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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

How to Find the Healthiest Bread to Eat (Your Bread Buying Guide!)

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There are so many varieties of bread lining grocery store shelves these days, it can be hard to figure out which is the best to buy. This guide will help you discover the healthiest bread available today, what to consider when buying bread, and what types of bread to avoid!

photo of bread in the Healthiest Bread to Eat guide

One of the questions I get asked most often is: do you eat bread?

And people are usually surprised when I say that bread is one of my favorite things to eat. Of course I eat bread! I love the smell of fresh bread in the morning, whole grains, and all of the ways you can use bread in recipes.

Bread has gotten a really bad reputation because of various diet fads: no-carb, gluten-free, paleo, etc. It’s been vilified as the cause for everything from weight gain, to inflammation, to diabetes, to digestion issues… the list could go on.

The truth is, most bread is usually processed, high in sugar and high simple carbohydrates – which can cause weight gain and other issues. Also, the main problem with wheat (unless you have celiac disease or a severe gluten sensitivity that has been diagnosed) is that we eat too much of it as a society in general.

Eating white bread, white crackers, white pasta, white rice (white anything, basically) is the equivalent to taking a spoonful of sugar and dissolving it in your mouth. This is because when you eat a grain that has been refined into flour, your body quickly metabolizes it like a sugar (any grain pulverized into a fine flour has a high glycemic index – as much as sugar), and this causes your insulin to spike. This can make you gain weight and contributes to diabetes and inflammation.

But there are types of bread that can actually be really good for you and won’t cause all of these problems! So how are you supposed to figure out which bread is the healthiest? And how can you avoid those breads that look healthy but actually aren’t?

That’s where this post comes in!

This is your guide to the healthiest bread on the market.

I’m going to help you find your way through the many marketing labels like “whole grain,” “multigrain,” “12 grain,” “wheat,” or “all natural” on the 50+ bread varieties you’ll see at your local grocery store, and give you the list of the healthiest bread to buy.

photo of fresh bread - healthiest bread available on the market today

What Should You Look For In The Healthiest Bread?

Healthiest Bread Characteristics To Look For:

  • Sprouted grains (sprouted wheat or other grains are one of the first ingredients you should look for)
  • No added sugar on the ingredients list (less than 2g sugar per slice)
  • At least 2g fiber per serving
  • No ingredients you can’t pronounce – if you can’t pronounce it, it is likely a preservative or stabilizer that is not necessary in bread
  • Organic, if possible

Ingredients to ALWAYS AVOID:

  • Anything white
  • Anything with “enriched,” “bleached,” or “unbleached” as part of the first ingredient. “Enriched wheat” = “White”
  • Be wary of “wheat” or even “100% whole wheat” — some breads will have this as an ingredient but are still highly processed and refined
  • Anything with less than 2g fiber per serving
  • Anything with raisins, dried fruits, cinnamon, banana, honey, or vanilla listed on the packaging
  • Dough conditioners (like azodicarbonamide, DATEM, monoglycerides, diglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate): these are just chemicals added to the bread to make the bread making process faster and scalable to big batches. They’re not necessary for real bread, and if these ingredients are on the label, it’s a good sign that the bread isn’t truly healthy.
  • GMO ingredients like soybean oil and corn oil (honestly, these are just not necessary to make bread)
  • Preservatives (like calcium propionate) or stabilizers like maltodextrin: bread isn’t supposed to be able to last on the counter for 1-2 weeks without getting hard and moldy. If you see any ingredients you can’t pronounce, it’s likely a preservative so put the bread down and find another option.
  • Added sugar: If your bread has yeast, it will likely have a tiny bit of honey or sugar because you need sugar to activate yeast. That being said, anything over 2g per slice is unnecessary. Watch out for high fructose corn syrup, any kind of syrup or artificial sweeteners added to bread. This is especially true for light breads.
  • Artificial flavors and coloring: Caramel coloring is often added to fake “wheat” breads to make them seem more brown. If you see this on the label, avoid that bread!

Take a look at the ingredients in some popular bread brands: DO NOT BUY THESE (or brands like these)

How to Find the Healthiest Bread to Eat (Your Bread Buying Guide!)

Sara Lee Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread: Whole wheat flour, water, wheat gluten, sugar, yeast, soybean oil, salt, molasses, wheat bran, calcium propionate (preservative), datem, monoglycerides, calcium sulfate, cellulose gum, monocalcium phosphate, cornstarch, soy lecithin, citric acid, grain vinegar, potassium iodate

Pepperidge Farm 100% Whole Wheat Bread: Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Wheat Berries, Wheat Gluten, Sugar, Yeast, Sugarcane Fiber, Honey, Unsulphured Molasses, Contains 2 Percent or Less of: Soybean Oil, Wheat, Nonfat Milk (Adds a Trivial Amount of Cholesterol), Lower Sodium Natural Sea Salt, Calcium Propionate and Sorbic Acid to Retard Spoilage, Salt, Distilled Monoglycerides, DATEM (Dough Conditioner), Chicory Root Fiber, Soy Lecithin.

Udi’s Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread: Udi’s Best Blend (Tapioca & Potato Starch, Brown Rice & Teff Flour, Modified Tapioca Starch), Water, Non-GMO Vegetable Oil (Canola or Sunflower or Safflower), Egg Whites, Evaporated Cane Juice, Tapioca Maltodextrin, Tapioca Syrup, Yeast, Flax Seed, Zantham Gum, Salt, Baking Powder, Cultured Corn Syrup Solids (Natural Mold Inhibitor), Dry Molasses, Enzymes

Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread: Stone ground whole wheat flour, water, yeast, brown sugar, wheat gluten, contains 2% or less of each of the following: salt, dough conditioners (contains one or more of the following: sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium stearoyl lactylate, monoglycerides, mono- and diglycerides, distilled monoglycerides, calcium peroxide, calcium iodate, datem, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides, enzymes, ascorbic acid), soybean oil, vinegar, cultured wheat flour, monocalcium phosphate, ammonium sulfate, citric acid, sodium citrate, soy lecithin, natamycin (to retard spoilage).

So, Which Is The Healthiest Bread?

Always Buy Sprouted-Wheat and Sprouted-Grain Breads!

Sprouted grains are actually, technically, vegetables. To sprout a grain, you soak it in water until it begins to sprout into a little plant. These sprouts are then ground up to make bread. Also, when grains are sprouted, starches and proteins are converted into smaller molecules that are easier to digest. That means sprouted breads offer more essential amino acids, iron, minerals, and B vitamins than standard whole-grain or even 100% whole wheat varieties. This is what sprouted grains look like (aren’t they cute? 🙂 )

Sprouted Wheat in Jar

My two personal favorite sprouted grain breads are the Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Flax Bread, and the Silver Hills Bakery Little Big Bread. There are no preservatives in these breads, so I freeze them and take out slices as I need them. These breads are available in most health food stores and conventional grocery stores in the freezer section. But there are other great options too – so you should be able to find at least one of the breads in the list below at your local grocery store!

Top 12 Healthiest Breads on the Market (Sprouted Grains and Gluten-Free Varieties):

How to Find the Healthiest Bread to Eat (Your Bread Buying Guide!)

The Healthiest Sprouted Grain or Flax Breads

The Best Gluten-Free Breads

Can I eat bread and still lose weight?

The main issues when it comes to bread and weight loss is due to refined grains and portion control. If you’re eating 4 servings of white grains / white bread per day, it will be very difficult to lose weight because that bread is just converted to sugar in your body. And, eating too much sugar contributes to weight gain. However, if you choose sprouted wheat bread and stick to 2 slices per day (max), along with a balanced diet with lots of fresh produce, you can absolutely eat bread and still lose weight!

Which bread is best for weight loss?

Any sprouted wheat bread will be the best bread for weight loss. Ezekiel / Food For Life Bread or Dave’s Killer breads are pretty widely available, so I would recommend those to start! I wouldn’t necessarily choose gluten-free breads for weight loss specifically, unless you have a diagnosed allergy to gluten.

If you ever forget these particular bread brands, just remember to look for: sprouted grains, no preservatives or dough conditioners, and no ingredients you can’t pronounce. Another great rule of thumb to keep in mind: if the bread is in the freezer section it’s a good sign that it’s healthy. I hope this helps you navigate the ever-confusing bread aisle at the grocery store!

CHECK OUT THESE OTHER HEALTHY FOOD / GROCERY STORE GUIDES!

60 responses to “How to Find the Healthiest Bread to Eat (Your Bread Buying Guide!)”

  1. I have diverticulitis, and actually scared to eat the bread with seeds. Are there any healthy options without all the sprouts and seeds?

    • Hi Monica! Ezekiel breads are made with sprouted grains, but the bread itself isn’t full of seeds, so I would ask your doctor if Ezekiel bread would be ok to eat given your diverticulitis!

    • Whole wheat pita is a good option – I like the Ezekiel whole wheat pita bread. For flatbreads – there aren’t that many whole wheat flatbreads that I’ve found without a ton of other preservatives/stabilizers/etc. but if you can find one that has a clean ingredients list, that can work too!

  2. Hi my name is Trizzah and I am in eight grade I am doing a PJAs project. And right now I am trying to write my hypothesis. I am having some difficulty I would like to ask this question which bread has the most preservatives wheat ,white or rye.

    • Hi Trizzah! Thanks for reaching out to me! To your question – honestly – it’s not the type of bread that determines the amount of preservatives – it’s the manufacturer. So for example, an artisan, organic producer of rye or white bread could make a preservative free version, while a mass produced non-organic wheat bread could be filled with preservatives. So it’s not whether wheat, rye, or white has more or less preservatives — it’s just about who is making the bread and what they decide to add to it. When it comes to other things like fiber, for example, wheat and rye will have more fiber than white no matter who is producing it. But preservatives are manufacturer dependent. Hope that helps!

  3. Hi Anjali! Thanks for the great article. I was wondering why you don’t like bread with added fruits in them (such as Ezekiel’s Cinnamon Raisin)? Thanks!

    • Hi Alexa! The main reason is the sugar content. Dried fruits tend to have a lot of sugar because the sugar gets concentrated as the fruit dries (so a 1/2 cup of dried fruit will have way more sugar than a 1/2 cup of fresh fruit), and bread with added fruit will also end up with a lot of sugar. The Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin bread has 5g sugar per slice from the raisins. So 2 slices of bread will run you as much sugar as a fun sized Milky Way bar! We get so much sugar from other sources that when it comes to bread, where you can really control the sugar, I find it best to just stick to varieties that have the least amount of sugar as possible. Hope that helps!

  4. Hey Anjali! As I’m exploring more baking options during the pandemic, do you have good recipes to make a bread loaf from scratch? Where could I source organic sprouted ingredients from? I have a recipe for Hokkaido Milk Bread, which turned out super soft (and my picky eaters gobbled them up), but it of course uses sugar and turned out best when made with refined, bleached, all purpose flour vs. whole wheat all purpose flour.
    Thanks, and big hugs to you and the fam!

    • Hi Chinmayi! So good to hear from you! So the good news is, most healthier flours are just a 1:1 replacement for any all purpose flour used in any bread recipe. All whole wheat / oat / sprouted wheat flours will create a denser bread than all purpose flour, just because of the nature of the flour — so you likely won’t be able to recreate that super soft milk bread texture with a non-refined flour. That said, if you’re ok with that, you can use any bread recipe you like and swap out the all purpose flour for a healthier flour and it should work! I found sprouted wheat flour at Whole Foods – King Arthur Flour makes a 100% sprouted wheat option. Hope that helps! And hope you’re all doing well! 🙂

  5. Hi! I have noticed both Ezekiel and Dave’s Killer Bread are really good options, but which one would be “the best” or the healthiest one? Also, in Dave’s Killer Bread there are normal and thin-sliced options, what’s your opinion in that? Thanks a lot! And thank you for answering my questions :))

    • Hi Valerie! Ezekiel is better than Dave’s Killer Bread because Ezekiel has no sugar added, and Dave’s Killer Bread will have added sugar in most of their breads. Dave’s thin sliced options are usually only about 10 calories less per slice than Ezekiel, so you’re not saving much there! I’d basically go with Ezekiel and use Dave’s Killer Bread’s thin sliced options if you can’t find Ezekiel at your grocery store!

  6. Hi! Could you give me an opinion on a bread brand named “Oroweat”? It has a lot of varieties, including whole wheat, multigrain, etc., but I’m not so sure if it’s actually healthy. Thank you! Love your page 🙂

    • Hi Valerie! I am familiar with Oroweat and it’s closer to bread brands that look healthy but aren’t for a few reasons: Depending on which bread you choose, each slice can have anywhere from 3-6g sugar, with most of their varieties averaging 5g sugar per slice! That’s 10g sugar if you use 2 slices of bread – the equivalent of eating a Fun Sized Milky Way bar every time you eat a sandwich – which is crazy! That’s the main reason I don’t recommend them. The other reasons include: they don’t have a sprouted wheat option, they do have some organic varieties but they are all high in sugar, and they use soybean oil in many of their breads. Hope that helps!

  7. What are some good buns and tortilla shells? I have noticed that they all have the bad stuff too and I use these more often than regular bread.

    • Hi Dawn! Ezekiel, Alvarado Street Bakery and a few other brands make really good quality sprouted wheat burger buns – that’s what I’d recommend using. For tortillas – do you mean soft wheat tortillas? If so – same principle here! I like using sprouted wheat tortillas and if I can’t find sprouted wheat tortillas, I’ll go with organic whole wheat tortillas that can be found in the refrigerated section (which is how you know there are no preservatives added). Hope that helps!

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