There is something inherently comforting about bread. Whether it be the smell of toast wafting through the kitchen, preparing sandwiches for a big adventure, or dipping soft chunks into steaming soup, humans have been enjoying bread for a long, long time. However, with so many different varieties these days, it can be confusing to know the difference between all of the breads out there. So, to clear things up, we’ve done the research on the need-to-knows of white bread, multi-grain, whole grain, whole-wheat, sprouted grain, sourdough, and gluten-free –all delicious, but with differing nutritional values.
THE NEED-TO-KNOWS ON DIFFERENT TYPES OF BREAD
As a result of its poor nutritional index, white bread is often savoured for special occasions rather than as an everyday staple. It’s made by removing the wheat kernel germ and bran, then grinding up only the endosperm into the flour–basically stripping the bread of most of its nutrients. Of all the breads being discussed in this post, white bread is by far the least healthy option to choose from.
The definition of [multigrain bread](http://www.spud.ca/catalogue/catalogue.cfm?&op=S2&S=1&W=1&search=multigrain%20bread&S_CG=&S_OP=) products are probably the least well-known among bread lovers. Multigrain means that more than one grain was used in the making of the product, so perhaps there is both whole wheat flour, and a little barley flour in the ingredients list. There are no standardized regulations attached to the label ‘multigrain’, so something that is multigrain might still be processed, bleached, or refined in a way that removes its nutritional value. However, if you see ‘whole’ multigrain, then you can be confident that the nutrition is of the whole grain (bran, germ and endosperm) has been retained.
If nutritional value is your priority, making sure that [‘whole wheat’](http://www.spud.ca/catalogue/catalogue.cfm?&op=S2&S=1&W=1&search=whole%20wheat%20bread&S_CG=&S_OP=) is on the label will ensure that the product hasn’t been refined, so healthy components like endosperm and bran are left intact. Whole wheat bread is made by grinding wheat kernels into whole wheat flour. This process retains fiber, as well as the naturally occurring B vitamins, and trace metals like iron, zinc, and copper. Don’t be fooled into confusing whole wheat with 100% wheat, as this only means that the product is completely made of wheat, and not necessarily that this wheat hasn’t been processed.
Did you know that [sourdough bread](http://www.spud.ca/catalogue/catalogue.cfm?&op=S2&S=1&W=1&search=sprouted%20grain&S_CG=&S_OP=) actually contains the probiotic bacterial strain Lactobacillus? Yep, even though the baking of sourdough bread kills off most of the live bacteria, studies have shown that sourdough still contains the anti-inflammatory properties or other probiotic foods–however, not to the same extent that say, yogurt or kefir do–so keep eating your fermented food. The lactic acid in sourdough also lowers the bread’s glycemic index, preventing unhealthy spikes of insulin. Many favour this loaf as the most easily digestible, and even better–you can find whole grain sourdough loaves!
In [sprouted grain bread](http://www.spud.ca/catalogue/catalogue.cfm?&op=S2&S=1&W=1&search=sprouted%20grain&S_CG=&S_OP=), the wheat kernels have been sprouted, ground, and baked into bread. The process of sprouting allows all of the vital nutrients stored in whole grains to be more easily absorbed. This process beats the others in terms of retaining all of the nutrients, and results in a bread that contains more protein and less fat and carbohydrates than other breads.
However, while the nutritional disparities between refined (white bread), and unrefined (whole wheat, sprouted grain) breads are vast, the nutritional differences between whole wheat and sprouted grain are not nearly as significant. Choosing either one of these delicious options would be choosing an optimally healthy bread!
If you’re eating gluten-free bread, be a label reader. If you can, try to avoid long ingredient lists, additives, and low fiber contents. It can be tricky to find a gluten-free loaf with an equal nutritional index to a whole or sprouted grain bread. This is because gluten-free breads are often prepared with corn or rice starch–both of which have a high glycemic index and a low fiber content. These flours are also fairly dry, so the dough is typically mixed with various fats and oils in order to keep the loaf together and increase flavour. However, the different flours you’ll see gluten-free bread being made from, like oat and chickpea flour, have fairly good nutritional indexes. Others, like those which use tapioca flour, are pretty much made from pure starch.
People have been enjoying bread for centuries, but over the years it has developed a bit of an unfair reputation as an unhealthy food. The truth is, as long as you’re seeking out the right kind, and eating it as part of a balanced diet, it is definitely alright to keep enjoying your daily bread!