20 Best & Worst Store-Bought Breads For Every Health Goal
We're going to let you in on a diet secret few people know: You don't have to give up bread to lose your belly fat!
Although it appears that when people boot bread from their pantry, they see weight-loss results. However, choosing the right bread that's jam-packed with waist-whittling whole grains, fiber, and protein, can actually help you reach your goals faster.
You see, bread can be made with just two ingredients: water and flour. Store-bought bread, on the other hand, can be made from more than twenty. (And that's excluding toppings like seeds and grains.) Among these twenty-odd ingredients? Additives like calcium propionate, monoglycerides, DATEM, sodium stearoyl lactylate, and high fructose corn syrup. It's not just you—they don't sound too appetizing to us, either.
So how does bread find a role in a healthy trim-down plan? Stick with our nutrient-dense, whole-grain-filled, fiber-rich, and energy-boosting picks, and you'll hit your health goals in no time.
Best Whole Grain Bread
Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Bread
Nature's Own Honey Wheat Bread
"First off, when you're reading the ingredient list, you should be looking for the words 'whole grain,' which mean that the grain is still intact and hasn't been processed and essentially re-fortified," says Jessica Crandall Snyder, a Denver-based RD and Certified Diabetes Educator. The very first ingredient on this Ezekiel loaf checks off that box, which also means it contains more fiber and offers more health benefits than bread made with processed "wheat flour." What kind of benefits are we talking here? Whole grains have been found to reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes and even assist in weight management and weight loss. An added benefit of Ezekiel, specifically, is that the grains are sprouted. This method increases levels of micronutrients and increases the bioavailability of those nutrients (meaning you'll get more of them!). (Read more about it in our report about sprouted foods.) This is why Ezekiel earns the title of best whole grain bread.
On the other hand, Nature's Own is only partially made with whole wheat flour, which means it can be more similar to a highly-processed white bread. Additionally, Nature's Own, as do many bread brands, extends their bread's shelf life by filling it up with preservatives and makes it taste smoother with mono- and diglycerides. These man-made additives likely contain the same artery-clogging trans fats that the FDA banned from our food back in 2015.
Best for Protein
Eureka! Organic Grainiac
Nature's Own Life: Wheat+Protein
You don't need to add isolated soy protein, whey, and "protein concentrate" to up your bread's protein count like Nature's Own does. In fact, all you need to do is add wholesome ingredients like flaxseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. By doing this, Eureka! creates a high-fiber, high-protein slice that will do wonders for your belly. Not only are these seeds high in muscle-building, calorie-blasting protein, but they're also rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids that fend off inflammation and protect your heart. "You need Omega-3s in order for improving brain and memory function and decreasing the risk of heart disease," says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RDN. "The catch is that your body does not make these fatty acids on its own so you have to get them from your diet."
Best for White Bread
Dave's Killer Bread, Organic White Bread Done Right
Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Hearty White
You may have grown up eating white bread, but it's time to move on from your Wonder Bread days. The reason: Wonder Bread and Pepperidge Farm's Farmhouse White are made with simple-sugar-heavy flour that's devoid of all the benefits of whole wheat: fiber, micronutrients, and energizing B vitamins. Not only are you missing out on key metabolism-regulating nutrients, but you're also flooding your body with simple sugars that will only provide a short spurt of energy rather than keep you satiated for hours. Thankfully, Dave's Killer Bread White Bread Done Right has fixed this problem. By using a blend of both wheat flour and whole-wheat flour, the bread appears lighter, but manages to keep the sugar content low and fiber content high.
Best for Gluten-Free
Rudi's Gluten-Free Multigrain Bread
Glutino Gluten-Free Multigrain Bread
If you don't have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, you're better off with the high-fiber, nutrient-dense whole-grain bread. That said, if you do want to go gluten-free, stick with Rudi's over Glutino. Rudi's is lower in calories, sodium, carbs, and sugar while being higher where it matters: fiber.
Best for Sandwich Thins
Ezekiel Whole Grain Pocket Bread
Pepperidge Farm Deli Flats, Soft 100% Whole Wheat
We love that these sandwich thins are small and perfectly portioned for a weight-loss-controlled sandwich, but keep an eye out for ingredients. We docked Pepperidge Farm's offering for containing the artificial sweetener sucralose. That ingredient is known to impede your gut's ability to fend off weight-gain-inducing inflammation. Ezekiel's pita pockets boast a whopping seven grams of protein, 100-percent whole wheat flour, and even manages to sneak in carrots!
Best for Cinnamon Raisin
Ezekial 4:9 Cinnamon Raisin Sprouted Whole Grain Bread
Thomas' Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread
We don't know about you, but we think there's something extra special about a slice of freshly-toasted cinnamon raisin bread. With half the sodium and more fiber and protein, opting for the Ezekiel Sprouted Whole Grain option is an obvious choice. Either way, if you're looking to keep this brand of bread in your weight-loss diet, be sure to keep it to a once-in-a-while treat and pair it with some natural peanut butter for some added healthy fats and protein to counteract its high sugar content.
Best for Oatmeal
Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain Oatmeal
Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Oatmeal
First off, don't be fooled into thinking this bread is the best option just because it reminds you of fiber-rich oats. Worse still, is that you shouldn't assume all oatmeal loaves are equal. Even within brands, the nutrition can differ. When it comes to Pepperidge Farm, we recommend going with the "Whole Grain" style over the "Farmhouse." That's because the Farmhouse-style is not only packed with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and preservatives, but it's also lower in protein and higher in calories and fat than the Whole Grain version.
Best "Light" Bread
Dave's Killer Bread Thin-Sliced Organic 21 Whole Grains and Seeds
Sara Lee Delightful 100% Whole Wheat Bread Made with Honey
You don't have to grab a "Light"-marketed bread for a light option. Look for words like "thin-sliced" and check out the serving size of the slice. Some bread comes in smaller loaves, where two slices are equal to 56 grams, whereas a single slice in a different loaf is the same weight. And don't rely on "light" to steer you (excuse us) to the light. Examine ingredient lists and keep high standards. Sara Lee might be lower in sugar and calories than Dave's, but it contains zero-calorie sweeteners that could throw off your brain's sugar calibration, fake fibers (like wood-pulp-derived cellulose fiber), preservatives, and trans fat derivatives. Dave's is higher in sugar, but it's completely balanced by an equivalent amount of fiber (which will slow your body's digestion of the sugar) and contains 21 different grains and seeds full of energizing B-vitamins that will boost your weight loss progress.
Best For Fiber
Nature's Own Double Fiber Wheat
Arnold Whole Grains: Double Fiber
If you're looking for extra fiber, your best bet is to go with a seeded bread. That being said, there are a couple options out there that pump up the fiber without making you feel like you're eating bird food. In that case, we recommend Nature's Own over Arnold. Nature's Own is made with a prebiotic fiber called inulin, which can boost gut health, whereas Arnold's fiber is cellulose: a wood-pulp derived fiber that's only benefit is bulking up stool.
Best For Deli Meat Sandwiches
Ezekiel 4:9 Low Sodium Sprouted Whole Grain Bread
Sara Lee Italian Bread
"What's the connection with deli meats?" You may ask. It's that deli meats are notoriously high in sodium (because it's salt that cures and preserves the meat), so if you want to avoid a bloated belly, you'll want to eat that ham sammie on some low-sodium bread. We like Ezekiel's option rather than Sara Lee's—which is actually one of the highest-sodium slices on the market.