Buying bread should be simple: Look for 100% whole grain without too much salt. But how do you know if it’s whole grain—or just made with a little whole grain? And how much is too much salt?
Here’s how to find the best sliced bread. See the photos for some of our taste favorites.
1. Go for 100% whole grains.
Does your bread say “100% whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” on its label? If so, you’re pretty much done.
If not, the ingredient list should say that the flour is “whole wheat” (or other grains), not “enriched,” “unbleached,” or just “wheat.” Those are all refined.
Look for breads that are made with grains that are all—or almost all—whole. Don’t worry about white flour far down the ingredient list near salt or yeast because there’s so little.
And don’t rely on claims like “made with” whole grain or “multigrain.” Those breads often contain mostly white flour.
2. Match the serving.
If the serving on the label doesn’t match what you eat, do the math. A serving is typically one slice, but most lighter breads list two slices (like Arnold Bakery Light, Nature’s Harvest Light, and Sara Lee Delightful) or three slices (like Pepperidge Farm Light Style or Very Thin).
3. Check the calories.
A slice of bread used to weigh an ounce. Now 1¼ oz. is more typical, and some—like Dave’s Killer Bread Organic 100% Whole Wheat and Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse 100% Whole Wheat—hit 1½ oz. So your sandwich can rack up 200 to 300 calories just from the bread.
Solution? Dave’s Killer Bread makes delicious Organic Thin-Sliced loaves with just 60 to 70 calories per (1 oz.) slice. Ditto for 100% whole wheats by Nature’s Own, Sara Lee, and Wonder.
Looking for less? Light breads like Nature’s Harvest Light and Sara Lee Delightful drop to around 45 calories by shrinking each slice to ¾ oz. or less and adding cellulose or other processed fibers.
4. Skirt the salt.
Bread doesn’t taste salty, but some types—like sourdough and rye—hit 200 to 250 milligrams per slice. So a sandwich can deliver a quarter of a day’s sodium without so much as a swipe of peanut butter or slice of cheese.
Your best option? Look for no more than 120 mg of sodium per slice.
If you’re watching every milligram, Alvarado St. Bakery, Food for Life, and Trader Joe’s make no-salt-added whole wheat breads. But the bland taste takes getting used to.
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