With so many choices of bread on the supermarket shelves, it’s hard to know what is the best to choose. There are two things to consider when choosing a bread; the amount of nutrients in the bread, and the glycaemic index, or GI. In short, the GI relates to how fast the bread is broken down and whether it gives you sustained energy or not. Low GI is what you want to go for.
One key part of bread is whole grains (the whole wheat grain). Just like eating the peel on your fruits and vegetables is good for you, the same goes for eating whole grains. White bread is made from wheat grains that have important bits removed, including the ‘peel’, known as the wheat bran. The process of taking this away removes lots of nutrients, including fibre, vitamins and minerals, so white bread is generally the least valuable in terms of nutrition. It also has a higher GI.
Wholemeal bread is made from whole grains that have been finely ground. Because the outside of the wheat grain is included in the bread, it has more fibre, vitamins and minerals than white bread. Wholemeal bread has a higher GI that wholegrain breads though, due to the grinding process.
Multigrain bread is usually made from white bread flour, with some added whole grains. So you’re getting some of those nutritional benefits. Wholegrain bread however is made using a whole meal flour plus the added whole grains, packing a big nutrient punch including fibre, vitamins and minerals. It also has a low GI giving you longer lasting energy.
Sourdough bread is chewier and has a low GI because of the acidity produced by the starter used to make it. Wholegrain sourdough is the healthiest, most nutritious choice in this type of bread.
Gluten-free breads usually have a heavier, denser texture. Some have a lower fibre content than regular wheat bread, so buying ones with added seeds is a good idea. Unless you have a gluten intolerance there’s no additional health benefit with this bread though.