Which Sandwich Bread is Healthier
When we think of sandwiches, we often think about bread. While true, you can make breadless sandwiches (think of wraps), often it’s the bread that makes the sandwich. But what kind of bread is healthy? Not all breads are created equal. And it can be the bread that “makes or breaks” a sandwich in terms of nutritional value.
When we talk about bread, we need to first talk about grains. Wholegrains before they are refined and processed are a nutritional powerhouse. As a nutritional powerhouse,b they contain bran, germ and a starch (a part called the endosperm). Wholegrains are a valuable source of vitamins and minerals. They also contain protein and fats, albeit a small amount and are loaded with fiber. Wholegrains are a complex carbohydrate. This means when we eat them, they get released slowly by our body and give long lasting energy.
Look for breads that are made from flours which have NOT undergone a heavy refining process. Try and avoid breads where white flour is used or listed as the first ingredient. These flours only contain part of the grain, the starchy part. When this refining is done, the part of the grain which provides the nourishment and the long-lasting energy is removed. What’s left is a simple carbohydrate. This means our body uses the energy faster, so it doesn’t sustain us for as long. It means it is less healthy.
Look too at the color of the bread. How brown is it? As a general rule, the more white a bread is, the more processed it is, and the less likely it is to have nutritional value. But be cautious here too. Bread can look brown because more sugar could have been used in baking it.
Here’s a quick summary of 5 common breads used for sandwiches and how they differ:
White bread, without a doubt, is least nutritious because pretty much most of the goodness is stripped out.
Wholegrain/Whole wheat bread is still made on refined flour but has had some of the fiber (bran) added back in.
Multi-grain, look closely at this bread’s ingredients for the type of flour used. Many are just refined flour with some extra grains and seeds added back in.
Wholegrain breads use the whole grain, so you’re consuming all 3 parts of the grain – the bran, germ and the starch/endosperm. Everything mother nature intended.
Sourdough is considered better for our health because it’s made from a starter culture which has been fermented. This culture is used instead of yeast, and the culture makes the bread more readily digestible. But make sure it starts with wholegrain flour.
So, if you want to determine if a bread is healthy for you, look at the ingredients list:
You want the first ingredient to be a wholegrain. Look at the fiber content, each slice should have more than 2g of fiber. (and while we mention fiber, look at the label…if “inulin” or “polydextrose” are present, you want to know that these are two additives that artificially boost fiber. I’d avoid that loaf if possible.)
Aside from fresh, what’s your favorite bread for sandwiches and why? Tell us in the comments section.