I'm a Dietitian and This Is My Favorite Healthy Bread
Yes—gasp—dietitians eat bread. Here’s why I recommend this type.
Just like Oprah, I love bread. All kinds of bread, too. I love toast, sandwiches, garlic bread, bread straight from the oven...yum. Some bread however, is better for you than others. I try to choose whole-grain breads more often. The Dietary Guidelines recommend making at least half your grains whole. Whole grains have beneficial fiber that refined grains don't. Fiber is good for your gut health, heart health, blood sugar and more (here are 10 Amazing Health Benefits of Eating More Fiber).
The bread aisle is confusing—there are so many options to choose from! The one type that always stands out to me as a good choice is sprouted grain bread. These breads are often found in the freezer and they're made with whole grains and tend to have less sodium and more protein than many other breads. Here's why I love sprouted grain bread, plus a bit more on what to look for when you're buying bread.
Why sprouted grain bread is my favorite healthy bread
Sprouted grain breads are made from sprouted grains. That means they contain whole grains as the first ingredient so the beneficial fiber and vitamins remain in the bread. Sprouted grains are a bit different than regular grains because of the process of sprouting. The grains are soaked which begins a process of sprouting and because of that process they may be more easily digestible. (Learn more about the sprouting process and benefits here.) Look for whole grains first on the ingredient list.
This varies by brand but sprouted grain breads tend to have 4-5 grams per slice. That means if you make a sandwich you can get 10 grams of plant-based protein, just from the bread! White bread has just 2g per slice but some non-sprouted whole-grain breads can also have 4g per slice. Protein is important because it helps keep you satisfied and it's nice to balance your carbs (bread) with some protein. Check the labels when you shop and look for bread with a few grams per slice.
Like any whole-grain bread you'll get the fiber benefits with sprouted grain breads. Most have about 3g per slice. Most Americans don't hit the targets of 25g of fiber per day for women and 38g per day for men. Fiber is another key nutrient to look for in bread because it helps slow down digestion and blunt blood sugar spikes. Choosing whole-grain bread can help you get more fiber, in addition to eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and other whole grains.
No added sugar
Bread is actually a sneaky source of added sugar, even in healthy sounding breads like multigrain or honey wheat. Some have more than 1 teaspoon (4g) per slice. Many types of sprouted grain bread have no added sugar, or just 1g. There's nothing wrong with a little bit of added sugar, but it's something most of us get too much of in our diets and I'd rather have mine in a cookie or something I'm really going to enjoy.
Lower in salt
Sodium is another nutrient many of us get too much of. Bread is actually the number one source of sodium in our diets, per the CDC. Lots of bread products have a fair amount of sodium—and that's before you start adding salty toppings like cold cuts or cheese. Sprouted grain breads tend to be lower in salt, but always check labels, especially if you're being mindful of the sodium in your diet. Ezekiel Bread, a popular brand of sprouted-grain bread, has under 100 mg per slice.
If you have diabetes or you're keeping an eye on carbs, sprouted grain breads have about 15g per slice, which is one carb serving. They're not lower in carbs than other breads, but since the slices tend to be smaller they may have a more modest carb count than some bigger bakery-style slices.
In general, you want to look for whole-grain bread that has some fiber, protein and not too much sodium or added sugar per slice. Sprouted grain bread hits all those marks and has a hearty texture that I think is delicious when toasted. Look for it in the freezer section or natural section of the grocery store if you don't see it in the bread aisle. I still enjoy other types of breads, including whole-wheat bread, sourdough bread and white bread sometimes, but I almost always have sprouted grain bread in my freezer for making my favorite breakfast or a sandwich.