There are many different bread varieties on our supermarket shelves here in Australia, which can make it difficult and confusing to know which is the healthiest bread. Whole grain, whole meal, rye, multigrain, sourdough, Turkish bread, oat bread, brown bread, Lebanese bread – what are the differences and which one should you shop for the biggest health benefits?

Here we explain your healthy bread options to help take the guess work out of choosing the perfect loaf.

Is bread healthy?

We get this question regularly and our answer is always, YES (if you choose correctly). A high fibre, wholegrain-based bread contains many important nutrients such as B vitamins including folate, carbohydrates, protein, whole grains and fibre all of which are very beneficial for our general health and gut health.

However, there are some nutrient quantities we need to consider when choosing a healthy bread.

1. Whole grains

These are important for reducing the risk of some chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke as well as help to improve bowel health. Breads with at least 50% whole grains are a good option. Read everything you need to know about whole grains here.

2. Sodium

Some breads contain high quantities of sodium. The average Australian adult consumes double the recommended intake and high consumption is linked to high blood pressure and increases our risk of heart disease and stroke. Breads with less than 400-500mg per 100g are a good option.

3. Fibre

Health benefits of fibre include improved digestive health, improved blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels, help to keep you fuller for longer, reduce risks of diabetes, bowel cancers and heart disease. Breads with 6g or more per serve (2 slices) are a great choice.

What is the average nutritional value of bread?

Serving sizes vary in weight however 1 serve is generally 2 slices and is between 80-90g.

Energy: 700-950kJ

Protein: 7-11g

Fat: 1.5-6g

Carbohydrates: 20-40g

Fibre: 3-9g

Sodium: 250-380mg

What is the healthiest bread?

We have compiled a list of our favourite breads below, read on to see why we recommend them

1. Whole Grain Bread

What is it made from?

This bread is made from wholemeal flour and contains whole grains which means all three layers of the grain are intact.

Nutritional Information:

  • Energy: 700kJ – 900kJ
  • Protein: 8g – 9g
  • Fat: 3g – 5g
    Carbohydrates: 20-40g
    Fibre: 6g – 7g
  • Sodium: 250mg – 400mg

Why did it make the list?

Whole grain is our number one bread pick as it contains three different types of fibre; soluble, insoluble and resistant starch. These are great for digestive health as well as reducing the risk of other chronic diseases. It is also a good source of carbohydrates, protein and nutrients such as iron, selenium, magnesium and b vitamins. The addition of these grains also lowers the GI which means it will keep you fuller for longer and help stabilise blood sugars.

Cons?

May be higher calories/fat due to the grains – not a problem for generally healthy adults but may be something to consider if weight loss is your goal

Where can it be purchased?

All supermarkets.

Price?

$2.50 – $5.00

Brands we recommend?

Woolworths Country Loaf Whole Grain, Burgen Bread Whole Grain & Oats, Tip Top Wholemeal 9 Grains,

2. Whole Grain Sourdough

What is it made of?

Sourdough bread is made a little differently to the average bread, bakers use a fermentation method with a starter culture, flour and water.

Nutritional information:

  • Energy: 750kJ – 850kJ
  • Protein: 6g – 7g
  • Fat: 0.5g – 1.5g
    Carbohydrates: 30g – 35g
    Fibre: 5g – 6g
  • Sodium: 200mg – 450mg

Why did it make the list?

Sourdough bread is a fermented food which is great for digestive health and may be easier for some people to digest. Pair this with whole grains and your gut bugs will be stoked! Whole grain sourdough varieties are also higher in fibre and nutrients.

Cons?

Generally more expensive.

Where can it be purchased?

Whole grain varieties can be harder to find in the supermarket with Bill’s Organics the main brand available, other brands are available at bakeries.

Cost?

$6-$8

Brands we recommend?

Bill’s Organics Wholegrain Sourdough, Abbott’s Village Sourdough Rye.

3. Rye Bread

What is rye bread made of?

The rye grain is ground into a flour and used for this bread. Also comes in a whole grain option.

Nutritional information?:

  • Energy: 800kJ – 950kJ
  • Protein: 7g – 9g
  • Fat: 1g – 4.5g
    Carbohydrates: 30g – 40g
    Fibre: 5g – 10g
  • Sodium: 200mg – 400mg

Why did it make the list?

Rye bread is classified as a whole grain bread and is higher in fibre and nutrients than white bread. Opt for whole grain rye where possible as it contains more fibre and nutrients.

Cons?

Many dark rye varieties are made from wheat flour with added rye flour, these are lower in fibre and nutrients than whole grain rye bread.

Where can it be purchased?

All supermarkets.

Cost?

$3.50 – $5

Brands we recommend?

Burgen Traditional Rye Bread.

4. Wholemeal

What is wholemeal bread made from?

Wholemeal flour is made by taking a whole grain and grounding it down into a flour.

Nutritional information?

  • Energy: 700kJ – 850kJ
  • Protein: 7g – 8g
  • Fat: 1.5g – 2.5g
    Carbohydrates: 25g – 35g
    Fibre: 5g – 6.5g
  • Sodium: 250mg – 400mg

Why did it make the list?

Wholemeal bread contains more vitamins and is higher in fibre than white bread.

Cons?

Higher GI, lower fibre and lower nutrients than whole grain bread.

Where can it be purchased?

All supermarkets

Cost?

$1.60 – $5

Brands we recommend?

Burgen Wholemeal & Seeds, Woolworths Country Loaf Wholemeal, Tip Top 9 Grains Wholemeal, Coles Soft Wholemeal Sandwich Bread

5. Multi Grain

What is multi grain bread made of?

Multigrain bread is essentially white bread with added grains.

Nutritional information?

  • Energy: 750kJ – 900kJ
  • Protein: 7g – 10g
  • Fat: 3g – 5g
    Carbohydrates: 25g – 40g
    Fibre: 3g – 5g
  • Sodium: 250mg – 400mg

Why did it make the list?

Spelt bread can be consumed on a low FODMAP diet as it is low in wheat fructans.

Any cons to this bread?

Lower in nutrients and fibre than whole grain bread.

Where can it be purchased?

All supermarkets

Cost?

$1.60 – $4

Brands we recommend?

Tip Top 9 Grain Bread, Woolworths Multigrain Sandwich Bread, Coles High Fibre Multigrain Sandwich Bread

6. Spelt Bread

What is spelt bread made of?

Spelt is a whole grain, this bread is made by grounding down the spelt grain into a flour. Whole grain varieties use the entire grain which is higher in nutrients and fibre.

Nutritional information?

  • Energy: 700-1000kJ
  • Protein: 6-8g
  • Fat: 2g – 4g
    Carbohydrates: 30g – 40g
    Fibre: 6g – 8g
  • Sodium: 150mg – 480mg

Why did it make the list?

Spelt bread can be consumed on a low FODMAP diet as it is low in wheat fructans. Wheat fructans can sometime cause gastrointestinal symptoms in those with IBS such as bloating and discomfort. Therefore, some people may mistakenly contribute this to gluten. Swapping your bread to Spelt bread can help determine if you have a sensitivity to gluten or wheat fructans. The spelt grain is higher in nutrients such as b vitamins, fibre and protein then some wheat flours. Opt for a whole grain spelt bread if possible.

Any cons to this bread?

Less accessible than other breads in supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths and more expensive.

Where can it be purchased?

Woolworths, Bakeries & Health food stores

Cost?

$7-$9

Brands we recommend?

Bill’s Organics Spelt Sourdough.