6 Healthy Breads and One You Should Avoid

Forget about its bad reputation – there are plenty of healthy ways to break bread

Credit: Flickr / Moyann Brenn

Bread lovers rejoice! You can enjoy grains by making healthy choices

Bread may once have been known as the staff of life, but these days it’s associated with weight gain, digestive problems, blood sugar fluctuations and even wrinkles. But take heart – you don’t need to give up your morning toast or noon sandwich if you choose carefully. Canada’s Food Guide recommends 6-8 servings of grains daily for adults. The key is to make sure those servings are healthy.

Credit: Flickr / SliceofChic

Avoid: White Bread

When you hear talk about bread as a no-no, it’s usually in reference to heavily processed white bread. With a high glycaemic index – which can send your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride – and very little fibre, there’s not much to love about this type of bread.

Credit: Diane Selkirk

Sourdough Bread

Slowly fermented artisan sourdough like the breads baked by Monika Walker at Okanagan Grocery are a better choice for people who aren’t fans of whole grains, “especially if you’re eating lots of fruits and veggies to get your fibre,” Walker says.

The slow fermentation creates lactic acid that digests the gluten (some artisan sourdough has had gluten measured at < 20 ppm, which puts it in the gluten-free range and makes it an option for many gluten intolerant people).

Credit: mellowynk

Pumpernickel Bread

Pumpernickel bread, which is made from a course rye, might seem like a healthy option, but check the ingredients. Some commercial versions contain a lot of refined wheat flour, so look for loaves that only contain rye and have at least 2g of fibre per serving.

Whole Wheat Bread

When choosing a brown bread, check the ingredient list and the heft of the bread rather than just the colour. Some grocery store options list ‘wheat’ as the first ingredient, but unless it says ‘whole wheat,’ all you are getting is processed flour with a bit of whole grain and colouring thrown in.

Uprising Breads‘ whole wheat is a back-to-basics bread that uses the whole wheat kernel and is sweetened with honey and molasses, not sugar.

Credit: Cobs

Multigrain Bread

Multigrain or seed breads such as Cobs ‘Capeseed’ bread are a great representation of how wholegrain breads should be: dense, chewy and filling. With lots of fibre, vitamins and minerals, bread like this is virtually guilt free.

Credit: Silver Hills

Sprouted Grain Bread

Sprouted grain breads (where the kernel or seed is germinated) such as Silver Hills Squirrelly Bread have more fibre (5 g) and protein (6g) and fewer carbohydrates than their unsprouted counterpart. Some proponents also claim the sprouting makes it easier to digest and access the grain’s nutrients.

Credit: Panne Rizo

Gluten-free Bread

Gluten-free breads range from heavily processed breads with limited nutritional benefits (other than being gluten free) to more nutritious (though still low-fibre) whole grain breads that meet the needs of a specialized diet.

Panne Rizo in Kitsilano has a multigrain loaf where brown rice is the first grain listed. A handful of seeds and grains follow further down the ingredient list.