Written By Salina Jivani
If you’re like most people, you’ve had a love-hate relationship with carbs at some point. And who can blame you? With all the dieticians out there keen on slinging mud on our hip-clinging friends, like rice, bread, and, yes, donuts, it’s tempting to completely banish these traitors from our lives. But if your worth the grain on your bread, you know that carbs are an essential part of any well balanced diet. And let’s be real: diets that are carb-restricted are doomed for failure at some point, because practically it’s not possible or healthy to go forever without these essential (and oh so yum) foods in our lives.
The trick to eating carbs is to select the healthy ones (yes, wave good bye to bagel’s frosted and sprinkled twin)—which can be especially difficult when it comes to one of America’s most necessary staples, if storms and power outages are anything to go by—bread. And with store-bought breads containing harmful ingredients while deceptively boasting their nutritional superiority over competitors’, it’s easy to see why they have a bad rap. After all, how can you trust a food that’s constantly under so much scrutiny?
But don’t give up hope. There’s a way to make sure you’re including this can-be-healthy food into your daily diets—while benefiting from its merits. To make sure you’re buying the healthiest most natural, nutrient-dense bread, we’ve compiled some important information you should consider the next time you find yourself browsing the bakery aisle.
Ingredients to avoid
Let’s start with the no-nos. You may not give it much thought, but the bread most of us have lurking in our pantries has a ton of very bad, not so great ingredients. A quick skim of your bread packaging may reveal some of these unhealthy items:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Soybean oil, corn oil
- Corn starch,
- Soy lecithin
- Food coloring
- Any terms you cannot pronounce—these typically sound more like names of chemicals that belong in a lab than whole foods you may find in the aisle of a grocery store.
Why are these ingredients bad for you? We’re glad you asked.
Of course, manufactured sugars are an obvious. Nothing good ever comes out of them and they’re certainly not healthy for you. Plus, even fake sugars are known to cause cancers and heart disease while others that operate under a cleverly named alias, like high fructose corn syrup, can cause health risks including weight gain, diabetes, and bad cholesterol.
Genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) like soybean oil, corn oil, corn starch, and soy lecithin can be detrimental to your health because the original forms from which these oils are derived often contain pesticides that are poisonous and can prove toxic when ingested.
Preservatives, which are often present in many breads and are sometimes listed simply as “preservatives” on the ingredients panel, can lead to long-term diseases like ADHD.
Even the simpler, seemingly harmless ingredients like food coloring or artificial flavors can lead to a development of allergies or asthma.
And of course the ingredients you can pronounce are usually the ones you should steer clear of the most, because these are the ones that are lab-manufactured, just like they sound, and can pose a whole slew of health issues including, but not limited to, cancers and tumors. (Think about it—you’re expecting your body to digest lab-devised chemicals. There’s no way that can be healthy!)
What you should look for
Now that you know what to avoid, let’s talk about what you should look for. Put simply, anything that is a real ingredient and is healthy for you gets a green checkmark. Examples include whole wheat, herbs, flaxseed, rice bran, yeast, hemp seeds…you get the drift. If it sounds like a real food your mom would encourage you to eat, it’s probably safe.
Best brands on the shelves
Now that we have all the good and the bad out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff! Even though we’ve made that loaf in your pantry look as threatening as it did when the Atkins diet took the world by storm, let us reassure you that bread is and can still be a healthy carb. And the good news is, you don’t have to don an apron and cover yourself in flour from head-to-toe to avoid the adverse health effects of poorly choiced purchase—there are some great options right there on those super market shelves. That’s right, there’s hope. In fact, here are the brands that are top-rated by many trusted health advocates:
- Ezekiel (foodforlife.com)
- Manna Organics (mannaorganicbakery.com)
- Rudi’s (rudisbakery.com)
- Silver Hills (silverhillsbakery.ca)
- Alvarado St. Bakery (alvaradostreetbakery.com)
- Dave’s Killer Bread (daveskillerbread.com)
So don’t be afraid of the B word (bread, of course!). Just remember, an educated consumer is the best one