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Are You Sure Your Brown Bread Is Healthier Than the White One? 

Warning: Most brown bread is a white bread with a fake tan. Here’s how to pick the healthiest bread.

Updated
Health News
3 min read


Now you don’t need a PhD in nutrition to cut through the food label jargon. Consider this your bread guide 101. (Photo: Nikita Mishra/<b><i>The Quint</i></b>)

You follow the thumb rule: if its white don’t take a bite. But how do you pick between a baguette, bagel, bun, flat bread, or sandwich bread made in whole wheat, oatmeal, whole grain, multi-grain, rye, sesame, soy, with gluten or without gluten?

With an aisle full of options, how do you decide which bread is worthy of your bucks and nutrition?

Scroll down as we play Sherlock to decode various buzzwords about bread:

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‘Brown’ Doesn’t Mean Wholesome or Healthy

Especially if it has caramel in its label. (Photo: Nikita Mishra/<b><i>The Quint</i></b>)
Especially if it has caramel in its label. (Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

You don’t need a PhD in food labels to know this.

Behind the pretty packaging and clever sounding health labels, most brown breads are mostly dyed white breads.

Surprised?

Yes, manufacturers are actually taking white bread made of white flours, stripping them of their nutrients, adding chemicals to make it look gorgeously brown and crusty and dyeing it to make it look healthy.

So cut through these clever marketing tricks and look at the label.

The truth is in the label. The difference between refined flour and 100% whole wheat flour is that refined flour has the bran and the germ of the wheat kernel removed. Now these two parts are powerhouses of nutrients. The remaining white stuff, endosperm is what makes flour white and that is why it has to be ‘enriched’ with synthetic chemicals. (Photo: Nikita Mishra/<b><i>The Quint</i></b>)
The truth is in the label. The difference between refined flour and 100% whole wheat flour is that refined flour has the bran and the germ of the wheat kernel removed. Now these two parts are powerhouses of nutrients. The remaining white stuff, endosperm is what makes flour white and that is why it has to be ‘enriched’ with synthetic chemicals. (Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)
The first ingredient usually tells the story. If it reads, ‘wheat flour’, ‘enriched with wheat flours’, ‘bleached with flour’ or some such, then beware. These are just ugly refined flours, stripped of all the goodness of wheat, are bad for diabetics and can shoot up your bad cholesterol.

Multi-grain Is Not Necessarily Healthy or a Whole Wheat Product



Whole multi-grain, even if the bread is made from rice grains will give you the nutritious benefits of rice in its entirety - fiber, vitamins and natural carbs. (Photo: Nikita Mishra/<b><i>The Quint</i></b>)
Whole multi-grain, even if the bread is made from rice grains will give you the nutritious benefits of rice in its entirety - fiber, vitamins and natural carbs. (Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)
Multi-grain only means multiple grains have gone in the manufacturing. Rice is a grain, quinoa is a grain and grains are built of different edible parts. Unless the label says, whole multi-grain, it is just the processed, refined grain with no fibers which has been used. 
Kanchan Patwardhan, Nutritionist
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Don’t Be Fooled By These Terms



Also note that fewer ingredients means a healthier bread. If the label is full of preservatives, flavours or hard-to-pronounce items, they probably just are synthetics. Toss it right back on the shelf.<b> </b>(Photo: Nikita Mishra/<b><i>The Quint</i></b>)
Also note that fewer ingredients means a healthier bread. If the label is full of preservatives, flavours or hard-to-pronounce items, they probably just are synthetics. Toss it right back on the shelf. (Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

Whole Grain White - Whole grains might be the new fad but this label does not guarantee healthy. In fact, it is just white bread in disguise with a small percentage of wheat flour.

12 grain, 9 grain, 7 grain - Bullcr*p. All that it means is that 12, 9 or 7 grains have been sprinkled on top. There are no regulation for the amount of grains to be added for it to be a multi-grain bread.

Made/ Enriched With Whole Grain / Good Source of Whole Grain:- Sounds delightfully nutritious but it’s really just smoke and mirrors. Manufacturers use a majority of white flour and a portion of whole wheat or some other grain flour. Unless it clearly says 100% whole wheat, it is not worth choosing.

Added Wheat Flour: If that’s all that’s mentioned and the percentage of wheat is not specified then it’s usually 75% maida and 25% atta. It’s a dietary no-no.

Holy Grail Of Bread Shopping: ‘100% Whole’ Is the Key



<b> </b>(Photo: Nikita Mishra/<b><i>The Quint</i></b>)
(Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, a product can be called ‘whole’ if at least 51% of its structure and ingredients remain intact after milling.

So ignore the name/type/packaging of the bread and look for two things:

1) The stamp of ‘100% whole’ - Rye, barley, wheat, rice, sesame, oatmeal or any flavour of your choice. But ‘100% whole‘ will mean the goodness of fibers, vitamins, iron and magnesium is intact.

2) The ingredient ‘100% whole’ has to be the top ingredient in the label. Rule of thumb - the earlier an item comes on the label, the more of it is there in the food.

Your Takeaway: Fine print matters. So put on your glasses and read that reaallyyy tiny text which the company doesn’t want you to read!

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