Friday, September 4, 2015

which is the healthiest bread?

I started thinking about this article while enjoying the irony of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on toasted artisan-crafted bread. (believe me, it was a really good PB&J..)

What is bread, really? At it's most basic form, and it's been around for thousands of years, we're talking about milled grains (wheat), leavening agents (yeast), and water, mixed together and heated (1). Yet considering what a simple product it is, there are so many choices at the grocery store it makes my head spin!

Why so many? And which one should I be eating?





Some quick thoughts about bread:
  • Prices range from really cheap (about $1 per loaf) to really expensive ($5 or $6 per loaf). Feeding a family who eats lots of sandwiches at $6 for a small loaf seems excessive - buy the bread you can afford.
  • Cheaper options tend to have more man-made ingredients in them; this helps the bread last longer before going bad.
  • More expensive (and healthier) options tend to have ingredients you've heard of, such as flour, water, salt, and yeast. Maybe they'll add some nuts, garlic, herbs or spices, but it'll still be whole ingredients that you know what they are (2).
  • Whole wheat, fortified, organic, multi-grain, 11 grain, white, wheat, sourdough, rye, gluten-free, artisan...
  • Lots and lots of choices

More thoughts about bread:

  • Buy what tastes good. If you buy the ultra-organic, 46-grain bread with all the healthiest nuts and seeds baked into it, but then you don't eat it, why bother?
  • Eat bread with fewer, if any, man made ingredients.
  • Don't get caught up in the arms race to healthiest, because you can't win.
  • Your bread is simply a nutrient delivery tool - what you put ON your bread will have a much bigger impact than what is baked IN your bread. (plus all the other food choices you make throughout the day.)
  • If you're eating the super-healthy, most expensive bread because it has 3 grams of fiber, consider that's less fiber than a serving of broccoli (about 5 grams), raspberries (8 grams), or lentils (15 grams) (3). Maybe you could scale back the bread and pair it with a better side dish?

In the end, there is no perfect choice. There are better choices, sure, but there's no such thing as perfect. Eat moderate portions of real foods, and mix in some exercise, and you'll be on the road to healthy.

Meanwhile, all this talk about bread has me craving a turkey sandwich on sourdough with havarti, lettuce and tomatoes...

- Chris Butterworth

Sources cited:

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