What is the healthiest type of bread?
Whole-wheat bread contains whole-grain flour, so it will give you the nutrients contained in the entire kernel, including a good amount of gut-healthy fiber, filling protein and energizing carbs.
Look for "whole-wheat flour" as the first ingredient on the label, says Theresa Gentile, a registered dietitian in New York City and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The color of the bread alone is not a reliable indicator of the amount of whole grains it contains, the USDA says.
That's one reason Susie encourages people to really study the nutrition label and ingredients list when choosing whole-wheat bread. "You need to look and see that the first ingredient (is) whole wheat flour," she says. "What you want to avoid, potentially, is just wheat flour, because (that is) basically white flour."
Some people prefer sprouted breads, which contain whole grains that have been allowed to germinate before getting turned into flour, says Caroline Susie, a registered dietitian based in Dallas, Texas.
These breads tend to have a similar high-fiber and -protein nutrient profile to whole-grain breads, but there's some evidence that the germination process increases the bioavailability of some of those nutrients, Susie says. "You're going to get more bang for your buck with certain vitamins and minerals," she says, particularly iron and B vitamins, like folate.
But that's more of a "nice to have" benefit in bread than an essential, Susie says. Sprouted bread can also contain more antioxidants, particularly the plant-based polyphenols, Gentile adds.
Some people may not enjoy the denser texture of sprouted bread, Susie says, adding that they can be better for toast than a sandwich.
You'll likely find different types of whole-grain bread with added seeds, which can bump up the nutrition content of those products even further.
"Seeds can be full of good fats," Susie says, and are another way to add fiber and protein. She particularly recommends looking for bread containing flaxseeds and chia seeds, which are packed with nutrients.
However, the seeds will change the texture of the bread, Susie notes.
And they can add extra calories, which may be something to keep in mind depending on your goals, Gentile explains. "It does bump up the calories for the bread, possibly significantly," she says.