So Many Choices, So Little Time: How to Navigate the Bread Aisle


October 3, 2012 by thehealthyheartcenter

The bread aisle can be a confusing place.  With so many different types of flour, how are you supposed to make the best choice for your family?  The following is a description of popular bread flour choices that will help you make the best choice!

Whole grain

Contains all three parts of the grain seed: bran, endosperm, and germ.  To be considered a whole grain it must contain 100% of all three parts.  Whole grain is a broad category that has many different types of grains within the category, such as- barley, corn, oat, rice, wheat, and rye, to name a few.  Benefits of whole grains are reduced risk of stroke, type two diabetes, asthma, and blood pressure.  Consuming whole grains can also help with weight loss.  Whole grains are higher in fiber and naturally contain iron and many B vitamins.  The USDA recommends all Americans eat as least half of all grains as whole grains.

Whole wheat

Made from the red wheat strain.  The coloring of the bran gives wheat bread its overall darker color.  Make sure the bread you are purchasing uses the words “whole wheat” in its ingredients; this means it contains all three parts of the wheat seed.  Whole wheat is a type of whole grain just like a carrot is a type of vegetable.

Whole white wheat

Made from the white wheat, which is an albino strain of wheat.  The bran is not colored which make white wheat bread look and taste similar to the popular “fluffy white bread.”  White wheat bread is nutritionally the same as regular whole wheat as long as the ingredient list contains the words “whole white wheat.”  Again, this means the flour contains all three parts of the white wheat seed.

Whole Rye

Rye is a hardier grain that was long considered a weed because it thrives with minimal water.  Rye contains a specific type of fiber called arabinoxylan that promotes satiety or the feeling of being full after eating.  As long as the ingredient list contains the words “whole rye flour,” it will have all the same nutritional benefits of a whole grain.


White bread has been refined so the bran and germ are removed from the wheat seed.  During the refining process fiber, iron and B vitamins are also lost.  Most bread is enriched which means the iron and B vitamins are added back into the product.  Fiber is not usually added back.  Since white bread usually contains little fiber, is does not help you stay full and can also spike your blood sugar- causing a “crash” later in the day.  White bread is usually the worst choice for your family.


Multigrain means the flour contains multiple types of grain.  It does not necessarily mean it contains whole grains and therefor may not have the same nutrition benefits of whole grain bread.

Gluten free

Gluten is a protein found in wheat.  Some people have adverse effects to this protein.  Gluten free breads are made with wheat flour alternatives such as rice, buckwheat, chia, hemp, and potato flour.  You can find white or whole grain varieties of gluten free breads.

Bottom line: for the most nutritional benefits, choose bread that contains the word “whole” in its ingredients.  It can be wheat, white wheat, rye, and many more!

Daily Recommendation for Grains


Daily recommendation in ounce equivalents

2-3 years


4-8 years


9-13 years: girls


14-18 years: girls


9-13 years: boys


14-18 years: boys


*Ounce equivalent: 1 slice bread, 1 cup cereal, ½ cup rice or pasta




One thought on “So Many Choices, So Little Time: How to Navigate the Bread Aisle

  1. Monica casey says:

    Great article, clears up the many confusing labels.

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