Have you walked through the bread aisle lately? What used to be a few shelves of loaves is now a full-length aisle of cellophane-wrapped confusion. It used to be simple to bring home a loaf. Now it requires concentration, patience and reading glasses! With catch phrases like “cracked,” “stone-ground,” “fiber” and “whole grain,” even when you know a thing or two about nutrition, it’s hard to tell what is what. In fact some loaves with healthy-sounding names end up being nutritional disasters, while loaves with ho-hum names are terrific for you!
Whether you want to lose weight, eat healthy, or just avoid processed foods with extra-long ingredient lists, you should look for a slice that’s jam-packed with whole grains, fiber and flavor. To expedite your search, here’s what you need to know.
Know Your Kernel
Before it’s processed, a wheat kernel is a whole grain that contains all three, healthy parts of the kernel:
Bran makes up the outer layers of the grain. It contains B-vitamins, trace minerals and dietary fiber. It’s removed when wheat flour is processed (refined and/or bleached) into white flour.
Germ is the part of the plant that sprouts to generate a new plant. It has B-vitamins, trace minerals, and some protein. It’s also removed when wheat flour is refined to become white flour.
Endosperm is the inner part of the grain that contains protein and carbohydrates as well as small amounts of vitamins and minerals. This is all that’s left when flour is refined to become white flour.