The Bread Of Life

BreadThe Bread of Life – Well at least that is the thought that many people have when it comes to bread. For generations, this has been a mainstay of the American diet whether in the form of biscuits, pancakes, popovers, sandwich bread, yeast rolls, sourdough, etc. But bread can be harmful to your health if it isn’t moderated.

To help with reaching your intake goal, take a minute to review the nutrient facts panel.  As a word of caution, it is critical that you look at the serving size first as that can be the most important piece of information. Occasionally, food manufacturers will show a serving size that is not what most people would expect. For example, an individual package of chips may show in the panel that it is actually 2 servings.

Now let’s look at the important nutrients for cardiovascular health, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and hypertension. Note the calorie level first since excess body weight is highly correlated to all of these disease states. If your daily goal is less than 2000 calories and this item has 500 calories, it is probably not for you. Calories matter and each serving of bread should be less than 125 to fit into your daily goal for caloric intake. Again, compare the serving size to the calories since some products actually have calories that exceed the 125 and are only one slice of bread. And that really does not work well for a sandwich!

Fiber & Whole Grain

Now, take note of the fiber and any whole grain claims. For a bread item to be worth its calories, it must be high in fiber which typically means little to no white breads. Fiber as a goal should be at least 4 gm per serving and more is better.

What about sodium and its impact on your health? As detailed in Sodium Is Not A Spice, everyone over 50 years old should aim for 1500 mg or less daily of sodium. And for those under 50 years old the number is 2300 mg of sodium. With either number, watching individual foods is critical. Aim for bread servings of 150 mg or less.

To The Grocery Store

What does that leave to eat in the bread category that can be bought from your grocery store?

For a nutritious breakfast that will leave you satisfied, try Thomas’ English Muffins Multi-Grain Light. This product has a serving size of 1 whole muffin at 100 calories, 8 g of fiber, 1g fat and 160 mg sodium. Add to this toasted muffin, 2 tbsp of low sodium peanut butter with sugar free preserves and breakfast is done. Another choice might be this muffin with a scrambled egg white and low fat Swiss cheese.

For lunch consider this idea for a sandwich. Arnold has a product known as Sandwich Thins Rolls Multi-Grain which again is nutrient dense in a serving size of 1 roll and has 100 calories, 5 g fiber, and 170 mg sodium. This roll could be used as a base for home-cooked salt-free turkey breast or chicken breast with tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, onions or any variety of vegetables for a nutrient dense lunch of whole grains, low fat protein and vegetables. And if you get tired of Sandwich Thins Rolls, try Sara Lee Delightful Wheat with a serving size of 2 slices with 90 calories, 160 mg sodium and 5 g fiber.

With all of these bread choices, you get great quantity of bread with lots of chew time while maintaining your goal of watching caloric intake, keeping fiber high and managing sodium closely.

Author: Carla Spencer

Carla Spencer is a Registered Dietitian and founder of 2 Your Health. Her extensive career working with individuals with health challenges led her to create this site dedicated to helping people enjoy their lives while working to prevent or minimize the impact of kidney disease.

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