Finding the “best breads” was not an easy task. We do not buy sandwich bread so I had no idea what I was getting into when I stepped into the aisles at my local supermarkets. There is so much junk filling the shelves, it’s disgusting. Breads full of high fructose corn syrup, enriched flours, chemicals such as azodicarbonamide, caramel color, and the list goes on…and on. You would never know it from the fronts of these breads where the marketing teams behind these companies find any buzz word possible to stamp on there to sell the product.
How about we compare buying bread to buying a house. Let’s say you are browsing homes online, and you find a beautiful picture and it describes what you want perfectly. Then when you go to see it, the inside is full of cobwebs and mice, wallpaper on every wall that hasn’t been changed since the 70′s, and it has no plumbing. That’s not exactly the perfect picture you were reading about. Thankfully before you buy a house, you and a professional do an inspection. So please start doing the same with your food! We can’t leave it up to ‘professional inspectors’, aka the FDA, to do it for us!
I want to help you understand what you are paying for, and help you pick the right one. There are a couple things to point out about conventional breads at the supermarket:
- Almost, if not, all breads have corn or soy in them. Therefore, conventional breads likely contain GMO’s since up to 90% of soy and 80% of corn is genetically engineered.
- Most breads, other than 100% whole wheat, use enriched flour. When the flour is processed, they remove the bran and the germ, which is where all the nutrients are located. The manufacturers then attempt to add back the nutrients or “enrich” the flour, but your body does not process the flour the same.
A few things to look for, and avoid, when reading the labels of breads:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup – all sugars should be limited in our diets, and high fructose corn syrup is no exception. There is an on-going debate whether high fructose corn syrup is causing the obesity epidemic. Princeton proved it may be the cause during a recent study. Read more about the findings here.
- Caramel Color – There are four types of caramel coloring that can be added to food. Two of the four are made with ammonia, and The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has asked the FDA to ban them. The term ‘caramel color’ is very misleading when it’s actually ammonia, not caramel at all! I avoid caramel coloring whenever I see it.
- Calcium Propionate – good luck finding many breads without this! It is a preservative used in many breads but has been associated with stomach ulcers, behavioral changes, and headaches. Here is what I read on Livestrong about calcium propionate: ”A study in the “Journal of Paediatric Child Health” in 2002 reported that although calcium propionate may have little to no side effects on the average person, chronic exposure, especially in children, might induce a myriad of behavioral changes. A controlled group of children fed a strict diet without any food additives was compared to a group that was given traditional bread each day. The clinical trial revealed that “irritability, restlessness, inattention and sleep disturbance in some children may be caused by a preservative in healthy foods consumed daily.” These behavioral changes appear to be reversible when the preservative is removed from the child’s diet.”
- Azodicarbonamide – a bleaching agent that has been banned in Europe and Australia because of a possible link to asthma and allergic reactions. Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, and I’m sure many other chains use this in their dough. And just like calcium propionate, this was in a large majority of breads I looked at in the store.
- Sodium - there is a lot of sodium in bread. Some breads have 10% of the recommended daily amount per slice!
- Ezekiel Bread (GMO-free) – this bread is organic, so free from GMO’s and additives, and the best option at the supermarket. You can find this in most supermarkets in the freezer section. You can also find Ezekiel bread online but it’s only available in bulk, so make sure you like it before you order it!
- Alvarado Street Bakery breads (GMO-free) – an organic company you can find in several supermarkets and even costco. You can also buy their breads online if they are not available in your area, but you have to order 6 items.
- Udi’s bread and bagels - you can find Udi’s in some supermarkets and it’s available online. They carry a large line of gluten-free products.
- Rudi’s Organic Bakery (GMO-free) – carries both wheat bread and gluten-free bread.
- EarthGrains 12 Grain bread – this bread does not have any preservatives, or chemicals listed above and is available nationwide.
- Sara Lee Hearty & Delicious 12 Grain bread – this bread is basically identical to the Earth Grains bread. Almost all Sara Lee breads contain high fructose corn syrup, and other additives, so do not assume all Sara Lee breads are good!
- Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Bagels – this was a good option for bagels. It’s high in fiber, and protein, but also high in sodium.