What is the healthiest bread to eat?

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

It tastes really good, but we often get messages that, nutritionally speaking, it is so bad. Whole diets are aimed at cutting out bread and other carbohydrates and shaming people who eat them, said Natalie Mokari, a dietitian based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I see a lot of clients who think they shouldn’t be eating bread, which is sad to me because bread is a great source of whole grains,” she said.

Yes, it’s true: Bread can be part of a balanced diet, and carbs are essential for good health, she said.

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

“We need carbohydrates to function,” Mokari said. “Carbs are brain food. If you notice, whenever you don’t have carbohydrates, you feel very sluggish, maybe you have brain fog, you don’t have as much energy.”

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

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

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

Wheat bread offers more vitamins, whole grains and fiber, and has less of a negative impact on blood sugar, which may be helpful for people with insulin resistance, Mokari said.

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

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

For those concerned about gut health or wanting to capture the flavor of white bread without the same level of refinement, she suggested trying sourdough.

Sourdough is fermented, a process that can help kill microbes, and if you have a really slow fermentation, you may be able to digest the gluten more easily.

Apart from the type of bread, Mokari suggested looking at how it is made. Look for simple ingredients, such as flour, water, salt and yeast, she said, especially because it is easy to sneak higher levels of sugar and sodium in bread products.

If you’re looking for more fiber, whole grains are the way to go, Grasso said. To avoid misleading labels, check the ingredients list – the first word should be “whole” if it’s whole grain bread, she said.

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

And if possible, buying from local bakeries can help you find fresh, high-quality bread with simple ingredients, she suggested.

What about a low-carb diet or bread? Mokari is not a trailer. They usually have more extra and unnecessary ingredients to make them taste better, she said.

“But I respect people’s wishes if they truly feel that low carb is best for them,” she said.

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People rarely eat bread alone, so it is important to think about the nutrition of the whole meal.

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

Carbohydrates like those in bread can give you a quick burst of energy if you eat them alone, but adding protein and fat helps keep your momentum going, Grasso said.

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

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

For lunch, sandwiches are underrated for their ability to combine proteins, produce, healthy fats and carbohydrates, Grasso said. And if she has a big salad with protein for dinner, she always makes sure she has 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 – you will feel good.”

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

Prices can range widely, but you can find something that feeds you well no matter what your budget is, she said.

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

And if you like bread, eat it in ways you like, because you can severely restrict yourself from foods you like – and it’s not a very happy way to live, she 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 concern about carb-heavy foods like bread, because many people think in diet culture that it makes people gain weight, Grasso said. But carbohydrates serve an important purpose, and without them you may feel sluggish and irritable, she said.

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

“You have to treat your body well,” Grasso said. “It’s healthier to have an unrestrained mindset and balance it throughout your day.”

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