Best Store-Bought Breads

A round up of best breads, including allergen-friendly options

Bread

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While many of us have sandwich goals that include daily loaves of crusty, whole grain bread from a local bakery or homespun versions from our own kitchen—the craziness of daily life likely doesn’t allow for the time commitment. Whole grain, gluten-free, or even grain-free varieties of bread are now widely available, making shopping for bread even more confusing. So when you do hit up grocery store shelves for bread, here are some pro tips on what ingredients and brands you should look for.

What to Look for When Shopping

The massive amount of options in the bread aisle and freezer section can be downright overwhelming. Registered dietitian Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area gives three solid tips for how to start evaluating and comparing store-bought bread products. It all comes down to smart label reading.

First off, read the ingredient list. “You want to make sure you’re buying a bread with whole grains, and the first ingredient should ideally be a flour containing the word ‘whole.’" says Gorin. "This could be whole-wheat flour, whole oat flour, or whole-grain flour. Occasionally, the first ingredient will be water and the second ingredient will be that whole-grain flour—and that’s absolutely OK. Having these whole grains high up in the ingredients list shows that the bread offers good-for-your-health whole grains.”

It’s also important to target specific nutrients. You want breads that are nutrient dense (a.k.a. filled with nutrients). Gorin’s next tip targets the nutrients that will keep you feeling full for the long haul. “Aim for fiber and protein. Next, look at the nutritional panel to choose a bread that’s a good source of fiber. So that’s a bread with at least 3 grams of fiber per slice. You’ll also want protein in your bread, so look for one with at least 4 grams per slice. The protein in bread typically comes from good-for-you ingredients such as eggs, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.”

The last piece of information to consider is the sugar content. Bread gets a bad rep for containing sugar but anyone who bakes knows that yeast-leavened bread needs a little sweetness to activate and get that yeast going. Gorin suggests giving that sugar count an upper limit and to be on the lookout for all types of added sugars. Look at the nutritional panel for a bread with 3 grams or less of sugar per slice. In the ingredient list, sugar may also be listed as honey, corn syrup, or cane juice.”

Bread Calories, Nutrition Facts, and Health Benefits

Brands to Watch

So what brands offer the best taste and nutrition? Our store-bought bread superlatives honor breads of all shapes and sizes with allergen-friendly options included.

Best Bagels – Dave's Killer Bread

Store-bought bagels may seem like a recipe for disappointment but a berry-filled BOOMIN Berry Bagel from Dave’s Killer Bread might change your mind. These bagels feature whole grains and antioxidant-rich berries (cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, and acai). The berries allow for some natural sweetness, plus there are an uber-impressive 11 grams of protein per serving. If you are a fan of these bagels, this company also makes a nutrient-rich white bread you can feel good about eating.

Best Grain Free – Barely Bread

Made with almond, sweet potato and coconut flours, plus some nuts, egg whites, and even some applesauce. Barely Bread's style of bread contains no grains but does have 5 grams of fiber and only 90 calories per slice. This paleo-friendly option is a stellar choice for avocado toast, croutons, and even a good old PB and J.

Best Gluten Free – Udi's Gluten Free

Udi’s Omega Flax and Fiber steps up the nutrients and fiber without a speck of wheat or gluten. Two small slices have only 150 calories, making for sensibly sized sandwiches.

Best Multigrain – Milton's Craft Bakers 

Made with basic, simple and whole grain ingredients, kids will especially love this everyday staple from Milton's Craft Bakers. A perfect bread for toast with jam, egg sandwiches, and grilled cheese. 

Best Sprouted Grain – Food For Life

The old reliable of the store-bought bread world still comes out on top. Ezekiel 49 Sprouted Whole Grain Bread has been around for a while but it's easy to see why. With a completely decipherable ingredient list and no added sugar in sight, this combo of sprouted wheat, millet, soybeans, millet, lentils, spelt, and barley contains all nine essential amino acids for protein building. For best results, toast lightly before serving.

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