In today’s diet-focused world, bread gets a bad reputation.
In a lot of popular meal plans focused on health and weight loss, carbohydrate-heavy foods such as bread are usually the first thing to go.
But not all types of bread are created equal: while processed white bread isn’t exactly a superfood, there are other types of bread which could potentially provide a little more in terms of nutritional value.
So which types of bread should you keep an eye out for on your next trip to the grocery store?
Here are some of the healthier varieties of bread you can choose from.
1. Whole Wheat Bread.
When it comes to bread, the two types that most shoppers are likely to be familiar with are white and whole wheat bread.
Of these two, bread that is 100 percent whole wheat is considerably healthier.
Unlike processed white bread, whole grain bread keeps the entire grain intact during the manufacturing process, leaving in various bits such as the germ, endosperm and bran.
By leaving in these parts of the grain, whole wheat bread contains a much higher value of nutritional content than if it were to be removed;
in addition to having a higher concentration of fiber, the bran and germ of the grain are also a beneficial source of other nutrients such as protein and fat, along with various other vitamins and minerals.
By contrast, the refined grains used in white bread do away with many of these important nutrients by removing the bran and germ during the bread’s creation.
In addition to these added nutritional benefits, whole wheat bread may also help protect your body against certain types of health complications such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain varieties of cancer.
However, you shouldn’t just settle for the first loaf of bread you see on the store shelf with “whole wheat” on the label: many manufacturers are inclined to simply slap the words “whole wheat” on the label in order to make their product appear healthier, regardless of whether or not the bread itself was actually made without refined flour.
In order to ensure you’re making a healthy and informed decision, take a closer look to ensure that the bread is made using 100 percent whole wheat or whole grain flour, and avoid breads that seem to have tacked-on or unnecessary ingredients such as added sugar or vegetable oils.
2. Sprouted Grain.
Like whole wheat bread, sprouted bread is made with whole grains as a key ingredient as opposed to refined grains or flour.
The key difference is that, as the name implies, sprouted grain bread is made from whole grains that have begun to germinate, by which we mean the grains have begun sprouting.
This is because the grains used to make bread are actually seeds, and by allowing these seeds to germinate before making them into bread, you can potentially unlock a variety of added nutritional benefits.
According to one study, pita bread made from 50 percent sprouted wheat flour contained an enormous difference in terms of nutritional value, including more than three times the amount of folate than other varieties of bread.
For those who don’t know, folate is a vitamin which plays a key role in converting the food you ingest into energy, making its addition a major plus for sprouted grain bread.
Using germinated grains for bread has also been shown to increase the number of antioxidants within the bread while also decreasing the amount of compounds in the bread that block the absorption of certain vitamins and mineral such as iron.
The sprouting process also breaks down the starch within the grains, which lessens the impact the bread has on your blood sugar.
Sourdough is a type of bread made through a special process that involves the fermentation of naturally occurring yeast and bacteria that allows the bread to rise.
This process of fermentation is also noteworthy in that it plays a significant role in reducing the phytate content of the bread by as much of 50 percent, compared to other types of bread that are created through more conventional techniques.
The unique production process of sourdough bread may also make it easier to digest due to a higher concentration of prebiotics and probiotics that can assist your gut with the digestion process.
Additionally, sourdough bread’s relatively low glycemic index means that, like sprouted grains, the effect that sourdough has on your blood sugar is relatively minimal.
To put it simply, while this dough might be sour, it certainly won’t “sour” your mood.
4. Oat Bread.
As evidenced by the name, oat bread is, surprise surprise, bread made using oats as a primary ingredient.
In addition to oats, oat bread is also made with natural ingredients such as whole wheat flour, yeast, and water, which, if you’ve been following this list so far, is a good sign in terms of potential health benefits.
In addition to using whole wheat instead of refined or processed flour, the oats found in oat bread are associated with a number of additional health benefits, including magnesium, vitamin B1, iron, and zinc.
Oats are also a major source of fiber, specifically a type of fiber known as beta-glucan.
Beta-glucan is believed to help lower your body’s cholesterol levels, as well as keep your blood sugar at manageable levels.
However, just like with whole wheat bread, make sure you pay attention to the ingredients list while grocery shopping to make sure you’re really getting what you’re promised;
many so-called “oat breads” may actually contain only a small amount of oats, and can, in fact, may potentially be made with refined flour and added sugars as well.
Just another reason to practice smart shopping habits and making sure you know exactly what you’re putting on your plate.
5. Flax Bread.
Flax bread is a type of bread made using a combination of whole-grain flours as well as flax seeds. I guess most of these names are pretty on the nose, huh?
Moving on, flax seeds are an incredibly nutritious addition to any meal plan, which means that, by extension, flax seed is probably one of the healthiest bread options you can choose from.
For starters, flax seeds are an especially rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, which is an omega-3 fatty acid that some studies suggest may reduce the risk of heart disease with regular intake.
Additionally, flax seeds also provide a plethora of additional health benefits, including improved cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, and a better control over your body’s blood sugar levels.
Flax seeds also contain antioxidants known as lignans, which may potentially help to prevent the onset of certain varieties of cancer;
however, research into the anti-cancer properties of lignans and by extension flax seeds is still a topic of debate, and the jury’s still currently out on whether or not they’re really effective when it comes to protecting your body against cancer.
In this day and age, people are paying more attention than ever when it comes to the food they’re eating, and as a result a lot of us have begun to rethink our daily diets in an effort to make healthier choices and avoid foods which we suspect to be detrimental to our overall health.
When it comes to eating right, exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, bread is one of the first things to usually get cut out of people’s diets in an effort to live a more health-focused life.
However, while types of bread made from refined and processed flour are typically unhealthy and best left by the wayside, there are other types of bread that may provide more of a nutritional boost than you might expect.
Instead of cutting out bread altogether, it might instead be a better decision to read up on the actual ingredients that go into your bread and make informed purchasing decisions to make sure that you’re getting the best possible nutritional bang for your buck.
But hey, maybe you disagree with us. Which brings us to the question: what do you think?