Have you ever stood in the bread aisle and wondered which variety would be the best to buy? There are so many different options.

There is white bread, wheat bread, multigrain bread, bread with seeds and the list goes on and on. The price of breads vary just as much, so you want to make sure you are making the best decision for your dollars.

Nutritionally speaking look for breads that are whole grain, as they provide more vitamins, minerals and fiber to your diet. Whole grains are high in fiber, iron and B vitamins.

However, just looking at the name of a bread might not make it obvious which one is actually whole grain.

For example, most multigrain breads are not whole grain, they may contain whole grains but if a whole grain isn’t the first ingredient then it is not a good source. Some breads have color added to provide a darker color often associated with whole grains.

When it comes to the bread aisle always check the nutrition fact label to see what the first ingredient actually is before buying. Look for words like whole grain flour, whole oats, or whole grain rye to name a few.

There are three parts to a kernel of wheat, they are the bran, germ and endosperm. To be considered whole grain all three parts must be present.

Each part of the kernel provides different nutrients. The bran contains the fiber which aids in digestion and provides you that feelling of fullness from your food. The germ contains B vitamins, folate, iron and vitamin E. The endosperm portion of the kernel is where the majority of the carbohydrates are found.

Carbohydrates provide quick energy for our body. When grains are not whole grain that means that the bran and germ have been removed and only the endosperm remains.

Often enriched flour is used in breads so that some of the vitamins and minerals lost during the processing of grains have been added back, however not all that was lost is added back in. Many times fiber and iron are missing from enriched or white breads. That is why it is so important to try to eat whole grains.

Another way to get more whole grain bread is to make your own. Try playing around with adding some whole wheat flour to your favorite bread recipes. Try using half whole wheat and half all purpose flour to start. Usually a mixture of 50/50 leaves the bread tasting just like you’re used too.

If you want to try some new recipes, I have included recipes for a whole wheat quick bread that is very tasty and works great when you need something quick. If you want to try a recipe that tastes great and uses all whole wheat flour, try the Food Hero whole wheat blueberry muffins.

Whether making bread at home or deciphering which bread to buy at the grocery store, try looking to add whole grains to your diet. At the grocery store, look for labels with whole grain listed first. You don’t always have to buy the most expensive bread to get some great, nutrient-dense varieties.

Mandy Hatfield is the Nutrition Education Program Instructor for OSU Extension Service of Douglas County. Mandy can be reached by e-mail mandy.hatfield@oregonstate.edu or phone at 541-236-3017. All recipes courtesy of foodhero.org website.

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