I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy a delicious sandwich. I mean, come on, who doesn't love sliced deli meat layered between crisp veggies, a thick, rich spread and fresh baked bread!
I'm happy to say we've taken great strides as a society in moving past the Wonder Bread days into more heart-healthy options. Just think of the array of breads, wraps, sandwich thins, etc. that stare you down as you enter the bakery aisle in the market. Trust me, I know how overwhelming it can be trying to decide just which bread is the right one to choose.
Regardless of your bread style of choice, there are certain items it is important to look for on the nutrition facts panel and ingredients list when making your choice. Here's a look at my top 5 recommendations to use when choosing the right bread for you.
Look for 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat.
Whole grains come from a variety of complex carbohydrate sources that include the bran, germ and endosperm of the grain. When choosing 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat products, you are getting the most nutrition delivered to your body.
Check the ingredient label.
Choose products that have the least amount of ingredients possible. Avoid packages that contain added sugars such as high fructose corn syrup, molasses, cane sugar or evaporated cane juice. A little sugar is usually standard, but try to make sure this ingredient is listed towards the end of the list.
Watch the calories.
Breads and wraps can easily attribute in a significant amount of calories in your diet. Aim to get 100-140 calories in two slices of bread or 100-150 calories from your tortillas or wraps. Again, just be sure they are 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat!
Focus on fiber.
Strive to find a brand that has at least 3 grams of fiber per slice of bread or 5 grams of fiber per tortilla or wrap. It's possible, I promise, just be sure to turn that package around and read the label!
The power of protein.
Surprisingly, using 100% whole grain products is actually a great way to get some extra protein in your diet. Just be sure to pair with a complimentary protein, like a hummus spread, to receive 100% of your essential amino acids if you aren't a meat eater! Look for breads that have at least 3 grams of protein per slice of bread or 8 grams of protein per tortilla or wrap.
If you practice a low carbohydrate diet, you will probably nix the bread all together and use fresh romaine leaves as your "bread" of choice. Just be sure you are monitoring your carbohydrate intake because going cold turkey isn't a good thing for you either. Your body needs whole grains to help function properly, so trust me, you won't hear me say "hold the bread, please!
Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RD, is a San Diego based dietitian. She is owner of Elizabeth Shaw Consulting Services, in which she offers individual, corporate and food service consulting services. She an adjunct professor in Nutrition at San Diego Mesa Community College and is the Dining Dietitian for the University of California San Diego. Read her blog, Simple-Swaps, and connect with her on Facebook and Pinterest.