Taking a trip to the bread aisle at the grocery store can be anxiety-inducing. With so many options to choose from, how is one to know what the best bread is to buy? Better yet, what bread would be better for your body to feel healthy and energized? While it may seem counterintuitive (especially in a time where low-carb diets are trending pretty heavily) eating bread can actually do a lot for your body's overall health! It's all about choosing the right kinds, which is especially prevalent in a recent study published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The result? Refined grains (such as white bread) have been proven to be linked to a higher risk of death and cardiovascular disease.
Here's what you need to know about this study, and how you can navigate the bread aisle like a pro. And for even more healthy tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
What refined grains do to your body.
In this recently published study, the BMJ evaluated 148,858 participants in order to assess their intakes of refined grains versus whole grains. During the follow-up period of their study, they were able to conclude that the participants that ate almost seven daily servings of refined grains (around 350 grams a day) were at a "higher risk of total mortality and major cardiovascular disease events" compared to the other intake groups, all because of higher systolic blood pressure.
What's considered a refined grain? Unfortunately, that bag of soft, sliced white bread is in that category. White pasta, rice, and sugary cereals are also in this category. The term "refined grain" means that the carb is not considered a "whole grain" due to the process of extracting key grains from the flour such as bran, germ, and endosperm.
By taking out those grains, you also lower the total fiber count of the bread, which is key to note given that fiber is the best thing to eat for your body.
Grab whole grains instead!
Don't get us wrong—a slice of white bread or your favorite refined grains are certainly a delicious treat once in a blue moon. It's important to be inclusive with the foods you love to eat, especially because restrictive dieting has never worked in the long term.
However, making healthy swaps for those go-to items you love is a lot easier than you think. You can still enjoy your favorite meals—like toasty grilled sandwiches and pasta—by simply choosing whole-grain options instead.
For bread, look for a whole grain or sprouted bread to substitute for your go-to white bread. Some of the best options can include Dave's Killer Bread, Ezekiel 4:9 Bread, Angelic Bakehouse, Silver Hills, and more.
If you can't find any of these brands on shelves, an easy way to determine if that bread is a good option is by evaluating the fiber content. A high-fiber bread means the fiber from the wheat was not extracted in the bread-making process, meaning it still has those healthy whole grains in it. Look for 3 to 5 grams of fiber per slice for the best option.
Again, you'll be fine if you want to enjoy your favorite grilled cheese on your favorite white bread every-once-in-a-while. The study shows that the group that had a lower intake of refined grains saw a decreased risk of these conditions. The best thing you can do is opt for fiber-rich bread (or other whole-grain products) on a regular basis, and give yourself the freedom to enjoy those refined grains for special occasions—like eating out at your favorite restaurant!