If you’re eating white bread, you might as well be eating pure sugar, since the effect on blood sugar is similar. Here’s what you need to know to make healthy bread choices:
1. If the ingredient list doesn’t include the word “whole,” you’ll need to pick a different bread. Even if the front of the package makes the bread sound healthy with meaningless words like “wheat” (word to the wise: almost all bread, including white bread, is made from wheat). Without the word “whole” in front of “wheat,” you’re looking at processed flour to which some brown coloring may have been added.
2. Multigrain bread? It doesn’t much matter how many different grains a bread contains if none of them is a whole grain.
3. “Enriched wheat flour” sounds promising, but is a ploy: All flour at the very least is enriched with folic acid as mandated by federal law. (The folic acid helps protect against birth defects.) Manufacturers will often add back some of the nutrients stripped away by processing, but fiber is still missing and, without it, your bread is veering into doughnut territory.
4. If you see sugar in any form in the first four ingredients, just say no. Even if your bread is made from whole grain, check where sugar falls on the ingredient list. If it’s one of the first four ingredients, that’s too high; it means you’re getting a substantial amount of unnecessary sweetener in your bread.
5. Look for at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
6. The coarser the bread, the better. That texture indicates that the best parts of the bread have been preserved, including the flavor. Even whole wheat probably raises blood sugar more when it’s finely ground than when it’s coarser.