From rye to sourdough, brown to wholegrain, dietitian Melissa Meier picks her healthiest bread varieties on your local supermarket shelf.
A world without bread is a world I don’t want to live in. If you’re in the same boat, you’ll be pleased to hear that bread (yes, the epitome of evil in the eyes of low-carb warriors) is actually a perfectly healthy component of any diet.
In fact, eating bread can help with anything from gut health to weight management and even disease protection – but it all comes down to the type of loaf you choose. So, to give you a helping hand with bagging the toast of the town, here’s everything you need to know about the bread aisle.
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Let’s start at the bottom of the barrel: white bread. Made from refined wheat flour, white bread is relatively low in fibre and micronutrients. It also has a high glycaemic index, meaning it will quickly spike and crash your blood sugar level. Essentially, this will leave you feeling sluggish and hungry soon after. If your family refuses to eat anything but white bread, I’d recommend a loaf with added fibre to help with the fullness factor.
Wonder White High Fibre Vitamins and Minerals ($3.40 at Woolworths)
With around one fifth of your daily fibre needs per serve, this loaf is pretty impressive for white bread. Plus, it comes with added b-vitamins, iron and zinc.
- 740kJ (177cal)
- 6g protein
- 31.6g carbs
- 5.6g fibre
- 300mg sodium
Brown or Wholemeal
Brown or wholemeal bread is a much healthier choice than white. That’s because wholemeal bread is made from wholegrain wheat, meaning it retains the fibre and micronutrients of the wholegrain. You see, all grains naturally have three layers:
- The outer bran which is fibre-rich
- The germ in the centre which is nutrient-dense
- The endosperm in the middle, which is mostly starch
Wholegrains (and therefore wholemeal bread) contain all three layers of the grain, whereas refined grains (i.e. white bread) contain just the endosperm.
Lawson’s Traditional Bread Stone Mill Wholemeal ($5.80 at Coles)
Particularly high in fibre for a wholemeal loaf, and relatively high in protein, too
- 995kJ (238cal)
- 9.6g protein
- 36.9g carbs
- 8.9g fibre
- 430mg sodium
Now this is where the magic’s at. Wholegrain bread has a wholemeal base and visible wholegrains (and often seeds) added throughout. In comparison to wholemeal bread which has a medium GI, wholegrain bread is low GI, so you’ll stay full and satisfied long after you’ve eaten it. This type of bread ticks all the nutrition boxes and is my go-to recommendation.
Burgen Wholemeal and Seeds ($5, at Woolworths)
Rich in fibre, this loaf also offers an impressive 11 grams of protein per serve.
- 765kJ (183cal)
- 11g protein
- 19.3g carbs
- 9.2g fibre
- 320mg iron
Another healthy choice in the bread department, sourdough is made from fermented dough and therefore offers gut-friendly probiotics. But the same rules still apply – you’re best off choosing a brown grainy loaf rather than the typical white stuff.
Alpine Breads Natural Sourdough Spelt & Sprouted Grains ($6.50, Alpine Breads)
Made with 10 per cent grains and seeds, this one is high in protein and fibre, and contains much less sodium per serve than many other brands.
- 790kJ (189cal)
- 9.5g protein
- 31.8g carbs
- 5.2g fibre
- 256mg sodium
Last but not least, rye bread is often considered healthier, but this isn’t always true. You might be surprised to learn that many commercial rye breads are relatively low in rye (less than 20 per cent rye, in fact), with the remaining product made up of wheat flour. If you’re after 100 per cent rye bread, you’re looking for pumpernickel bread. Nonetheless, darker rye breads are a source of wholegrains, while lighter breads have a higher percentage of wheat flour.
It is high in fibre and has a high percentage of rye.
Per 83g serve:
- 859kJ (206cal)
- 8.8g protein
- 29.4g carbs
- 6.4g fibre
- 388mg sodium
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.