Which Breads Are the Healthiest?

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The bread aisle can be one of the most frustrating areas of the grocery store. With so many options, it's difficult to tell which bread is the healthiest choice. Labels make claims like “high fiber” or “multigrain," encouraging you to think you are buying the healthiest choice. Among the healthiest breads to buy are whole-grain, rye or sprouted bread.

Whole-Grain Benefits

Whole-grain bread contains all the edible parts of the grain. The hulk, which is inedible, is removed from the grain, and you are left with the germ, bran and endosperm. These parts contain B vitamins, folate, iron magnesium, selenium and fiber, which can protect you against certain diseases. Whole-grain bread is naturally high in fiber, which is linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and aids in lowering cholesterol levels. Consuming fiber can contribute to weight loss since it leaves you feeling fuller longer. The American Heart Association recommends you get at least 25 grams of fiber per day. The vitamins and minerals in whole-grain breads help to lower blood pressure, decrease risk of gum disease and improve your immune system.

Rye for Your Heart

Rye bread also contains the germ and endosperm of the grain after processing. Rye bread provides B vitamins, potassium, calcium, folate and magnesium. It has four times more fiber compared to white bread. Rye bread also contains plant sterols, which contribute to a reduction in low-density lipoprotein, also known as bad cholesterol. In turn, eating rye bread regularly can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Sprouted Grains

Sprouted bread contains seeds that are sprouting. Sprouting enhances and increases the amount of vitamins and minerals available from the seed. To make bread with sprouted seeds, they are grown in a controlled environment to receive the right amounts of time, temperature and moisture. Sprouted breads are high in antioxidants, B vitamins, vitamin C, fiber, folate and essential amino acids. They are easier to digest because sprouting breaks down starch in the bread into smaller molecules, which makes less work for your digestive tract.

Hidden Refined White Flour

White bread, which has been refined, only contains the endosperm. This process removes vital nutrients such as folate and iron that are then synthetically added back to the grain, making it enriched bread. Companies market their breads to appear healthy, but beware -- if you see that the label says whole grain but not 100 percent whole grain, the bread may be mixed with refined white flour. You may also see "multigrain" or "high fiber" on the label. “Multigrain” only means that more than one type of grain was used, while “high fiber” could be refined white flour with added fiber. Once again, this is white bread in disguise. If you are unsure, look at the ingredient list. If the bread is truly whole-grain, it should be the first ingredient on the list.