How to Pick the Healthiest Bread

Bread is a wonderful thing….soft, slightly chewy, and oh-so-delicious! Gluten is not the enemy! While I do not want to devote this post to talking about gluten, I do would like to briefly address it.images Gluten is absolutely not the enemy! Gluten is a component of all breads and unless you have celiac disease, by no means should you be avoiding it. Bread, when consumed in the correct portion and the correct type can offer many wonderful benefits and can help fuel your body and give you a boost of quick energy. Your body, organs (THE BRAIN!!!), and every single cell relies on glucose, the structural component of the breakdown of carbohydrates for energy and proper functioning. This is why it is recommended by the DRI that 45-65% of your caloric intake to come from carbohydrates. Without carbohydrates you would get migraines, feel sluggish, experience blurry vision, and have some balance problems.

So let’s talk about choosing the best choice. Obviously whole grain is a million times better than white bread because of the fact that it contains an abundance of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are all present in the bran and germ of the wheat grain. Iron, magnesium, phosphorus, since, copper, manganese, and B vitamins are some of the many wonderful benefits of eating whole grains.

whole_grain_stamp.jpgWhen assuring you are picking a whole grain bread, it will often times have the whole grain stamp, meaning that it has been accredited by the whole grain council and meets certain recommendations (16 grams or more per serving).

 

WholeGrainKernel_WGC_0.jpgAnatomy of the whole grain:

Whole grains contain all of the components, including the bran, endosperm, and germ. All of these components aid in allowing whole grains to have the benefits they do in that they provide the vital vitamins, nutrients, fiber, and healthy fat. White bread is made of the same grain, but the industry implements a process where they strip the bran and germ and only keep the endosperm, thus resulting in the white color. During this process, the industry re-adds all the nutrients and vitamins that were lost. However, the benefits of eating whole grains with all the nutrients intact are much better since they are naturally present.

There are other key factors to look for when choosing bread:

Sodium: This is often times overlooked, but is incredibly important. When picking bread you want no more than 140mg per slice. Considering you typically make a sandwich using two slices and add various condiments and lunch meat, sodium content can really add up!

Fiber: This is important obviously because the importance of the benefits associated with it. Aiding in satiety, helping your digestion, and lowering your cholesterol are some of the benefits associated with fiber. In terms of bread, look for about 3-4 grams of fiber to really benefit.

Protein: This is often times overlooked, but whole grain bread is actually higher in protein than white bread! Protein is important for helping you stay and feel full, maintain the structure and function of your body, and is responsible for many more benefits. Look for about 4-5 grams per slice.

So the next time you are at the grocery store picking up a loaf of bread, turn the package around and glance at the nutrition panel for some of the key factors discussed above!

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How to Pick the Healthiest Nut Butter

1423755769193With all the different brands of nut butters out in the market, it can be incredibly difficult to try and choose a healthy one. Nut butter are a great source of fat and protein and are absolutely delicious and versatile. Peanut butter used to be the most common and only nut butter out in the market, until people with peanut allergies demanded other nut butters…and thankfully the industry responded! If you are a lifelong peanut butter fan (and I know I am!), I highly encourage you to venture out and try some other nut butters in the market as different nuts have different tastes and offer a different nutritional quality.0210p117-nut-butter-m

There are MANY brands and kinds out there, so it can absolutely be difficult and confusing to pick the best option. Here is my number one tip for choosing nut butters:

THERE SHOULD ONLY BE ONE OR TWO INGREDIENTS!!!!!!

….NOTHING MORE

….NOTHING LESS!!!! 😉

So for example, your peanut butter jar should only list one ingredient…PEANUTS..and maybe some salt. Almond butter should be almonds and perhaps some salt.

…etc with the other nut butters! 😉

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Let’s take a look at a common brand and type many people eat:

Jif or Skippy  peanut butter is a common household Screen shot 2011-11-14 at 2.50.56 PMname that many people have grown up eating. Sadly, if we take a look at the ingredients we can see that there are various speculating ingredients. The one that is flagging red flregularjifags at me is the fully hydrogenated vegetable oil. THIS IS BAD!! Basically *in a nut shell * 😉 what this is, is a chemical process done by the industry to turn an unsaturated (good) fat, in this case the vegetable oil, into a saturated fat by the addition of hydrogens to every single carbon essentially making what was once a liquid turn sold at room temperature in order to solidify the peanut butter at room temperature. This is all saturated fat that is artery clogging and in the long run can put you at risk to develop heart disease.

NO…NO..NO!!

Unfortunately, many brands label their nut butter as being “NATURAL.” However, “NATURAL” is an unregulated term and is often times used by food companies to lure people into thinking their product is healthy when it really is not.

Lets look at a common peanut butter that most people think is healthy:

Jif “NATURAL” peanut butter. This is probably somewhere in your cupboard, as I know I used51WPXRsGHtL.jpg to have countless jars of this sitting on my college desk for emergency snacking situations. However, if you turn the jar around and look at that ingredient list, here’s what you will find:
naturaljif

Definitely more than one ingredient…

in fact sugar is the second ingredient! *gasp!*

Palm oil…?! WHAT IS THAT!!!!

Let me start out by explaining that nuts already contain high levels of fat. So why would the food industry be adding more fat?! I’m wondering the same thing you are. Not to confuse you (or bore you!)  with too much chemistry, however it is important to understand that palm oil contains a significant amount of saturated fat (i.e the bad artery clogging) and it has the ability to stabilize and cause solidification to occur in the peanut butter. This is ultimately why the jar says, “no need to stir.” It’s because of the palm oil inhibits the natural oils in the peanuts to separate.  So pretty much the only difference between the “NATURAL” and the original Jif or skippy mentioned above is the fact that palm oil is naturally saturated while the vegetable oil had to go through the hydrogenation process.

Therefore,  this means that if you follow my rule about nut butter containing one ingredient, you would have to make sure you stir it each time before you use since separation will occur because of the lack of saturated fat.

Take a closer look at the label and ingredients before you purchase your nut butter and happy fueling! 🙂healthiest-peanut-butter-brands.jpg