Battle of breads

Battle of breads.jpg

The bread aisle looks innocent enough but take a stroll down it and by the time you get to the end your head may be spinning – whole wheat, multigrain, seven-grain, 12-grain, all natural, organic and enriched.  How do you know which type of bread is best when there are so many varieties to choose from?

To keep it simple, people often want to know, which one is better – whole grain or multi grain bread?  Food labels are confusing and you’re not the only one who is perplexed.  You want to choose bread that is healthy and has the most nutritional value.  Here’s what you need to know about how to cut through the labeling clutter on bread:

·         Multi grain and whole grain are not interchangeable terms.

·         Whole grain means that all parts of the grain kernel – the bran, germ, and endosperm – are used.  This is good because three parts mean more vital nutrients.

·         The bran is the tough fibrous outer shell of the wheat kernel.  It contains important antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber.

·         The endosperm is the largest part of the grain and is the starchy part of the grain where most of the carbohydrate can be found.  It also provides proteins and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.

·         The germ is the only portion of the grain that contains healthy fats.  It also contains B vitamin, some protein, and minerals.

·         Multi grain bread is sometimes called 7-grain bread or 12-grain bread.  Multigrain means that a food contains more than one type of grain but with none of them necessarily being a whole grain, so it would contain less important nutrients.

·         If a bread label simply says “wheat bread” or “Multigrain” they may sound healthy but they probably are made partially or mostly with refined white flour. 

·         Wheat flour is 75 percent white flour and only 25 percent whole wheat.

The words you need to look for on a bread label is “100 percent whole grain” or “100 percent whole wheat.”  Both types of bread are acceptable as they contain all parts of the grain kernel and are good sources of protein, fiber, B vitamins, and other nutrients that may help to lower blood pressure, reduce gum disease, strengthen the immune system, and control weight.

Reading ingredient lists are another valuable clue to the nutritional quality of bread or any food for that matter.  Ingredients are listed in order of predominance by weight.  The first ingredient of breads should say “100 percent whole wheat flour” or “whole grain flour.”  Again, if it just says “wheat flour” or “enriched white flour,” those breads are not considered a whole grain bread.

So, if you haven’t figured it out by now, the verdict for which is better – whole grain or multigrain?   The obvious choice is go for the whole grain breads, knowing you’ve made a wise choice.