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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!

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

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How to Find the Healthiest Bread to Eat (Your Bread Buying 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, bread as a general category is usually processed and high in sugar and 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!

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

This is your guide to the healthiest breads 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.

But first, here are some general ground rules for buying bread:

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): 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 what bread should you buy? 

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!

Here Are The Healthiest Breads on the Market (Sprouted Grains and Gluten-Free Varieties):

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

Sprouted Grain Breads

Gluten-Free Breads

Flaxseed Bread

  • Healthy Joy Bakes Omega Power Bread – two slices of this bread literally have 18g protein and 8g fiber total. The bread is made with flaxseeds, so it has that flax-gummy texture after chewing.

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. Generally, 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!

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

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

  1. I’m trying to find a healthy bread that my kids will actually eat. I want to make homemade “uncrustables” but they won’t eat any bread that has seeds or nuts or anything without a smooth texture. It’s frustrating to hear that basically no other breads are good for you.

    • Hi Robin! I’d encourage you to try Dave’s Killer Bread for your kids. It has a similar texture to “unhealthier” breads but is actually good for you! You can cut off the crusts, and your kids won’t see any of the seeds/sprouted grains/etc. included in the bread. Hope that helps!

  2. Thank you for this information. I have found that I’m allergic to quite a bit and it has been rough trying to navigate. I wish they would ban Canola Oil(rapeseed), it seems to be in every product I might be able to eat, but than Nope put it back. Wheat Allergy, not gluten. I reached out to a company to ask them to consider adding a different oil in their bread. I was so excited to see I may be able to eat a sandwich once every 4 days with a Rice bread, or possibly the sprouted breads.

    • Hi Diana! I’m glad this post was helpful for you and I can’t imagine how stressful it must be trying to navigate your allergies! I hope the sprouted breads work out for you! 🙂

  3. I am a very picky eater and have a hard time with certain textures. Do any of the healthy bread options have a smooth texture? Appreciate the help!

    • Hi Lisa! Most sprouted wheat breads do have a chewier texture, but out of all of these I’d say Dave’s Killer Bread probably has the smoothest texture and is certainly worth a try! Hope that helps!

  4. Thanks for this! Do you know if any healthy breads are sold at Costco? I have a big family so we tend to shop there.

  5. Hey Anjali, Thank you for this post! But I have not seen these breads in Meijer/Kroger here in Ann Arbor.. Do you have any recommendations for commonly available brand that doesn’t have some of the worst ingredients pls??

    • Hi Gayatri! Dave’s Killer Bread is actually at Kroger! I was there the other day and saw a few of their sprouted varieties on the store shelves 🙂 But if you live in Ann Arbor I’d encourage you to stop by Whole Foods or Plum Market – there is one of each on both the west side and east side of town – and both stores carry almost all of the bread options in my post! Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

  6. I loved this article. Just wanted you to know there are still health consequences for me anyway. My blood sigar went up 50 points when I ate ☝🏼 slice of Dave’s Killer Breafd! Is that normal to spike so high? Thx

    • Hi Gloria! If you’re watching your blood sugar very carefully, that can happen with some of these bread options. While Dave’s Killer Bread is a good option for most people, it will still spike your blood sugar more than something like the Ezekiel bread – since Dave’s Killer bread still has some non-sprouted grains included and Ezekiel doesn’t. I’d be curious how your blood sugar does after eating a piece of the Ezekiel bread instead! Let me know if you try it and how that goes!

    • Hi Pang! This particular bread isn’t horrible, but it’s not great either. It’s still higher glycemic than I’d like and has sugar added to it. I’d really go with a sprouted grain bread instead – it will be much healthier and will still taste good! 🙂

    • Hi Niki! Usually cinnamon raisin bread has way too much sugar added – but if you can find a sprouted wheat one with no sugar added (less than 2g sugar per slice is a good rule of thumb) – then that would be ok to eat!

  7. I am trying to lose weight, but bread is my weakness. The Ezekiel bread is so dense so I looked for others like it. I found Natures Own Life 7 Sprouted grain bread. It is way better than the others. Is this a good option? There are no reviews or blogs that I can find on it.

    • Hi Synora! Thanks for reaching out! Nature’s Own Sprouted Grain bread isn’t horrible but it wouldn’t be one of my top choices either for these reasons: it has 2g added sugar per slice (so for 2 slices of bread that’s 1 tsp of added sugar – which is too much!), and it has a lot of preservatives and stabilizers which aren’t in the other breads I list in my post (e.g. sunflower lecithin, calcium sulfate, vinegar, ascorbic acid, enzymes, soy lecithin). A good alternative for you might be Little Big Bread which has much cleaner ingredients but is also a much lighter, less dense bread than Ezekiel! Hope that helps!

  8. I’ve read that sourdough bread is a “good” bread. I buy it fresh from a bakery… Is this ok? I know Ezekiel is the best but I really don’t like the taste… thoughts?

    • Hi Pyari! So sourdough bread is good and bad 🙂 It is low in fiber and high in refined carbs – which isn’t very healthy. But, because it’s made using live yeast, it stays fresh after being baked much longer than factory baked bread and doesn’t require any extra preservatives to ward off mold. So that’s a plus! Also, the live cultures used in making sourdough create lactic acid in the bread, which helps decrease the levels of phytic acid in the bread, which helps your body to absorb the nutrients in the bread more easily and makes the bread more easily digestible. But it’s still higher glycemic than sprouted bread, and is low in fiber, and high in calories and refined carbs. So I’d still recommend sprouted bread over sourdough — unless it’s sprouted sourdough bread 🙂 I hope that helps! If you don’t like Ezekiel, try one of the other sprouted breads I linked to in my post – all of them are good for you and are good substitutes for Ezekiel!

    • Hi Frank! It’s not that monoglycerides specifically will make you gain weight (or make it hard to lose weight), it’s more it’s a chemical added to the bread to make the bread making process faster and scalable to big batches. So it’s artificially decreasing the baking time for the bread – and you wouldn’t add them to bread if you were baking it at home. What that indicates is that bread that is heavily processed, which is usually correlated with bread that’s unhealthy, has refined carbs, and will likely make it hard to keep the weight off. Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

    • Hi Alex! All of those ingredients are indicative of added sugars in the bread. Bread with flavors like “cinnamon roll,” or “honey vanilla,” or “cinnamon raisin” have added sugars and are usually also made with refined flours – making that bread act more like sugar in your body than a healthy whole grain. Let me know if that makes sense and if you have any other questions!

  9. Wow!! This was the much needed information!! I was quite afraid of some unhealthy facts about bread..Now finally i can choose a healthy variety to complete my breakfast Snacks!! Thank you so much for sharing this valuable post..Happy to found you 🙂

    • Hi Anjini! I’m so glad you found this post helpful! I wouldn’t recommend cracked wheat bread. It’s one of those marketing terms that’s meant to make the bread sound healthy when it’s not. For example, take a look at two popular brands of cracked wheat bread (I’ve bolded all of the unhealthy ingredients):
      1) Sara Lee Cracked Wheat Bread: Enriched wheat flour [flour, malted barley flour, reduced iron, niacin, thiamin mononitrate (vitamin b1), riboflavin (vitamin b2), folic acid], water, whole wheat cuts, sugar, wheat gluten, yeast, crushed wheat, soybean oil, salt, wheat bran, calcium sulfate, molasses, raisin juice concentrate, grain vinegar, calcium propionate (preservative), monoglycerides, datem, citric acid, potassium iodate, monocalcium phosphate, soy lecithin, cornstarch.
      2) Oroweat Cracked Wheat Bread: Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour [FLOUR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, REDUCED IRON, NIACIN, THIAMIN MONONITRATE (VITAMIN B1), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), FOLIC ACID], Cracked Wheat, Sunflower Seeds, Sugar, Wheat Gluten, Oats, Yeast, Oat Fiber, Soybean OIl, Salt, Grain Vinegar, Flaxseed, Sesame Seeds, Molasses, Preservatives (Calcium Propionate, Sorbic Acid), Monoglycerides, DATEM, Sea Salt, Calcium Sulfate, Soy Lecithin, Nuts [Walnuts, Hazelnuts (Filberts), Almonds], Soy, Whey (Milk).
      Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

    • Thanks Miranda! I’m pretty sure most of these are national brands, I’d check the freezer section of your grocery store to be sure!

  10. I am trying to lose weight as a result of not smoking anymore and eating everything in sight. This type of information will help me make better choices when shopping and still give me the flavor I like. Thank you so much…

    • Thank you Cynthia! Kudos to you for quitting smoking btw – that is an amazing accomplishment and you should be proud! I’m so glad this post will help you in making healthier choices at the grocery store. Keep me posted on how things go – I wish you all the best!

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