Few foods are as important as bread. On its own, bread hardly constitutes a satisfying delicacy – but it is absolutely essential to countless dishes.
It’s an absolute culinary catalyst: without bread, sandwiches would be a distant fantasy, breakfast toast wouldn’t exist, and Sunday mornings would be completely devoid of bagels and cream cheese (gasp!). In a literal and figurative sense, bread binds these dishes together.
Not surprisingly, Americans just can’t eat enough bread. It is estimated that in 2020 alone, 326.91 million Americans will eat at least some bread. That’s almost the entire US population. Additionally, the average American is believed to consume a staggering 53 pounds of bread per year!
One thing is clear: The bread aisles of grocery stores across the country are still heavily trafficked. There are countless bread varieties, brands, and options to choose from, but each has its own unique nutritional profile. Some breads are much better for you than others.
“It (bread) is very nutritious, a great source of slow-release carbohydrates in our diet, rich in vitamins and minerals,” dietitian Jaime Rose Chambers told Australia recently today. “But we have to choose right.”
What are some good rules of thumb to keep in mind when looking for healthy bread?
“The bread should look dark brown and be rich in seeds and grains. That’s what we’re ultimately looking for, and it’s going to have a high nutritional value,” explains Rose Chambers.
While some breads are really healthy, other varieties and brands are severely lacking in the nutrition and quality department. Eating these breads regularly will not do your body any favors.
We’ve listed the top five grocery bread brands you should stay away from.
There’s no better representation of summer barbecue and American-style bread than Wonder Bread. Unfortunately, the brand offers more than nourishment when it comes to nostalgia.
“One of the worst bread brands I’ve ever seen is Wonder. White bread is the most nutrient-deficient bread. The flour is processed to remove the bran and germ, which contains a lot of fiber and nutrients,” explains Rachel Lessenden, Healthy Me The founder of lifestyle.
When whole wheat flour is refined into white flour, a lot of essential vitamins, fiber and protein are sacrificed in the process. Even Wonder Bread’s 100% whole-wheat option somehow still only provides 2 grams of fiber per slice.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a grocery store in the US that doesn’t have at least some Wonder Bread products. Major grocery stores that carry Wonder Bread include Publix, Winn-Dixie, Target and ShopRite.
Nature’s Own is available at various grocery stores across the US, such as Target, ShopRite, and Stop & Shop, offering a wide selection of breads. From butter bread to honey wheat or 100% whole wheat, they seem to boast a slice of bread for anyone and everyone.
But – just how healthy are these bread options? From a nutritional standpoint, the brand’s buttery bread line can definitely be improved. With just 2 grams of protein per slice and very little fiber, you may still feel hungry after eating multiple slices of this bread.
Meanwhile, Nature’s Own Honey Wheat Bread range may contain some whole wheat flour, but also barley malt flour and soy flour. This means that, for your stomach, this bread is far more processed than it says on the label.
Sunbeam bread may be known for its larger size, but bigger isn’t always better. Its Texas Toast line of bread has a lot of sodium per slice (9% DV), and there’s not even enough fiber in a single slice to make up a gram of bread.
At the same time, Sunbeam is known to use a azodicarbonamide in its bread products. Nicknamed the “yoga mat chemical” because it is used in the production of bread and yoga mats, the substance is primarily used as a bleach for bread and as a dough conditioner.
Although azodicarbonamide is FDA-approved for human consumption, there is evidence that it is linked to many health problems, such as respiratory problems and even cancer. Fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s stopped using azodicarbonamide a few years ago, a chemical that has been banned in the European Union for more than a decade.
Sunbeam bread products are widely available in grocery stores such as Walmart, Target and Kroger.
Going for lighter bread options like Sara Lee’s Delightful or Artesano bread line may seem like a wise shopping decision, but so-called healthier options like these often contain both artificial sweeteners and low-calorie fiber fillers, such as those derived from wood pulp . Um!
“Another bread brand to be wary of is Sara Lee’s Artesano line. The marketing makes these breads look healthier, claiming to be free of high fructose corn syrup, but they still have added sugar and processed flour,” adds Lessenden.
While you’re at it, steer clear of Sara Lee’s premium Italian bread. One tablet contains 10% of your daily sodium value (240 mg).
Sara Lee bread can be found in many grocery stores including Target, Giant, Safeway and Walmart.
Pepperidge Farm might be America’s premier bread company if it weren’t for the range of bread products they offer.
Unfortunately, many of these options contain too much sodium and sugar. Take their Farmhouse Hearty White bread, for example: 230mg of sodium and 4g of sugar per slice doesn’t quite set the stage for a healthy meal.
Many people love cinnamon raisin toast in the morning, but even Pepperidge Farm’s 100% whole-wheat cinnamon with raisin toast has just 2 grams of fiber (and 5 grams of sugar!) per slice.
Likewise, Pepperidge Farm’s purportedly healthier options leave a lot to be desired when it comes to nutrition. Somehow, its Multigrain 12 Grain Bread contains only one gram of dietary fiber and an astonishing 220 mg of sodium and 5 grams of sugar.
Pepperidge Farm bread products are available at a variety of grocery and convenience stores including Publix, CVS and Duane Reade.