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Decoding bread labels

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Food shopping isn’t always as simple as filling your cart and checking out. Often you want to make sure you’re picking the healthiest options. But how do you navigate the endless barrage of labels even on something as simple as a loaf of bread?

In the average bread section, shoppers are faced with dozens of options: whole wheat, multigrain, organic, rich in fiber. But what does it all mean? Consumer Reports says it comes down to the flour.

Bread is made with flour, which is ground grains. The healthiest flour is 100 percent whole-grain flour. Shifting your diet toward more whole grains can protect you against chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer.

So when you’re shopping, look for the claim “100 percent whole grain” or “100 percent whole wheat.” That indicates the bread flour is made from the entire grain kernel, which means it contains all the healthy stuff like antioxidants, B vitamins, fiber, and other nutrients.

Both 100 percent whole grain and 100 percent whole wheat can be equally nutritious. Whole-grain bread can also include other types of grains, like trusty oats. You should be wary of claims on bread that say “multigrain” or “21 grains,” because it doesn’t necessarily mean that the main ingredient is a whole-grain flour. You should look at the ingredients list to make sure “whole grains” is at the top.

If bread has a seal that says “USDA Organic,” that means it was made with at least 95 percent organic ingredients and the grains were not grown with potentially harmful synthetic pesticides. Another word to pay attention to “fiber.” Look for a package that says “good source of fiber.” Along with keeping your digestive system in good working order, fiber can also make you feel fuller longer.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2019 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumerreports.org.

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