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Healthy Bread Shopping Guide

Best Bread


1. Ezekiel / 2. Alvarado / 3. Manna

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Suzanne-Headshot |Gimme the Good Stuff
Written by Suzanne, Chief Health Officer and Resident Grandmother

Bread has gotten a bad name in recent years due to the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets, grain-free diets, and gluten-free diets. While some of the criticism of wheat and bread is well deserved—I wouldn’t call most of what you see in the grocery store Good Stuff–I have found that for many people, totally giving up bread in order to be healthy is not necessary (and definitely not fun!).

Read on for what’s bad about most bread and my top picks for healthy bread.

What’s Wrong with Most Bread

A lot of bread, especially sliced sandwich bread with a long shelf life, includes unhealthy ingredients and additives. For instance:

  • Highly refined flour—you’ll even find this in some “whole grain” loaves.
  • Lots of added sugars, including high-fructose corn syrup—have you ever noticed how sweet some packaged breads are?
  • Cheap, low-quality oils, such as soy and canola, even in brands that you think may healthy bread.
  • Artificial preservatives—this enable a long shelf life, but I’d rather freeze or refrigerate my bread!
  • Artificial colors to make bread look browner (because that’s healthier, right?) or yellow (hello, potato bread!), etc.
  • Cellulose fiber, which is sneakily added to up the fiber content in “healthy” bread and is often sourced from wood in a chemical-laden process. I’d much rather get my fiber from real whole grains!
  • Industrial bread production involves a lot of other additives that we’d never use in our own kitchens, including dough conditioners (which are as gross as they sound).

What is Healthy Bread?

After all these decades of watching bread evolve, here is my definition of healthy bread: Healthy bread is made from real, whole-food ingredients–sprouted when possible. Be wary of ingredients that you don’t recognize.

My favorite healthy unsprouted breads are the sourdough ones with flour, water, and salt as the only ingredients.

Whatever kind of healthy bread you choose, consider some of my favorite toppings and spreads: nut butters (like almond and peanut), seed butters (like tahini, which goes great with honey!), and organic butter or ghee.

Gluten-Free

Gluten-free bread made from real ingredients. Beware: Most gluten-free breads are not healthy. They tend to be made from highly refined carbohydrates and include many additives to make up for the lack of gluten. The good kind of gluten-free bread is made from normal, whole foods, like nuts and seeds, and unfortunately, you’ll have to make it yourself!

My favorite gluten-free bread is Sarah Britton’s famous “Healthy Loaf of Bread,” and you can find that recipe here.

gluten-free bread

Manna

Manna Bread’s sprouted bread comes frozen in moist, dense loaves. You can find it in natural food stores or the organic section of some grocery stores. It is cake-like; in fact, their carrot-raisin loaf reminds me of carrot cake! Because of its dense consistency, it is better for a side dish or snack than a sandwich. There are a variety of flavors, from sweet to savory. I thaw mine and store it in the fridge. Aside from the fact that it’s delicious, I like that Manna Bread is made from sprouted grains, has simple ingredients, and is organic. It’s also yeast-free.


Sprouted Whole-Grain

Sprouted whole-grain breads are great because they’re more nutritious and easier to digest that regular sandwich bread. Ezekiel Bread is my favorite in this category because it’s widely available and comes in a variety of flavors, from sesame to cinnamon-raisin. Because it’s made from whole grains and legumes, it’s a great source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and many vitamins and minerals. I like their sliced loaves because I can toast the slices easily and use it like any normal sandwich bread. My second choice for a sprouted bread is Alvarado Street Bakery, which uses just a tiny bit of soy lecithin in their breads.

Amazon

Traditional

Traditional healthy breads from local bakeries: In Vermont, where we lived for many years, there are many bakeries that make traditional European-style sourdough breads baked in a brick oven. Such bakers source their grains or flours very carefully and generally use top-quality ingredients. To me, these are the very best healthy breads if you can find them (and if you don’t have issues with gluten).

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The Bad Stuff should come as no surprise–don’t buy Wonder Bread ;).


Here are some breads that SOUND like they could be healthful, but that contain those yucky ingredients I mentioned above (from soybean oil to artificial colors) and very little actual whole grains.


Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain (soybean oil, dough conditioners, and more)


Sara Lee 100% Whole Wheat (I mean, you probably didn’t think Sara Lee was Good Stuff, right?)


Thomas’ 100% Whole Wheat (sugar, preservatives)


Udi’s Whole Grain Bread (sugar, maltodextrin)


Vermont Bread Company Organic Multigrain Bread (although this is the best of this list, with the only not-so-great ingredients being soybean oil and lecithin. But note that the first ingredient is white flour, making the “multigrain” claim pretty misleading!)


To your health,

Suzanne's signature

P.S. You’ll notice in this post that I’ve linked a variety of ingredients to Thrive Market. If you aren’t familiar with Thrive, I encourage you to give it a try. It’s a Costco meets Whole Foods meets Amazon model, with hard-to-find healthful foods delivered, for free, at steeply discounted prices. (And our readers get a free jar of avocado mayo when they join via the link I just provided).


Bread


12 responses to “Healthy Bread Shopping Guide”

  1. Lisa Thomas

    Simple Kneads makes sourdough gluten free bread that is healthier than most of what you can find in the grocery stores.

  2. Amy

    I would love your thoughts in Oasis Low Carb breads!

    1. I looked at them today and I think they look like Good Stuff!

  3. james charles official

    hi sisters james charles here and welcome back to my youtube channel

  4. Daniella

    Have you ever tried Dave’s Killer Bread? The 21 whole grains and seeds is my favorite and seems like good stuff.

    1. Suzanne Weaver-Goss

      Yes, it is Good Stuff. We are on vacation Maia and I saw it at the grocery store. Maia said she doesn’t like it because it tastes too sweet. I just checked the ingredients and it does have 5 grams of sugar per slice. So eating this bread would depend on your personal views regarding sugar consumption. It does have lots of great ingredients though.

      1. Megan

        I agree – I wish they could tone down the sugar on Dave’s Killer Bread, but it sure it good aside from that! 🙂

    2. Elaina

      Same as above. Dave’s killer bread?

  5. Kari

    I love how I always check with your page when thinking about a new product… now that I see we were both once Vermonters…It all makes sense!

    1. I love that too and I love all Vermonters!

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