Bread labels can be deceiving, but not if you know what to look for.
These 6 tips will help you get the freshest loaf on the shelf, and you’ll know exactly what’s in it.
1. Decode the color of the twist tie or plastic clip to get the freshest loaf.
The color tells you what day your bread was baked. It’s that simple. Here’s the decoder:
Color of twist tie/plastic clip:
Bread was baked on:
2. The colors of the twist tie/clip are in alphabetical order.
Can’t remember the color system? The colors ascend by order of the alphabet to match the order of freshness.
Sort the clip colors you see on the shelf by alphabetical order, and note the corresponding days of the week. (B)lue=Monday, (G)reen=Tuesday, etc.
Tip: Don’t see any colored tags? Check the sell-by date to find the freshest loaf.
3. Want real whole grains? Look at the first ingredient and ignore the rest.
If the package of a nicely browned loaf says "whole wheat," then it is, right? Wrong.
Check out the first ingredient in your bread. If "enriched flour" is listed first, it’s not whole wheat.
Wholegrain bread is naturally higher in fiber, protein, and other important nutrients. However, the FDA hasn’t started regulating bread labels to make it easy for consumers to know what they’re buying.
The result? There are a lot of perfectly legal tricks to make you think you’re buying something you’re not.
Here’s the trick: If you’re looking for wholegrain breads like wheat, rye, pumpernickel, or multigrain, the first ingredient should always include the words whole or sprouted.
4. Bread can be full of sodium! Look for bread with less than 200 mg sodium per serving.
Unless it’s an onion bagel, you wouldn’t even think of getting your daily sodium intake from your carbs.
Let’s say you’re making a sandwich and each slice has 400mg sodium. The bread alone will be 800mg sodium — that’s over ⅓ of your daily intake. And that doesn’t even count whatever’s between the slices!
5. If your bread doesn’t list at least 4g fiber per serving, you’re paying for air.
Fiber is one of the main benefits we get from eating bread.
Look for bread with at least 4g fiber per serving to get your money’s worth — which will be easy to spot if you’re following #4.
6. If a loaf sits on your counter for a week without molding, it’s laden with preservatives.
I used to get frustrated that my Trader Joe’s bread would go bad in a week. Little did I know that mold was telling me the bread had very few preservatives. And that’s a good thing.
Oh, and don’t shy away from bread sales. If you’re afraid of a fuzz infestation, keep your bread in the fridge, or just throw the extras in the freezer!