Breads with healthy sounding names like “seven-grain” or “100% natural” are the best choices.
Just because the name of the bread on the package sounds super-healthy, it doesn’t mean the bread actually is. Oroweat’s seven-grain and 12-grain breads, for example, list “unbleached enriched flour” as their first ingredient. Nature’s Pride 100% Natural Honey Wheat bread, likewise, is mainly made with “wheat flour,” not whole wheat.
The best bread depends on your personal taste. Whole wheat bread and enriched white bread have similar nutritional
analyses. Bread is a good source of thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. However, whole wheat bread does provide
significantly more fiber and iron.
Read the bread label. I recommend a whole wheat bread with whole-wheat flour as the first ingredient and no white
flour added. You have to carefully read the label as wheat flour may be listed first. It is flour made from wheat
without the bran coating. Next, the label should list only the other ingredients in bread such as water, sugar,
shortening, salt and yeast.
As to the color of bread, you can turn bread a dark brown by adding molasses which increases the iron content (not
significant per slice though). The color does nothing to add fiber to your diet and I do encourage patients to increase
the fiber in their diet by eating whole wheat bread instead of white bread.
White flour is nutritionally similar to whole-wheat flour. Whole-wheat flour is slightly higher in calcium,
phosphorus and potassium, but white flour is slightly higher in riboflavin. It is a food myth that white flour causes
hyperactivity in children or that white flour is inferior to whole-wheat flour. The main difference between the two is
fiber and whole-wheat flour is much higher in fiber.
I know that whole wheat bread is better than white bread. What about cooked cereal. Isn’t it better than cold cereal?
It depends on which cold and which cooked cereal you are comparing. I recommend any cereal that is not sugarcoated
but is enriched with iron, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. These nutrients are usually lost during grain processing.
A quick trip down the cereal aisle will tell you there are a lot of cereals to choose from in today’s market. Here are
some suggested guidelines for choosing a cereal whether hot or cold. Look at the Nutrition Facts label on the cereal
box. Most cold cereal will have information about what carbohydrates can be found in one serving. Starch, fiber and
sugars may be listed. Four grams of any sugar is equal to one level teaspoon of sugar and eight grams is equal to two
teaspoons. I would suggest any cereal that has eight grams of sugars or less per serving, especially if the cereal has
fruit such as raisins or apples in it. Not all hot cereals have the sugar content listed on the package. Some of the newer
individually packaged instant cereals are very high in sugar. A guideline for any cereal that does not have the grams of
sugar listed is to look at the list of ingredients, which are listed in decreasing order. If sugar or sweetener like corn
syrup is one of the first three ingredients, don’t buy that cereal. Also, read the label for the word “sweetened” or “sugar
I will admit that a bowl of cooked cereal seems appealing when it is below zero outside. I cannot prove however, that
cooked cereal “sticks to the ribs” longer than cold cereal. We do know however, that high fiber foods do slow down
your stomach emptying, which may add to your feeling full longer. Oatmeal is one such high fiber cereal that may
delay your stomach emptying and give you the sensation of feeling full longer.
Every time you eat bread — be it a bagel, an English muffin, or part of a sandwich — you’ve got an opportunity to improve your diet. For most Americans, choosing whole-wheat bread products most of the time is the easiest way to eat more super-healthy whole grains. But when you’re standing in front of the bread array in the supermarket, reading the various label claims, just how do you know which is the best bread to buy?
The first ingredient listed on the ingredient label tells the story. If it’s “wheat flour” or “enriched bleached flour” (or similar), that tells you white flour was mostly used, not “whole-wheat flour.”