium, but you could also supplement with tablets. Since taking the chromium, my cravings for sugar and carbs have gone way down and I no longer feel the urge to snack in the morning after taking the tablet.

  • Hi – I’ve been using Vitalife 100% white spelt flour which is unbleached, unenriched & unbromated and bake my own bread. Is this a healthy choice? The taste of the organic whole spelt is overpowering for me.

  • A nutritionist once told me to go for the bread with the least number of ingredients. You listed what’s needed to make bread, but many breads have a 3-inch long list of ingredients. She recommended a brand called Matthews, which may only be available in New England. That’s another clue – buy bread from local bakeries. We have “When Pigs Fly” bakery, which is sold in supermarkets.

  • Thanks for the information,I will purchase whole wheat bread today. I need to know what specific foods to avoid that help belly fat loss. And what can I eat at night to help lose belly fat. Do you know about the vinegar lemon juice and honey drink that suppose to help lose belly fat.? Help!!’nn

  • I’m 5’7″ 220 Lbs I was about 235 Lbs I went on a diet where I ate a maximum of 16 grams of protein for breakfast I had either half a grapefruit or plain yogurt or I could add some blue berries. For lunch I had about 5 grams if protein a bunch of small tomatoes a mix of fruit such as blue berries black berries raspberries and I was allowed 26 blue diamond almond chips. For dinner I could have up 11 grams of protein steak chicken etc I went from 235 Lbs to 195 Lbs it took. E less then a year. I went off the diet and am now back up to 220 Lbs. I guess my question is was this the right diet or should I have had a better mix of foods so I could keep the weight off rather then getting off the diet and eating a lot more.

    • I suggest using the fit bit food logger to see how many calories you eat when you stay the same weight, then reduce that number to lose weight. Make your diet varied and interesting, just reduce the portions slightly, then you are more likely to stick to the diet. I know it is psychological, but I no longer have a diet, I have a nutrition plan, which sounds a lot better when going out for a meal and explaining to the chef that I need a low fat, low sugar diet because of my health problems. I have had the most marvellous meals by saying that and then leaving it all up to the chef.

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