Certain types are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, while others are made from refined grains and offer little in terms of nutrition.
Naturally, you may wonder what kind of bread is healthiest.
Here are the 7 healthiest breads you can choose.
1. Sprouted Whole Grain
Sprouted bread is made from whole grains that have started to sprout from exposure to heat and moisture.
Sprouting has been shown to increase the amount and availability of certain nutrients (1).
One study found that pita bread made with 50% sprouted wheat flour had over 3 times as much folate, a vitamin critical for converting food into energy, than pita made without sprouted wheat flour (2).
What's more, this process breaks down some of the starch in grains and decreases carb content.
Therefore, sprouted grains do not increase blood sugar as much as other grains, making them a good choice for people with diabetes or reduced blood sugar control (5).
Plus, most sprouted breads are high in fiber and protein. As such, they're more filling than more refined breads (6).
- Calories: 80
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 0.5 grams
- Carbs: 15 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
Sprouting helps increase the amount and availability of certain nutrients. Breads made from sprouted whole grains are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and may have less of an impact on blood sugar than other breads.
Sourdough is made through a fermentation process that relies on naturally occurring yeast and bacteria to make the bread rise (8).
Fermentation helps reduce the number of phytates, also known as phytic acid, that bind to certain minerals and impair their absorption (9).
Sourdough may also be easier to digest than other breads, possibly due to its prebiotics, as well as the probiotics created during the fermentation process (8).
Probiotics are healthy bacteria found in your body and certain foods, whereas prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that feed these bacteria. Getting enough of each promotes good gut health and digestion (10).
Finally, sourdough bread is thought to have a low glycemic index (GI), a measure of the impact a food has on blood sugar (11).
One slice (47 grams) of whole-wheat sourdough gives (14):
- Calories: 120
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbs: 20 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
Sourdough bread is made through a fermentation process that boosts its digestibility, improves the availability of certain nutrients, and lowers its blood sugar effects.
3. 100% Whole Wheat
Whole grains keep the entire grain intact, including the germ, endosperm, and bran. The bran, which is the hard, outer layer, is high in fiber (15).
The bran and germ also contain protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds, while the endosperm is mostly starch (15).
That's why whole grains, including whole wheat, are higher in fiber and considered more nutritious than refined grains, which have been processed to remove the bran and germ.
However, it's important to note that many manufacturers label breads "whole wheat" so that they appear healthier, even when they mostly consist of refined flour.
Look for breads that have 100% whole-wheat or whole-grain flour listed as their first ingredient and do not sneak unnecessary ingredients, such as added sugars or vegetable oils.
One slice (46 grams) of whole-wheat bread contains (18):
- Calories: 110
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 0.5 grams
- Carbs: 23 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
Whole-wheat bread made from 100% whole-wheat flour is higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals than breads made from refined wheat.
4. Oat Bread
Oat bread is typically made from a combination of oats, whole-wheat flour, yeast, water, and salt.
Since oats are highly nutritious and linked to a number of health benefits, oat bread can be a healthy choice.
In particular, oats are high in fiber and beneficial nutrients, including magnesium, vitamin B1 (thiamine), iron, and zinc. The fiber in oats, known as beta-glucan, may help lower cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar, and decrease high blood pressure (19, 20, 21, 22).
A review of 28 studies found that eating 3 grams or more of oat beta-glucan per day significantly decreased LDL (bad) and total cholesterol levels compared to not eating oats (20).
The study also found that the cholesterol-lowering effects of beta-glucan in oats were greater in people with higher baseline cholesterol levels (20).
However, just because a bread has "oats" or "oatmeal" on its label doesn't mean that it's healthy. Some oat breads only have a small amount of oats and are mostly made of refined flours, added sugars, and oils.
To find a more nutritious oat bread, look for one that lists oats and whole-wheat flour as the first two ingredients.
One slice (48 grams) of whole-grain oat bread contains (21):
- Calories: 130
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fat: 1.5 grams
- Carbs: 23 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
Oat bread made from oats and whole-grain flour boasts the fiber beta-glucan, which may help lower cholesterol and has been linked to a number of health benefits.
5. Flax Bread
Flax bread, which is made primarily from whole-grain flours and flax seeds, is one of the healthiest breads you can eat.
This is because flax seeds are highly nutritious and offer a number of health benefits. Particularly, they are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in plant foods (23).
A large review of 27 studies found that a high intake of dietary ALA was associated with a lower risk of heart disease (24).
What's more, flax seeds boast compounds called lignans that can act as antioxidants in your body and may help protect against certain cancers (25).
In fact, one study in 6,000 postmenopausal women suggested that those who regularly ate flax seeds had an 18% lower chance of developing breast cancer compared to those who did not eat them (26).
Interestingly, those who ate flax bread were 23% less likely to get breast cancer than those who didn't eat it (26).
However, it's important to note that this study was observational. More research is needed to understand the connection between flax seeds and cancer risk.
Nevertheless, eating flax bread and other foods with flax seeds may have additional benefits, such as improved digestive health (27).
Be sure to look for flax breads made with minimal ingredients, such as whole-wheat and/or sprouted whole-grain flours, yeast, water, salt, and flax seeds.
One slice (34 grams) of Ezekiel Sprouted Whole-Grain Flax Bread contains (28):
- Calories: 80
- Protein: 5 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Carbs: 14 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
Flax bread contains plant-based omega-3 fatty acids that promote good heart health, as well as compounds called lignans that may help protect against certain cancers.
6. 100% Sprouted Rye Bread
Rye closely resembles wheat but is usually darker and denser.
Traditional rye bread is only made from rye flour and does not contain any wheat flour, whereas most modern rye breads are made from a combination of the two. Rye loaves also typically have caraway seeds baked into them.
One study in 12 healthy adults found that those who ate whole-grain rye bread released significantly less insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar, than those who ate white-wheat bread (30).
Rye's ability to lower your body's insulin response is likely due to its high soluble fiber content.
Soluble fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate that dissolves in water and becomes gel-like in your gut. Eating foods with soluble fiber helps slow your digestion of carbs, which decreases insulin release and reduces blood sugar spikes (33, 34, 35).
The healthiest rye breads are made from 100% whole-grain sprouted rye flour, in addition to other sprouted grain flours. Since sprouting increases grains' fiber content, sprouted rye is higher in fiber and healthier than non-sprouted rye (36, 37).
One slice (28 grams) of sprouted rye bread provides (38):
- Calories: 60
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Carbs: 12 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
Sprouted rye bread is high in soluble fiber, which helps slow your digestion of carbs and decrease your body's insulin response.
7. Healthy Gluten-Free Bread
Gluten-free breads are made without glutenous grains like wheat, rye, or barley.
They are safe options for people who need to avoid gluten, such as those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
While the exact ingredients in gluten-free loaves depend on the type, they are typically made from a mix of gluten-free flours, such as brown rice, almond, coconut, tapioca, potato, or corn flours.
Many people wrongly assume that gluten-free breads are healthier than those that contain gluten. However, most gluten-free varieties are made from refined flours and high in added sugars, as well as other unnecessary additives.
However, those made from almond or coconut flours, such as Barely Bread, tend to be lower in carbs and calories but higher in fiber and protein than loaves made from wheat or other grains (39).
The higher fiber and protein content in these products may help fill you up more than other breads while packing fewer calories and less starch (40).
One slice (36 grams) of Barely Bread 100% Grain-Free bread gives you (39):
- Calories: 90
- Protein: 3 grams
- Fat: 5 grams
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Fiber: 5 grams
Some gluten-free breads harbor refined flours that are high in starch and unhealthy sweeteners, so be sure to choose ones that have healthier ingredients, fewer carbs, and more fiber.
How to Choose a Healthy Bread
To choose a healthy bread, look for brands that have:
- 100% whole-grain or sprouted flours listed as the first ingredient, with limited other ingredients
- 3–5 grams of fiber and 3–6 grams of protein per slice
- No added sweeteners
One of the best ways to ensure that you're choosing a healthy bread is to make it yourself. This way, you can control the ingredients. Hundreds of recipes for homemade breads are available online to suit most every dietary need.
Keep in mind that while the breads on this list are healthier than other varieties, bread is generally not as nutritious as other whole foods.
Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds, as well as whole grains that have not been milled into flour, typically pack more fiber and beneficial nutrients than bread.
What's more, many breads are made with added sugars and vegetable oils high in omega-6 fats, such as soybean oil. Excess intake of these ingredients has been linked to chronic inflammation that may lead to illnesses, including heart disease (40, 41).
In addition, some people may need to reduce their carb intake and thus limit bread consumption, such as those with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, as well as anyone on a low-carb diet (42).
That said, bread can be enjoyed in moderation — as part of a balanced diet that includes a variety of other nutritious foods.
When choosing a healthy bread, look for ones with 100% whole-grain or sprouted flour and without added sugars and vegetable oils.
The Bottom Line
Some breads are healthier than others.
To choose a beneficial bread, look for varieties made from 100% whole-grain and/or sprouted-grain flours. Make sure your bread has no added sweeteners or vegetable oils.
A few good options include sourdough, rye, flax, and oat breads.
Whichever you choose, remember to eat bread in moderation as part of a balanced diet, alongside a variety of nutritious whole foods.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alexandra Rowles
Oregano is a fragrant herb that's best known as an ingredient in Italian food.
However, it can also be concentrated into an essential oil that's loaded with antioxidants and powerful compounds that have proven health benefits.
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By Emily Grubert
Natural gas is a versatile fossil fuel that accounts for about a third of U.S. energy use. Although it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Reducing emissions from the natural gas system is especially challenging because natural gas is used roughly equally for electricity, heating, and industrial applications.
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6bd9fda1316965a9ba24dd60fd9cc34d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3KaMnkmf0tc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
What RNG Is and Why it Matters<p>Most equipment that uses energy can only use a single kind of fuel, but the fuel might come from different resources. For example, you can't charge your computer with gasoline, but it can run on electricity generated from coal, natural gas or solar power.</p><p>Natural gas is almost pure methane, <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/" target="_blank">currently sourced</a> from raw, fossil natural gas produced from <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/where-our-natural-gas-comes-from.php" target="_blank">deposits deep underground</a>. But methane could come from renewable resources, too.</p><p><span></span>Two main methane sources could be used to make RNG. First is <a href="https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks" target="_blank">biogenic methane</a>, produced by bacteria that digest organic materials in manure, landfills and wastewater. Wastewater treatment plants, landfills and dairy farms have captured and used biogenic methane as an energy resource for <a href="http://emilygrubert.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/eia_860_2017_map.html" target="_blank">decades</a>, in a form usually called <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/biomass/landfill-gas-and-biogas.php" target="_blank">biogas</a>.</p><p>Some biogenic methane is generated naturally when organic materials break down without oxygen. Burning it for energy can be beneficial for the climate if doing so prevents methane from escaping to the atmosphere.</p>
Renewable Isn’t Always Sustainable<p>If RNG could be a renewable replacement for fossil natural gas, why not move ahead? Consumers have shown that they are <a href="https://www.nrel.gov/analysis/green-power.html" target="_blank">willing to buy renewable electricity</a>, so we might expect similar enthusiasm for RNG.</p><p>The key issue is that methane isn't just a fuel – it's also a <a href="https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/ghg_report/ghg_overview.php" target="_blank">potent greenhouse gas</a> that contributes to climate change. Any methane that is manufactured intentionally, whether from biogenic or other sources, will contribute to climate change if it enters the atmosphere.</p><p>And <a href="http://doi.org/10.1126/science.aar7204" target="_blank">releases</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2019.07.029" target="_blank">will happen</a>, from newly built production systems and <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-methane-emissions-matter-to-climate-change-5-questions-answered-122684" target="_blank">existing, leaky transportation and user infrastructure</a>. For example, the moment you smell gas before the pilot light on a stove lights the ring? That's methane leakage, and it contributes to climate change.</p><p>To be clear, RNG is almost certainly better for the climate than fossil natural gas because byproducts of burning RNG won't contribute to climate change. But doing somewhat better than existing systems is no longer enough to respond to the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2923" target="_blank">urgency</a> of climate change. The world's <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/" target="_blank">primary international body on climate change</a> suggests we need to decarbonize by 2030 to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.</p>
Scant Climate Benefits<p><a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab9335/meta" target="_blank">My recent research</a> suggests that for a system large enough to displace a lot of fossil natural gas, RNG is probably not as good for the climate as <a href="https://investor.southerncompany.com/information-for-investors/latest-news/latest-news-releases/press-release-details/2020/Southern-Company-Gas-grows-leadership-team-to-focus-on-climate-action-innovation-and-renewable-natural-gas-strategy/default.aspx" target="_blank">is publicly claimed</a>. Although RNG has lower climate impact than its fossil counterpart, likely high demand and methane leakage mean that it probably will contribute to climate change. In contrast, renewable sources such as wind and solar energy do not <a href="https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/carbon/" target="_blank">emit climate pollution directly</a>.</p><p>What's more, creating a large RNG system would require building mostly new production infrastructure, since RNG comes from different sources than fossil natural gas. Such investments are both long-term commitments and opportunity costs. They would devote money, political will and infrastructure investments to RNG instead of alternatives that could achieve a zero greenhouse gas emission goal.</p><p>When climate change first <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/24/us/global-warming-has-begun-expert-tells-senate.html" target="_blank">broke into the political conversation</a> in the late 1980s, investing in long-lived systems with low but non-zero greenhouse gas emissions was still compatible with aggressive climate goals. Now, zero greenhouse gas emissions is the target, and my research suggests that large deployments of RNG likely won't meet that goal.</p>
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By Charli Shield
When an elephant dies in the wild, it's not uncommon to later find its bones scattered throughout the surrounding landscape.
Elephant Burial Grounds<p>Highly social creatures that form deep familial bonds, elephants have long been observed gathering at the site where a peer or family member has died — often spending hours, even days, quietly investigating the bodies or the bones of other dead elephants.</p><p>Although the popular idea that dying elephants are instinctively drawn to special communal graves — so-called "elephant graveyards" — is a myth, their tendency to go out of their way to visit the bones and tusks of the deceased isn't unlike human rituals at graveyards, says animal psychologist Karen McComb.</p><p>"They spend a lot of time touching and smelling skulls and ivory, placing the soles of their feet gently on top of them, and also lifting them up with their trunks," McComb, who's been studying African elephants for 25 years in Kenya's Amboseli National Park, told DW.</p><p>The most striking part of watching an elephant experience loss, Poole recalls, is the quietude. She still remembers one of the first elephant deaths she witnessed; a mother who birthed a stillborn calf. That elephant stayed with its baby for two days, trying to lift it and defending it from vultures and hyenas.</p><p>"I was so struck by the expression on her face and her body. She looked so dejected. It was really like, 'Oh God, these animals grieve…'. It was just so different," Poole told DW. </p>
Witnessing Emotions in Animals<p>Not all scientists are comfortable concluding that elephants grieve. Among the more than 30 reports of elephant reactions to death that Wittemyer co-reviewed in <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10329-019-00766-5" target="_blank">a study published in November 2019</a> were accounts of "enormous variation and nuance" he says. "It can be incredibly involved and intricate for extended periods or can be relatively cursory checks."</p><p>In Wittemyer's own experience, it can be difficult not to attribute some kind of emotional experience to the more involved interactions between elephants and their dead.</p><p>He shares the story of an "extraordinary event" involving the death of a 55 year-old matriarch in Kenya in a protected area that happened to be near his place of work. She was visited by multiple unrelated families while she was dying, including another matriarch that exerted such enormous effort attempting to lift her to her feet that she broke her tusk, which Wittemyer says, is "like breaking a tooth." </p><p><span></span>"It was a remarkable example of this heightened emotional state, it was very clearly a very stressful interaction," he says.</p>
A Different Sensory World<p>One factor that limits our ability to fully grasp the way elephants process and respond to loss is our markedly different sensory experiences of the world.</p><p>An elephant's world is fundamentally olfactory — based on smell. Ours is visual. Previous <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25053675/" target="_blank">research</a> has shown elephants possess the most scent receptors of any mammal, and can <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17949977/" target="_blank">use smell</a> to discern the difference between different human tribes from the same local area.</p><p>That could explain why elephants exhibit such interest in sniffing the bones and tusks of others, as a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1617198/" target="_blank">2005 study</a> from McCombs highlighted. When presented with the skulls and ivory of long-dead elephants and those from other large herbivores, including rhino and buffalo, McCombs and her team found elephants approached and were specifically attracted to the remains of their own species. </p><p>Without access to the smells an elephant picks up on, Wittemyer says "an enormous amount of stuff" could be missed by humans when studying these behaviors.</p>
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