Which breads are best?
Q: I’m confused by all the bread labels. Can you tell me what kind of bread is best?
A: “Whole-wheat” and “multigrain” are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing.
Before delving into this battle, we need to settle on the term “whole-grain.”
All grains are made of three parts: the large endosperm (with protein and carbs), the germ (with fat and B-vitamins) and the outer bran (with fiber and vitamins). When a food is labeled as 100 percent whole-grain, this means that the entire grain (all three parts) is left intact. When the food is refined or milled (like in white bread), this means the bran and most of the germ has been removed during processing.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that at least half the grain you consume daily should come from whole grains. To do so, choose 100 percent whole-grain over refined bread varieties.
When bread is labeled “multigrain,” it means it’s made from multiple (or many) types of grains. When browsing through the bread aisle, you’ll come across seven-grain, nine-grain and even 12-grain bread. Don’t be duped by smart marketing — that it may have more grains doesn’t mean it’s healthier or even whole-grain.
Read the fine print (the nutrition-facts panel and ingredients list) and make sure those grains are whole grains and that the bread has at least 3 grams of fiber per slice.
Some companies will market their bread as “multigrain,” but use numerous refined or processed grains, giving you not much fiber or nutritional benefit over white bread.
The same deal goes for whole-wheat bread. You must read the label to make sure it’s made from whole grain.
Some bread manufacturers will label a bread “wheat” but may only use part of the grain to make the bread. Look for the words “100 percent whole-wheat” in the ingredients list and make sure the fiber is up to par (at least 3 grams per slice).
Whether choosing multigrain or whole-wheat bread, you need to read the ingredients list to make sure you’re getting whole grains.