Q. The bread aisle is a very confusing place. What kind of bread should I be eating (if I should be eating it at all)?


A. Judith C. Thalheimer, RD, LDN, managing editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, answers: “Eating bread is fine, as long as you make good choices and don’t overdo it. In fact, your choice of bread can be an opportunity to improve your dietary pattern. Healthy dietary patterns include whole grains in place of refined grains. Ninety-eight percent of Americans fall below recommendations for whole grain intake and 74 percent consume too many refined grains, such as breads, pasta, wraps, and crackers made with white flour.

“When looking for whole grain bread choices, don’t be fooled by the color or misleading labeling language. The way to tell whether a grain product is made with mostly whole grains is to check the ingredient list: The first ingredient (or second after water) should be a whole grain, whether it be wheat or another grain. For breads with multiple whole-grain ingredients, at least one whole grain should appear near the beginning of the ingredient list. If you see the word ‘wheat’ alone, you can assume a product is made with refined flour. Likewise, if you see words like ‘enriched,’ ‘Durham,’ or ‘Semolina,’ you are likely holding a refined wheat product. Also, don’t judge a bread by its label. Products labeled “multi-grain” may be made with multiple refined grains.

“While you’re looking at the ingredient list, check the Nutrition Facts box for fiber, sodium, and added sugar content. Compare a few whole-grain or 100% whole wheat products and pick the ones within the lower range of sodium and added sugars, and the higher range of fiber. You may end up trying a few types over time to find the ones that best suits your texture and flavor preferences. Once you’ve settled on your favorite brands, swapping whole grain for refined grain products won’t be intimidating or time consuming!”


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