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What is the healthiest bread?

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One of the foods that many people hate to love is bread.

It tastes so good, but we often get messages that, nutritionally, it’s very bad. There are whole diets focused on cutting out bread and other carbohydrates and shaming people who eat them, said Natalie Mokari, a dietitian in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I see many customers who think they shouldn’t eat bread, which makes me sad because bread is a great source of whole grains,” she said.

Yes, it’s true: bread can be part of a balanced diet, and carbohydrates are crucial for good health, he said.

It might be a good idea to eat two to three servings of whole grains dailythat can be found in bread, as they can prevent type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colorectal, pancreatic, and gastric cancer, according to a 2017 study.

“We need carbohydrates to function,” Mokari said. “Carbohydrates are food for the brain. If you notice, any time you don’t have carbs, you feel really sluggish, you might have brain fog, you just don’t have as much energy.”

If you’re looking for the healthiest bread, there are many factors to consider, such as what kind you buy, what you eat with it, and how balanced your relationship with it is, Mokari said.

Is there any type of bread that is more nutritious than the others? It depends on what you are looking for.

“It’s important to define your health goals,” said Steph Grasso, a Washington, DC-based dietician and creator of TikTok. “What does healthy mean?”

Wheat breads offer more vitamins, whole grains and fiber, and have less of a negative impact on blood sugar, which may be helpful for people who have insulin resistance, Mokari said.

But some people just have a strong preference for white bread, and Mokari tells them to go for it.

“If you break it down and put the labels side by side, they’re really not that different,” he said.

For those concerned about good health or who want to capture the flavor of white bread without the same level of refinement, he suggested trying sourdough.

Sourdough is fermented, a process that can be helpful for your gut microbiomes, and if what you have is truly slow-fermented sourdough, you may be able to digest gluten more easily.

Beyond the type of bread, Mokari recommended looking at how it is made. Look for simple ingredients, like flour, water, salt and yeast, she said, especially since it’s easy to sneak higher levels of sugar and sodium into bread products.

If you’re looking for more fiber, whole grains are the way to go, Grasso said. To avoid misleading labels, check the ingredient list: The first word should be “whole-grain” if it’s actually whole-grain bread, he added.

For a little more fiber, look for bread with seeds in the crust, Grasso said.

And if possible, shopping at local bakeries can help you find good quality, fresh bread with simple ingredients, she advised.

What about diet or low carb breads? Mokari is not a fan. They usually have more added and unnecessary ingredients to make them taste better, he said.

“But I respect people’s wishes if they really feel low-carb is in their best interest,” he said.

Rarely do people eat bread by themselves, so it’s important to think about the nutrition of the entire meal.

If you’re concerned about blood sugar, bread can be part of a balanced meal if you add healthy fats and protein, Mokari said.

Carbohydrates like the ones in bread can give you a quick burst of energy that plummets if eaten alone, but adding protein and fat helps keep the drive sustained, Grasso said.

“Whether it’s brown or white bread, I’m going to encourage someone to always have a protein and a fat,” Mokari added.

For example, if you’re making breakfast, try pairing toast with eggs, avocado or peanut butter, she added.

For lunch, sandwiches are underrated for their ability to combine protein, produce healthy fats and carbohydrates, Grasso said. And if you have a big protein salad for dinner, you always make sure to have carbs like a piece of bread to go with it.

“It’s about balance,” Grasso said. “At the end of the day, it will give you energy, it will make you feel good.”

Even more than finding the best ingredient label, it’s important to know what works for you, Grasso said.

Breads can range widely in price, but you can find something that fuels you just as well no matter what your budget is, he said.

“Fantastic doesn’t mean always better,” Grasso said.

And if you like bread, eat it the way you like it, because severely restricting yourself from the foods you like can backfire, and it’s just not a very happy way to live, he said.

“Just like anything, the more you restrict, the more you want it, so keep it in the mix,” Mokari said.

There may be some anxiety around carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, because the diet culture has led many people to think that it makes people gain weight, Grasso said. But carbs serve an important purpose, and without them you could end up feeling sluggish and cranky, he added.

“Remove that stigma from bread and those other carbohydrate foods that have been demonized and include them as part of a balanced diet,” Mokari said.

“You just have to treat your body right,” Grasso said. “It’s healthier to have a non-restrictive mindset and balance it throughout the day.”


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