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October 27, 2007

Top 10 Healthy Breads

By Renee Carter

Although bread has gotten a bad rap of late, there are some awesome tasting and good-for-you breads on the market that you’re not paying attention to simply because the low-carb craze still hasn’t been completely curbed.

But carbs are necessary for a healthy diet and lifestyle, and by incorporating healthy breads into your diet, you will be able to create easy meals (enter the sandwich) without having to turn on the stove every time.

But be careful with bread in general. Even the healthiest of breads should be consumed in moderation; otherwise, your pancreas will grow to three times its normal size and most breads contains more calories than your body knows what to do with. And it’s not as though we’re working the farm all day long and need so many calories.

That said, here are the top 10 healthy breads on the market, and all can be found at high end health food stores or even in your grocer’s market.

Healthy breads #10

Originating in Germany, pumpernickel is a type of sourdough bread and its main ingredients include rye flour and rye meal, as well as molasses, which is what gives it its dark, intense color.

Although they’re not very easy to find in typical grocery stores the United States, if you do find them, note that they are rounded.

Calories: 80 per slice
Ingredients to look for: rye flour, rye meal flour, water, molasses, cornmeal, unsweetened cocoa, coffee, salt, dry yeast, wheat gluten, caraway seeds

Healthy breads #9

High in good fats like omega-3 and alpha-linolenic acid, flaxseed can help to reduce arthritic pain and the chances of developing heart disease. If you opt for bread containing flaxseed, ensure that it is ground into the bread so that your body is able to absorb the omega-3 benefits.

Calories: 160 per slice
Ingredients to look for: whole rye, mountain spring water, whole wheat, flaxseed, yeast, sea salt

Healthy breads #8
Hemp bread

THC, a compound used to make cannabis, is not found in hemp bread, so you don’t have to worry about testing positive for drugs should you consume it. Hemp itself is very high in protein and omega-3 fat, and is quite beneficial to the body.

Calories: 90 per slice
Ingredients to look for: Stoneground whole wheat flour, unbleached wheat flour, flaxseed, hempseed flour, raw pumpkin seeds, oat fiber, water, sesame seeds, raw sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, hulled millet, shelled hempseed, unrefined sea salt.

Healthy breads #7

Crispbreads, like Ryvita, are crunchy, hearty, nutty tasting snacks that you can put anything on. Rather than opting for topped crackers, put some smoked salmon and light cream cheese on a crispbread and keep your diet in check.

Calories: 25 per slice
Ingredients to look for: whole grain rye, salt

Healthy breads #6
High-fiber walnut bread

Breads fortified with fiber are always a good thing (fortified is not the same thing as enriched – see below), and when you add heart healthy walnuts to the mix, you’ve got yourself a tasty and satisfying situation.

Walnuts are low in saturated fats and high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which help lower bad cholesterol in the body.

Calories: 100 per slice
Ingredients to look for: whole wheat flour, rye flour (or meal), walnuts, salt

Healthy breads #5
Oat bread

Oats contain flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from the process of oxidation. That’s why oatmeal is touted as part of a healthy breakfast, but now you can opt to enjoy oat bread instead.

Calories: 110 per slice
Ingredients to look for: wholemeal flour, oatmeal, milk, water, olive oil, molasses, yeast

Healthy breads #4
Manna bread

A grain bread slowly baked at low temperatures, manna bread can be found in your grocer’s refrigerator and is rich in flavor.

With a naturally sweet flavor and rich texture, the reason manna bread tastes so amazing is due to the breakdown of complex carbs and gluten into simple sugars, which your body can digest more easily.

Calories: 80 per slice
Ingredients to look for: sprouted organic whole wheat kernels, filtered water

Healthy breads #3
Stone milled

If you’re not a big fan of crunchy wheat in your bread, then stone-milled bread is not for you. But for those of you who enjoy the natural taste and filling effect of grains, stone-milled bread makes an interesting addition to sandwiches.

Calories: 80 per slice
Ingredients to look for: unbleached flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour), water, rye, caraway seeds, salt

Healthy breads #2
100% whole wheat

When you see the word “wheat” without the word “whole,” put the bread down and step away from it. Wheat bread can be made using both whole wheat and white flour, and the bread could even be made with enriched flour, which isn’t good for you at all.

Calories: 100 per slice
Ingredients to look for: Whole wheat flour, water, flax, honey, yeast, salt

Healthy breads #1
100% whole grain

If the packaging has “100% whole grain” on it, you can be certain that the whole-grain flour will list before refined flour on the ingredient list (although you should probably avoid “refined” or “enriched” ingredients altogether -- see end of article). When buying whole-grain bread, however, keep an eye out for sodium – many whole grain breads tend to be high in it.

Another great thing about whole grain breads is that they tend to have a lower GI, or glycemic index, which means that they can help control your appetite and your blood glucose and cholesterol levels, and lower your risk of getting heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

Calories: 90 per slice
Ingredients to look for: whole grains, whole wheat flour, water, sea salt, dry yeast, vegetable oil

Other things to watch for when buying bread:

  • Avoid enriched – Enriched flour is not a good thing – it means that the flour had all its beneficial properties (vitamins, minerals) removed and that some were added back.
  • Go for fortified – Fortified means that on top of what’s already in the food, vitamins and minerals were added.
  • High fiber – bread should contain about 5 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Low sugar – if one of the first three ingredients on the list ends in -ose (glucose, lactose, and sucrose), or is sugar or corn syrup, you shouldn’t buy it (that actually goes for all food).
  • Good fats – try to find breads with monounsaturated fats (canola or olive oil) or polyunsaturated fats (corn, peanut or sesame oil).
  • Avoid hydrogenated – hydrogenation is the process of cooking oils and fats, resulting in their saturation.

  • Keep your healthy breads

    Bread is a great addition to your diet, so long as you consume it in moderation. And with the 10 breads listed above, there’s no doubt that you will be adding more flavor to your life every now and then.

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