Thursday, January 5, 2012

How to Shop for Whole Grain Breads (Whole Wheat Included)

As I discussed in a December post, whole grains are more nutritious than their refined, bran-less and germ-less versions (think brown rice vs. white rice). Knowing that, though, may not be enough to decipher the labeling on breads, which can be very confusing.

To start, know that the term "grain" is a catch-all that includes a multitude of different cereal grains, including wheat, corn, rye, oat, rice, barley and millet. All of these grains can be ground into flour and used for baking, with varying results.

Remember that wheat is just one type of grain, so multi-grain breads can include flour from wheat, corn, rye, oat, rice, etc. But "multi-grain" isn't necessarily the best option, as all of the different flours used in these breads can be from refined grains stripped of their bran and germ, rendering them nutrient-deficient.

Instead, we should be looking for whole grain breads, with the most common being whole wheat. However, know that whole grain breads can also include refined flours. For example, the ingredients of the organic whole wheat hamburger buns I buy include "organic whole wheat flour" and "organic wheat flour." ("Whole wheat flour" includes the bran, germ and endosperm while "wheat flour" includes just the starchy endosperm.)

The best option, if you can find it, are breads that are 100 percent whole grain. For these products, any flours used must be from whole grains and will be described as such in the ingredient list (i.e. "whole wheat flour," "whole rye flour," "whole oat flour").

Remember that "100 percent whole wheat" and "100 percent wheat" do not mean the same thing! The first phrase carries weight (and nutrition); the second is 100 percent marketing chicanery.


Paula Hong said...

That's helpful, thanks!

Anonymous said...

A dietician gave me this info about 18 months ago, and it changed my buying habits from well-intentioned to well-done. Once you have the information, you can cut through the hype and make quicker and better decisions. So, thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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Shivam said...

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