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
These brands met our standards for nutrition and taste.
Sara Lee Classic 100% Whole Wheat
Serving: 1 slice
Cal 60, Carb 12g, Fiber 2g, Sodium 120mg
Pepperidge Farm Stone Ground 100% Whole Wheat
Serving: 2 slices
Cal 130, Carb 23g, Fiber 4g, Sodium 200mg
Dave's Killer Bread 21 Whole Grains and Seeds
Serving: 1 slice
Cal 120, Carb 22g, Fiber 5g, Sodium 180mg
Arnold 100% Whole Wheat
Serving: 1 slice
Cal 100, Carb 19g, Fiber 3g, Sodium 160mg
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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