Navigating Your Way Through the Bread Aisle

Smiling bespectacled woman holding bread

The bread aisle is an area of the average grocery store that has significantly grown in recent years, with so many new additions to now consider. From added fibre to gluten-free, here are a few tips to help you to navigate your way around the bread aisle.

Whole Grain vs Refined
One of the biggest decisions that people usually make when it comes to bread is deciding between whole grain varieties or refined, white varieties. You are likely already aware of the fact that whole grain is much healthier, as this contains the outer bran layer of the grain, which is where the majority of the fibre can be found. White bread is created from a refined version of these grains, meaning that all that is left is the starch. Make sure that the bread that you buy actually states that it is whole what, whole rye, whole spelt or cracked wheat, because terms such as wheat flour, enriched wheat and unbleached wheat are simply other names for refined flour.

Added Fibre
While whole grain bread already contains much more fibre than refined white bread, many brands add in some extra fibre, and this is usually positive. They do this by adding ingredients such as flaxseed, oats, psyllium or wheat bran to their bread mix, resulting in much higher fibre levels per slice.

Different Types of Flour
While wheat may be the most popular flour used for bread, there are several other types of flour that you are likely to have noticed too. Rye tends to be the second-most popular, and is quite dense compared to wheat, but has its own unique flavor and aroma. Corn and oats are other options, as is buckwheat, which is not a traditional grain, but is actually from a plant that is related to sorrel and rhubarb.

Sliced ciabatta on a wooden board

Gluten-Free
Gluten-free products have been on the rise lately, and when it comes to gluten-free bread, these tend to be made from four main starches; potato flour, tapioca starch, cornstarch and rice flour. While these are a great way for those who have a gluten allergy or Celiac disease to enjoy bread, those who do not suffer from these conditions are best off avoiding gluten-free bread, as they have high glycemic indexes, which means that they end up significantly raising blood sugar levels.

Different Uses for Different Breads
One of the reasons why there is so much choice in the bread aisle is because each bread tends to be best used for a specific purpose. For those who are making simple sandwiches, whole wheat slices are often best, as their flavor is quite minimal, allowing your sandwich fillings to really shine. Traditional flatbreads, such as pita bread and naan, are unleavened, meaning that they do not rise, and are chewier and denser, making them perfect to be stuffed. There are also many specialty breads out there, made from everything from sourdough to pumpernickel to rye, and each of these will have quite a distinct flavor, so do best when paired with stronger, more intense, fillings.

The bread aisle can often be quite confusing, which is why it is always a good idea to educate yourself on bread before heading out to do some shopping. For those who would like even more guidance on choosing bread, try visiting your local bakery rather than the grocery store, as the bakers will be on hand to provide you with in-depth advice.

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