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8 Whole Wheat Breads That Are Actually Unhealthy

Don't assume that bread is healthy just because it has 'whole wheat' slapped on the label.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino
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Whole wheat bread might sound healthy, but finding high-quality whole wheat bread can be a challenge. That's because many bread labels use terminologies that can make them sound more nutritious than they are.

Wheat breads are often a healthy alternative to white bread due to their fiber content, which adds to their health benefits—like better digestion and heart health. Made from flour that includes the entire grain kernel—bran, germ, and endosperm—whole wheat bread retains more fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Most consumers are looking for healthier choices when it comes to bread, so we decided to break down some unhealthy wheat bread options to be aware of.

We examined the nutrition labels of the most popular whole wheat breads and categorized them by their unhealthy options. Here's how we chose the unhealthiest whole wheat bread.

How We Chose the Unhealthiest Whole Wheat Breads

  • Ingredients: Many bread companies claim to be wheat or whole grain—which sounds healthy, but when you look deeper, you'll find that whole wheat might not be an ingredient or not one of the main ingredients.
  • Added salt and sugars: Breads with excessive amounts of added sugars can contribute to your daily added sugar allowance set by the Dietary Guidelines: 24 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men. Plus, breads with high sodium levels contribute to the recommended added sodium limit of 2,300 milligrams per day for most people.
  • Total fiber: The hallmark of wheat bread is the fiber content, and we picked choices with a lower total fiber count than we would expect in a whole-grain bread choice.

As a general rule, most wheat breads are going to be healthier than white bread or other alternatives. However, when trying to find the most nutritious whole wheat bread, you'll want to look for options other than the ones we've rounded up here. You'll want to look for whole wheat as the first ingredient and take a peep at the sugar and sodium content, too.

Let's dive into the top eight whole wheat breads that are unhealthy. And to make better choices, check out 9 Healthiest Whole Wheat Breads on Grocery Shelves.

Wonder Small 100% Whole Wheat

wonder whole wheat
Wonder Bread
Calories: 200 per 2 slices
Fat: 3.5 g (Saturated fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 310 mg
Carbs: 36 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 8 g

If you're looking for a whole wheat bread option, Wonder Bread's 100% Whole Wheat is better than the brand's white bread choices. However, you only get 2 grams of fiber per slice for your calories, less than you'd expect for a whole grain bread labeled 100% whole wheat. Each serving contains 310 milligrams of sodium and 3 grams of total sugar. You can find a higher fiber option on the grocery store shelves.

 9 Best Whole Grain Breads on Grocery Shelves, According to Dietitians

Sara Lee 100% Whole Wheat Bread

sara lee whole wheat
Sara Lee
Nutrition (Per 2 slices):
Calories: 130
Fat: 2 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 230 mg
Carbs: 23 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 2 g)
Protein: 6 g

Sara Lee 100% Whole Wheat Bread initially looks like a healthy choice, but its nutritional profile lacks fiber. While two slices only get you 120 calories, they contain 3 grams of fiber per serving or 1.5 grams per slice. Because this bread is low in calories and low in fiber, it may not be that filling, and you can find a heartier option on the market, especially when it comes to sourcing 100% whole wheat bread.

Pepperidge Farm 100% Whole Wheat

pepperidge-farm-farmhouse whole wheat
Pepperidge Farms
Nutrition (Per 1 slice):
Calories: 130
Fat: 2.5 g (Saturated fat: 0.5 g)
Sodium: 180 mg
Carbs: 23 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 5 g

We love that Pepperidge Farm 100% Whole Wheat bread contains 100% whole wheat and that the first ingredient is whole wheat flour. However, one serving is one slice of bread, which gives you 180 milligrams of sodium and 4 grams of sugar. Make a two-slice sandwich, and your intake will total 260 calories, 360 milligrams of sodium, and 8 grams of total sugar of bread alone. Despite being whole wheat, this bread may not be the best choice for those looking to maintain a low-calorie or low-added sugar diet.

 10 Store-Bought Breads That Are Surprisingly High in Sugar

Sara Lee White Made with Whole Wheat

sara lee delightful white
Sara Lee
Nutrition (Per 1 slice):
Calories: 45
Fat: 0.5 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 95 mg
Carbs: 9 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: <1 g)
Protein: 2 g

Sara Lee White Made With Whole Wheat may seem healthier due to its low calorie count of 45 calories per two slices, but it's a less nutritious choice than 100% whole wheat bread. The white and whole wheat flour blend reduces its overall nutritional value, offering only 3 grams of fiber. However, the sodium and added sugar content are low. This bread might be the right choice if you keep your calories or carbohydrates low.

Arnold 100% Whole Wheat

arnold whole wheat bread
Nutrition (Per 1 slice):
Calories: 110
Fat: 2 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 170 mg
Carbs: 21 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 2 g)
Protein: 4 g

Arnold 100% Whole Wheat bread presents a moderate option at first glance, with 70 calories per slice and 170 milligrams of sodium. It contains 21 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of sugar. While we can appreciate the fiber and lower sugar content, the calories and sodium can add up depending on how many slices you consume.

 10 Healthiest Sprouted Breads on Grocery Shelves, According to Dietitians

Oroweat 100% Whole Wheat

Oroweat 100% Whole Wheat
Nutrition (Per 1 slice):
Calories: 110
Fat: 2 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 180 mg
Carbs: 21 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 4 g

Oroweat 100% Whole Wheat bread has 110 calories per slice and 180 milligrams of sodium. Each slice includes 21 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of sugar. Made with a combination of wheat flour and bulgar, the bread's carbohydrate and salt content might be challenging for those managing blood sugar levels or sodium intake.

 Is Whole Wheat Bread Good for You? 8 Effects of Eating It

Pepperidge Farm's Light Style

Pepperidge Farm Light Style Soft Wheat Bread
Pepperidge Farm
Nutrition (Per 3 slices):
Calories: 130
Fat: 1 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 200 mg
Carbs: 27 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 7 g

Pepperidge Farm's Light Style bread may appear to be a lighter, healthier option, but its nutritional profile raises some questions. The sodium content is 200 milligrams, which can quickly add up when multiple servings are consumed. The serving size of three slices is odd. However, given the calories per serving, the 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein are impressive.

Wonder 100% Whole Wheat Texas

Wonder 100% Whole Wheat Texas
Wonder Bread
Nutrition (Per 2 slices):
Calories: 210
Fat: 3.5 g (Saturated fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 330 mg
Carbs: 38 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 9 g

Wonder 100% Whole Wheat Texas bread contains 210 calories per two slices and 330 milligrams of sodium. It has a relatively high carb content of 38 grams, including 5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of sugar, and provides 9 grams of protein, which we can appreciate for a balanced nutrition label. Despite the whole wheat label, it may not be the healthiest whole wheat choice on the market due to its calorie and sodium content.

Caroline Thomason, RD, LDN, CDCES
Caroline is a women's health Registered Dietitian and diabetes educator based in Northern Virginia. Read more about Caroline
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