Consumer Reports: Decoding bread labels

Food shopping isn't always easy - even shopping for a healthy loaf of bread can be confusing. How do you navigate the endless barrage of labels on a simple loaf of bread? Consumer Reports explains.

In the average bread aisle, shoppers are faced with dozens of options: whole wheat, multi-grain, organic, breads that are rich in fiber....

But what does it all mean? Consumer Reports says it comes down to the flour.

"All bread is made with flour, which is ground down grain. The healthiest flour is 100 percent whole grain flour. Shifting your diet towards more whole grains can protect against chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer," said Amy Keating, Consumer Reports Nutritionist.

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So, when you're shopping, look for the claim "100-percent Whole Grains or 100-percent Whole Wheat" - that indicates the bread flour is made from the entire grain kernel, which means it contains all the healthy stuff like antioxidants, B vitamins, fiber and other nutrients. Both 100-percent Whole Grain and 100-percent Whole Wheat can be equally nutritious.

Whole-grain bread can also include other types of grains, like trusty oats.

"You should be wary of claims on bread like multigrain or 21 grains, it doesn't necessarily mean that the main ingredient is a whole-grain flour. So, you should flip over that product and look at the ingredient listing, to make sure whole grains is at the top of the ingredient list," said Keating.

If bread has a seal that says "USDA Organic", that means it was made with at least 95-percent organic ingredients and the grains were not grown with potentially harmful synthetic pesticides.

Another word to pay attention to here is "Fiber" - look for a package that says "Good Source of Fiber." It keeps your digestive system in good working order, and can keep you feeling fuller longer.
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