Watching your carbs doesn't have to mean banishing bread. Use these tips to pick a whole-grain, carb-smart loaf. Or choose one of our taste-tested, dietitian-approved picks.

Katie Shields, M.S., RDN

Do you avoid the bread aisle just to escape the confusion felt by so many carb-conscious consumers? It's true: Bread is a tricky product to buy, especially for people with diabetes. Now you can return to the bread aisle with confidence-thanks to our brand picks and shopping guidelines. Here, we give our best choice for whole-grain bread and go over what to look for when you shop. Plus, get tasty and diabetes-friendly ideas for open-faced sandwiches.

Related: Healthy Carbs for Diabetes

Healthy Breads for Diabetes

These brands met our standards for nutrition and taste.

Best Soft Sandwich Bread


Sara Lee Classic 100% Whole Wheat
Serving: 1 slice
Cal 60, Carb 12g, Fiber 2g, Sodium 120mg

Best Thin-Sliced Bread

Pepperidge Farm Stone Ground 100% Whole Wheat

Serving: 2 slices
Cal 130, Carb 23g, Fiber 4g, Sodium 200mg

Best Multigrain Bread

Dave's Killer Bread 21 Whole Grains and Seeds

Serving: 1 slice
Cal 120, Carb 22g, Fiber 5g, Sodium 180mg

Best Classic Whole-Wheat

Arnold 100% Whole Wheat

Serving: 1 slice
Cal 100, Carb 19g, Fiber 3g, Sodium 160mg

How to Shop for Diabetes-Friendly Bread

Why Choose Whole Grains?

When grains are refined, the fibrous outer layer (the bran) and the nutrient-dense core (the germ) are removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm. But the bran and germ are where most of the nutrients can be found.

Breads made with whole grains include all parts of the grain, and are a great source of B vitamins and satiating fiber. The problem is, not all breads marketed as whole-grain breads are made from whole grains.

Don't miss: What Is a Complex Carbohydrate?

Don't Judge a Loaf By Its Color

Though most whole-grain bread is brown in color, not all brown bread is made with whole grains. You'll need to look at the labels and ingredients list to be sure. Packages that boast claims like "made with whole wheat" or prominently display words like "multigrain" or "wheat" don't necessarily contain bread made using 100 percent whole grains. Products with these terms may contain some whole wheat, but may be made with predominantly processed grains.

Zero In on the Ingredients List

To know whether your loaf really contains whole grains, you'll need to check the ingredients list. The first ingredient should be "whole-wheat flour" or another grain with the word "whole" before it (e.g., whole oats). Avoid breads with "enriched wheat flour" or "wheat flour" as the first ingredient-these terms indicate refined grains. Also avoid breads that contain high-fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors and preservatives.

Check the Serving Size

A serving size may be one or two slices. Thin-sliced and lighter varieties of whole-grain bread often have two slices per serving, making these breads a smart choice for a full-sized sandwich or a side to an already-starchy meal. Bigger -bakery‑style and artisan breads often have one slice per serving, and can contain upwards of 22 grams of carbs per slice. While you don't need to avoid these larger loaves, you may want to use one piece instead of two. They are best for half-sized or open-face sandwiches, or for serving alongside salad or soup.

Know Your Numbers

When choosing whole-grain or whole-wheat sandwich bread, it's also important to read Nutrition Facts labels. In general, look for breads that have the following per serving:

  • ≤ 22g carb
  • ≥ 3g fiber
  • ≤ 200mg sodium

Try these open-face sandwich ideas

Use up your bread and make healthy open-faced sandwiches. Try these fun flavor combinations.

Curried Chicken Salad

Canned chicken + shredded carrots + Greek yogurt + olive oil + raisins + almonds + curry powder + cilantro
326 CAL / 18G CARB

Ricotta & Mushroom

Sautéed mushrooms + ricotta + lemon zest + lemon juice + garlic + balsamic vinegar

219 CAL / 20G CARB

Shrimp Bruschetta

Cooked shrimp + cherry tomatoes + feta + lemon juice + parsley + garlic powder

177 CAL / 18G CARB

Roasted Veggies & Hummus

Roasted eggplant, bell pepper, and summer squash + spinach + hummus + sunflower seeds + basil

270 CAL / 27G CARB

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