By now, you've likely come across your fair share of smack talk about bread: It causes brain fog! Will give you dementia! Makes you fat! (For the record: Jury's definitely still out on that last one.) At Well+Good's most recent TALKS event, panelist Siggi Hilmarsson, founder of Siggi's yogurt, pointed out that many breads sold in grocery stores are full of additives and sugar—the latter of which is often split up on the ingredients list in an effort to deceive consumers. It's disheartening, right? Especially when sometimes all you want is a freakin' sandwich.
It raises the question: If you are going to eat bread, what's the best kind to go for?
To find out, I called up fellow panelist and The Nutritious Life Studio CEO and co-founder Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN. Good news: Even this celebrity nutritionist and wellness world fave eats bread every now and then. "Personally, I always go for sprouted bread, like Ezekiel bread, because it's made with whole grains and it has zero sugar," she says. According to Glassman, sprouted breads are often made with sprouted whole grains or legumes, which up the protein count.
These two points, Glassman says, are key when choosing which bread toss in your cart. She says Hilmarsson is totally right—a lot of breads do have sugar and additives like hydrogenated oils in them. "You want to save your sugar for something like a chocolate chip cookie you've been craving or a piece of fruit, not for bread," she says.
As far as other ingredients to watch out for, she says to eyeball the sodium count; many store-bought sliced breads are full of it. (Pro tip: Aim for under 200 milligrams; bonus points if you keep it to under 100 milligrams.) "Another ingredient you see a lot is soybean flour or isolated soy proteins," Glassman says. "Too much soy in our diet is not good, especially processed soy, so that is definitely something to avoid with bread."
To her other point, going for a whole grain option is going to give you the most nutritional benefits. And the key is making sure the loaf is 100-percent whole grain—not just whole wheat bread. "Some brands say 'wheat flour.' That means nothing. All flour is wheat flour," Glassman says. Glassman is also a fan of sourdough. "It's made with no oils or sweeteners and could even have probiotic benefits because of the lactic acid and live yeast cultures it's made with," she says. (That's also why Michael Pollan is a fan.)
Her least favorite bread will come as a surprise to absolutely no one. "[White bread] really is the worst because it's just processed sugar," she says. "Traditional white bread is made with sugar, canola oil, and dry preserved yeast to leaven the dough."
It's pretty clear to see that not all bread is created equal, which is actually a good thing because it means you don't have to ban all of it to live your healthiest life. Stick to real ingredients and your body will recognize that what you're eating is the best thing since, well, you know.