Pass The Bread

loaves of bread and grains on a table

Buying bread can be a challenge. Today’s bread aisle has so many choices. But not all bread is created equal. Read on for tips to help you make a healthy choice when choosing bread.

What type of bread should I choose?

The grocery store has many different breads to choose from. One of the healthiest choices is whole grain bread. Whole grains have all 3 parts of the grain kernel which includes the bran, endosperm and germ.Whole grains have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. They can also help you maintain a healthy weight. The health benefits of whole grains come from all 3 parts of the grain kernel.

What is the difference between whole wheat and whole grain bread?

Whole wheat bread does not have all 3 parts of the grain kernel in the same amounts as whole grain bread. Some of the germ and bran have been removed. Generally, whole grain breads are healthier than whole wheat breads because they are higher in fibre, vitamins, minerals and plant nutrients. Whole wheat breads are still a good option and are part of a healthy diet.

How do I find whole grain bread?

Follow these tips to find whole grain bread in the grocery store:

  • Look for bread made from whole grain wheat flour, whole grain corn, whole rye, whole oats, wheat germ, amaranth, barley, buckwheat, millet, spelt, quinoa or bulgur.
  • Look for the words "whole grain" in the ingredient list on bread packages and choose bread with whole grains at the beginning of the ingredient list.
  • Look for the whole grain stamp developed by the Whole Grains Council.  The whole grain stamp helps you find whole grain bread more easily. This stamp may or may not be on the label of healthy whole grain bread.
  • Be careful! Words such as "multigrain," "stone ground," "whole wheat," “enriched,” "bran" or "brown" do not mean the same thing as whole grain. 

Can I eat white bread?

White breads are usually made with enriched white flour. They have iron and B vitamins, but are usually lower in fibre. White bread can be part of a healthy diet, but aim to have whole grain bread more often.

How much bread should I eat?

The number of servings of bread and other grain products that a person eats per day is based on age and sex. View the video How many grain products do I need? to learn about the number of servings to aim for.

What else should I look for when buying bread?

Serving Size:  Bread slices come in many sizes. Based on Canada’s Food Guide, one serving of bread is 35 grams. Look at the Nutrition Label to find out how many grams is in a slice of bread you would like to buy.  Many food companies are now making bread with smaller and thinner slices to help with portion control.

Fibre: Choose bread that has at least 2 grams of fibre per slice. Bread with more than 2 grams of fibre per slice is an even better choice.

Other nutrients: Read the Nutrition Label and choose bread that is low in sugar, fat and sodium. 

Should I eat bread with omega-3 fats, flaxseeds or sunflower seeds?

Omega-3 fats, flaxseeds and sunflower seeds are healthy ingredients added to bread to make them more appealing to customers. They can add variety to your bread choices, but may not make the bread an overall healthier choice. It is important to read the Nutrition Label and the ingredient list to find out if it is a healthy choice. 

Bottom line

Buying bread at the grocery store can be a challenge especially with the number of options available. To help you make a healthy choice, look for bread made with whole grains. Choose bread with at least 2 grams of fibre per slice and are low in sugar, fat and sodium. Whole wheat and white breads can be part of a healthy diet, but choose whole grain bread more often.    

Last Update – January 30, 2019

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