With all the bread choices in the grocery store, how do you know which ones are whole grain? I get this question a lot! I'm sure you know the HEALTHIEST ones are whole grain, but the bread companies do a very good job of disguising their white bread as whole grain. Ever seen any of these on your bread bag?
Rye, multi-grain and whole wheat bread loaves. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
- Honey Wheat
- 7 Grain
- White Wheat
- Wheat Bread
- Contains __ grams of whole grains
- And my personal favorite: "made with whole grains" - Really???
What do you think all of those things mean? I'll let you think.
They pretty much mean that the bread company is trying to distract you from the fact that it's NOT 100% whole grain! You can call me cynical. Maybe I am or maybe I don't like to be lied to!
The truth is that unless your package says 100% whole grain, you really won't know unless you read the ingredient list. And even if it says 100%, it could have a lot of extras added to that 100% that you don't want. I ALWAYS suggest you read the ingredient list for any food item that you buy anyway, so let this be a reminder!
Here's Your Step-By-Step Guide to Buying Whole Grain Bread
- See if you can locate a loaf that says 100% Whole Grain or Whole Wheat Bread
- Turn the loaf to the back to read the ingredient list. If there are a lot of ingredients that you wouldn't use at home, put it back on the shelf!
- Find the next loaf that says 100% Whole Grain.
- If there are no loaves that advertise 100% Whole Grain, then find one that says "whole" somewhere on it. Turn it to the back and read through the ingredient list.
- When you find one that has all "whole" ingredients, YOU HAVE A WINNER!
- Buy that same brand next time! Then you don't have to go through the process over and over.
Here's more on what to look for on the ingredient list.
The Whole Grain Bread Ingredient List
The ingredient list on 100% whole grain bread should always contain the word "whole" (such as "whole wheat flour" or "whole oats"). If there are ore than one type of grain in the bread, each one should be listed as "whole". According to the Whole Grain Council, if a bread has two grain ingredients and only the second ingredient listed is a whole grain, the product may contain as little as 1% or as much as 49% whole grain. Look out!!
Here's a sample ingredient list for
- Generic whole wheat bread: Whole wheat flour, water, wheat gluten, corn syrup, honey, soybean oil, yeast.
- Arnold's 100% Whole Wheat Bread: Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Sugar, Wheat Gluten, Yeast, Raisin Juice
Concentrate, Wheat Bran, Salt, Molasses, Soybean Oil, Mono- and
Diglycerides, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Monocalcium Phosphate,
Calcium Sulfate, Datem, Ethoxylated Mono- and Diglycerides, Soy
Lecithin, Azodicarbonamide, Whey, Nonfat Milk.
The White Bread Ingredient List
There are a lot of confusing labels out there, as I mentioned before. White bread might look like whole wheat on the outside because packaging says "wheat" and the loaf even even looks brown. Here are a few sample white bread ingredient lists:
- Generic Wheat Bread: Wheat flour, water, whole wheat flour, corn syrup, honey, soybean oil, yeast (look familiar??)
- Arnold's Honey Wheat Bread: Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Reduced Iron, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Water, Whole Wheat Flour, Yeast, Honey, Sugar, Wheat Gluten, Soybean Oil, Salt, Cultured Wheat Starch, Enrichment (Calcium Sulfate, Vitamin E Acetate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D3), Mono- and Diglycerides, Datem, Citric Acid, Grain Vinegar, Monocalcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin.
- Subway 9 Grain Wheat Bread: Enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, yeast, whole wheat flour, sugar, contains 2% or less of the following: wheat gluten, oat fiber, soybean oil, wheat bran, salt, wheat, rye, yellow corn, oats, triticale, brown rice, barley, flaxseed, millet, sorghum, yeast nutrients (calcium carbonate, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate), vitamin D2, dough conditioners (DATEM, sodium stearoyl lactylate, potassium iodate, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide), caramel color, refinery syrup, honey, yeast extract, natural flavor, enzymes.
- Subway Italian White Bread: Enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, barley malt, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, yeast, sugar, contains 2% or less of the following: soybean oil, wheat gluten, salt, dough conditioners (DATEM, sodium stearoyl lactylate, ascorbic acid, potassium iodate, azodicarbonamide), yeast nutrients (calcium carbonate, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate), wheat protein isolate, yeast extract, vitamin D2, natural flavor, enzymes.
I find it interesting that their 9 Grain Wheat Bread is almost exactly the same ingredients as the White Bread.
"Enriched wheat flour" is basically white flour. It's been enriched with the ingredients that the government requires white flour to have added.
Next time you visit the bread isle, take a picture of the ingredient list and post it to the Cancer Dietitian Facebook Page. Maybe it will help another reader to find a good bread!
Here are some of the articles I found interesting while writing up this topic:
A Guide to Decoding Ingredients on Grain Products
The Healthiest Breads: 6 Types Explained Identifying Whole Grain Products
, by the Whole Grain CouncilWhole Grain Handout
from the Iowa Cooperative Extension