Labels reading “made with whole grains” may be only what the label says: a few whole grains in with a lot of refined flour.
Even “multigrain” breads may be only what the label says: multigrains, none of which are whole.
Darker breads aren’t necessarily nutritious or high in fiber. Pumpernickel breads are often made with refined flours with molasses or caramel coloring. (The authentic Black Russian Rye bread I make is colored with instant coffee and melted chocolate.)
If you read the label on one of Lake County’s supermarket’s in-house rye bread, you’ll find that there’s nary of speck of rye flour in it. Truly a shame, because rye, like oatmeal and barley, has the desirable type of fiber (soluble) that flushes unhealthy fats right out of the body.
And if you just don’t cotton to the taste of regular whole-wheat bread, try white whole-wheat bread instead. It’s made from “hard white winter wheat” instead of the usual “red winter wheat.” It has a softer texture than regular whole-wheat flours and is just as nutritious, but check labels to make sure it’s the first flour on the list. If it’s diluted with refined flour, then it’s not as nutritious as 100% whole-wheat breads.
A consumer’s best strategy for getting maximum nutrition from breads is to read the label.
Buy 100% whole-grain breads, or at least those listing whole grain first in the ingredients.
Check the serving size (one or two slices?).
Check the amount of fiber. A slice of whole-grain bread should have about two or three grams of dietary fibers. Some manufacturers add “isolated fibers,” such as inulin and maltodextrin to pump up the numbers—check the ingredients.
Compare breads to find one with 140 milligrams or less sodium per serving and no more than 2 or 3 grams of sugar.
Calcium-fortified breads can provide more than 10% of our daily calcium needs in two slices. But unless they’re whole grain, we’ll be short-changed in other nutrition areas.
Source: University of CA, Berkeley Special Summer Issue, Wellness Letter, 2013