The Lowdown on Bread: Whole wheat, Whole grain, Sprouted grain, etc.
- White bread is made from flour containing only the central core of the grain (endosperm).
- Brown bread is made with endosperm and 10% bran. It can also refer to white bread with added colouring (often caramel colouring) to make it brown; this is commonly labeled in America as wheat bread (as opposed to whole wheat bread).
- Wholemeal bread contains the whole of the wheat grain (endosperm and bran). It is also referred to as "whole grain" or "whole wheat bread", especially in North America.
- Wheat germ bread has added wheat germ for flavoring.
- Whole grain bread can refer to the same as wholemeal bread, or to white bread with added whole grains to increase its fibre content, as in "60% whole grain bread".
- Roti is a whole-wheat-based bread eaten in South Asia. Chapatti is a larger variant of roti. Naan is a leavened equivalent to these.
- Granary bread is made from flaked wheat grains and white or brown flour. The standard malting process is modified to maximise the maltose or sugar content but minimise residual alpha amylase content. Other flavour components are imparted from partial fermentation due to the particular malting process used and to Maillard reactions on flaking and toasting.
- Rye bread is made with flour from rye grain of varying levels. It is higher in fiber than many common types of bread and is often darker in color and stronger in flavor. It is popular in Scandinavia, Germany, Finland, the Baltic States, and Russia.
- Unleavened bread or matzo, used for the Jewish feast of Passover, does not include yeast, so it does not rise.
- Sourdough bread is made with a starter.
- Flatbread is often simple, made with flour, water, and salt, and then formed into flattened dough; most are unleavened, made without yeast or sourdough culture, though some are made with yeast.
- Hempbread Hemp seeds do not mill into flour because of their high oil content (~30%). Hemp flour is the by-product after pressing the oil and milling the residue. Hemp flour doesn't rise, and is best mixed with other flours. A 3:1 ratio produces a hearty, heavy, nutritious loaf high in protein and essential fatty acids.
The more grains you have in your bread, the better the benefits. The Vegetarian Resource Group lists each grain by their calories and the amount of fiber, ribloflavin, vitamin B6, zinc, copper, and iron contained and awards a score. The grains were then ranked by nutritional value. Out of the 21 grains checked, amaranth was top with a score of 184, and corn grits last with a score of 12. Wheat berry came in at 14 with a score of 31. So if it's nutritional value you're looking for in your bread, choose the grains with the higher scores.
Sprouted grain bread has a few advantages over whole wheat bread. Whole wheat bread is made from whole wheat kernels ground into flour, while sprouted grain bread is made from kernels that are allowed to sprout before they're baked into bread. Many sprouted grain breads are made not only from wheat kernels but from a variety of grains and legumes, such as barley, oat, millet and even lentils. The diversity of grains in sprouted grain bread provides a larger array of amino acids than are found in whole wheat bread. According to the Whole Grains Council, sprouted grains are also easier to digest compared to other whole grains, and the sprouting process increases the bioavailability of certain vitamins and minerals in the bread.
When it comes to selecting a healthy bread at the grocery store, it's important to choose a product made from whole grains, whether you pick a sprouted grain or whole wheat bread. MayoClinic.com recommends choosing a bread that has "whole grains" listed among the first items in the ingredient list and also has at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving. If you prefer the taste and texture of white bread to wheat bread, keep in mind that while it looks and tastes similar to regular white bread, white whole wheat bread offers the same nutritional benefits as other whole grain breads. Also, note that sprouted grain breads are often free of preservatives and therefore need to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.