A few months ago when I heard our local dietitian Jen speak at our school (her presentation was so excellent it changed the course of my parenting) she gave some incredible tips on how to choose healthy brown bread. She tossed 4 loaves of bread into the crowd of parents and asked us to pick which we thought would be healthy. Some of them looked the equivalent of white bread and some had titles like ‘7 grain’, etc. We all selected the healthiest looking bread, but of course the titles were deceptive. Isn’t it incredible to think that certain brands of brown bread are nothing more than white bread with ‘molasses’ listed as an ingredient because that is the ingredient that actually ‘dyes’ the bread? You assume that whole wheat is taking care of darkening the color of bread, but in actual fact, you cannot tell by the color of bread or by the name if it’s a nutritious choice.
According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture):
There are actually two types of of grain products available: whole grains and refined grains. The difference between the two is that whole grains contain the entire grain kernel (bran, germ, and endosperm). Refined grains have been processed and no longer contain the bran and germ. This may improve the shelf life of products, but it removes fiber, iron and vitamin B. ** Good note – when some of the iron and certain B vitamins are added back after processing refined grains, this means they’re ‘enriched’. Fiber is not added back to enriched grains so the term ‘enriched grains’ is the equivalent to white flour and is a good ingredient to avoid when reading your labels for selecting healthy brown bread.
So go to your kitchen, grab your loaf of brown bread and check the ingredients – what is the very first ingredient listed? The first ingredient on my D’Italiano brown bread package is Whole Wheat Flour. This is a good start. I know that the entire grain kernel’s been used for my bread. Another good choice would be sprouted grains – these are whole grain kernels that have been sprouted instead of ground into flour. Foods labeled with the words “multi-grain,” “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “cracked wheat,” “seven-grain,” or “bran” are not necessarily whole-grain products.
The Health Canada web site had a great visual example of nutrition labelling and why looking at % Daily Value is important. Next I looked at the number of grams of fibre in my loaf. Make sure you read if the nutrition facts are for 1 or 2 slices of bread and look at % Daily Value….when comparing two nutritional fact tables compare the % Daily Value to determine which product has the most fiber. My loaf has 4 g of fiber per 2 slices of bread and my % Daily Value is 16%. I need to compare these values with some more serious bread choices, but the fact my kids eat this bread no problem might outweigh my search for a bread that is a little more healthy if it’s going to be hard to encourage them to eat it.
So how much fiber should children eat? The formula to find out what the fiber recommendation for children ages three to 18 is the child’s age plus five. For example, a five-year-old child would need about 10 grams of fiber, 5+5=10. This formula allows for the increased need for fiber as the child grows. Fiber is found in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Awesome tip I just read…did you know that 1/2 cup of blackberries contains 4.5 g of fiber and 1/2 cup of raspberries contains 9.2 g of fiber!!! Check out this article to find out the fiber content of common foods. This information applies to all grain products, eg rice, pasta, cereal, etc.