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Flour power: a guide to buying bread.

Ah, September. Your kids show off their spiffy new lunch boxes while you scramble to think of what to pack in them. Office brown-baggers face the same dilemma year-round.

Sandwiches are the universal answer. Don't believe us? The average American ate almost 54 pounds of bread in 1995. Granted, that's far below the 160+ pound the average European eats, but still quite a hunk of dough.

Of course, not all breads are created equal.

Some are made from 100 percent whole grains, with all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals intact. They're the ones that may help cut your risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

The rest are all or largely refined white flour -- which has been stripped of most of its nutrients.

That includes rye bread, pumper-nickel, oatmeal, raisin, French, Italian, honey wheat, wheat, crushed or cracked wheat, multigrain, sunflower, olive-you name it. (You wouldn't know that from looking at our chart, though, which is heavy on whole -- or mostly whole -- grain breads.)

Don't get us wrong. Refined flour breads aren't bad for you. They're low in fat, have no cholesterol, and supply some fiber, iron, and B-vitamins. But staff of life they ain't, despite their names.

Take Wonder Fat Free Multi-Grain bread. "Wonder 1-Grain" (refined white flour) is more like it. There's more yeast than any of the other grains. And Pepperidge Farm Light Style 7 Grain has more corn syrup than six of its seven grains. the seventh? You guessed it.

Refined white flour is also the main grain in Arnold Bran'nola Nutty Grains, Oroweat Light 9 Grain, Pepperidge Farm Hearty Crunchy Oat, Roman Meal 12 Grain, and dozens of other nutritious-sounding breads.

The Whole Truth

Why does whole grain matter?

If a bread doesn't have whole wheat, oats, or some other whole grain as the first ingredient, much of its vitamin-and-mineral-rich germ and bran have been milled away, along with most of its fiber.

"Enriched" flour, which is what most breads are made from, is far from whole. The baker has added back three of the B-vitamins and the iron that were lost when the wheat was refined.

Some companies that make "light" breads toss in highly processed fiber to boost the fiber numbers and cut the calories. But nothing replaces the lost vitamin E, B-6, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium, copper, pantothenic acid, and phytochemicals.

(Starting next January, though, all enriched breads will be fortified with the B-vitamin folic acid, which is also lost during milling. That should reduce the risk of babies' being born with neural tube birth defects like spina bifida. Many brands, including Arnold, Brownberry, Oroweat, Pepperidge Farm, and Wonder, are starting to add folic acid to their breads.)

Shopping for Grain

How can you tell if you're getting whole wheat bread? Look at the ingredients. "Whole wheat flour" should be the only flour listed. Not "wheat flour," "unbleached wheat flour," or "unbleached enriched wheat flour." Those are just sneaky ways of saying "refined white flour."

Too busy to squint at the tiny print? Look at the name. Any bread, roll, or bun with "whole wheat" as part of its name must be made with only whole wheat flour.

Breads with "Stone Ground Wheat," "Cracked Wheat," "Crushed Wheat," or "Wheat Berry" in their names may or may not be whole grain. Check the ingredients.

If you're a fan of multi grain breads, look for whole wheat flour or some other whole grain as the first or second flour listed.

Original Bran'nola, for example, has more refined white flour than any other grain. But just barely, thanks to all of its whole grain. Bran'nola is sold under the Arnold label in the East, as Brownberry in the Midwest, and as Oroweat in the West. Refined flour is also the first ingredient in Brownberry Natural Whole Bran. But the bread is almost half whole wheat and wheat bran.

A few caveats:

* Don't be fooled by high-fiber "light" breads. They're all or mostly refined white flour. Yet two slices of some -- Arnold Bakery Light Italian or Wonder Light Wheat, for example -- contain five to six grams of fiber ... more than two slices of most 100% whole wheat breads. What gives?

The "light" makers have probably added highly processed cottonseed, oat, or soy fiber. That means the breads may help prevent constipation, but they don't supply the nutrients and phytochemicals that come with the whole grain.

"Light" breads have fewer calories (and less sodium) than regular breads, at least in part, because they're sliced thinner. (And the labels can subtract the calories in the added fiber, because it passes through the body unabsorbed.)

* Check the serving size. What's a serving of bread? For most people, it's two slices. Yet many labels give calories, sodium, fiber, and other nutrition information for one slice. That's fine, as long as you double the numbers before you make your sandwich. That's what we've done in our chart.

* Small Brands. Our chart lists mostly major brands available in large supermarkets. Many delicious whole grain breads that are sold in natural food stores would probably qualify for Best Bites. That includes breads from Alvarado St. Bakery, The Baker, Food for Life, French Meadow, Natural Ovens, Nature's Path, and Shiloh Farms.

If your favorite sandwich-maker isn't in the chart, use our Best Bite and Honorable Mention criteria to see how it stacks up.

RELATED ARTICLE: Loaves at First Bite

"Best Bites" contain whole wheat or another whole grain flour as the first ingredient They also have no more than 350 milligrams of sodium in two slices.

"Honorable Mentions" can have refined flour as the first ingredient, as long as whole wheat or another whole grain is the second ingredient (other than water or milk). Or they can be whole-grain-as-first-ingredient breads with up to 400 mg of sodium.

Within each category, breads are listed from most fiber to least. The weight in ounces) of two slices is in parentheses following each name.
Bread (weight of 2 slices in ounces)

100% Whole Wheat Calories Sodium (mg) Fiber (g)

* Rubschlager 100% Stone
 Ground
 Honey Whole Wheat (2) 140 270 6
/ Nature's Cupboard Natural
 Stone
 Ground Whole Wheat (2.5) 160 360 6
/ Roman Meal 100% Whole
 Wheat (3) 180 400 6
 Wonder Good Hearth
 Stoneground 100%
 Whole Wheat (3) 160 440 6
 Home Pride Good Hearth
 Stone Ground 100%
 Whole Wheat (3) 180 500 6
* Oroweat Light 100% Whole
 Wheat (1.5) 80 230 5
* Arnold Stoneground 100%
 Whole Wheat (2) 120 230 4
* Schmidt's Old Tyme 100%
 Whole Wheat (2) 120 260 4
* Mrs. Wright's 100% Whole
 Wheat (2) 120 280 4
* Grant's Farm 100% Whole
 Wheat (2) 140 300 4
* Pepperidge Farm Natural
 Whole Grain
 100% Stoneground Whole
 Wheat (2.5) 180 320 4
/ Brownberry 100% Whole
 Wheat (2.5) 180 360 4
/ Arnold 100% Whole
 Wheat (2.5) 160 380 4
/ Wonder Stoneground 100%
 Whole Wheat (2.5) 160 380 4
/ Oroweat 100%. Whole
 Wheat (2.5) 180 400 4
* EarthGrains 100%. Whole
 Wheat (1.5) 90 240 3
* Wonder 100% Whole
 Wheat (1.5) 110 280 3
* Pepperidge Farm 100%
 Whole Wheat
 Thin Sliced (2) 120 240 2

Wheat
 Wonder Light Wheat (1.5) 80 230 6
* Brownberry Bran'nola
 Hearty Wheat (2.5) 180 270 6
 Arnold Bakery Light
 Italian (1.5) 80 150 5
/ Brownberry Natural Whole
 Bran (2) 120 280 4
/ Good Hearth or Grant's
 Farm Stone
 Ground Wheat(1) (2) 130 300 4
* Oroweat Original Honey
 Wheat Berry (2.5) 180 340 4
/ Rubschlager Stone-ground
 Honey Wheat (2.5) 180 360 4
 Oroweat Honey Wheat
 Berry (2.5) 200 400 4
 Pepperidge Farm Hearty
 Honey
 Wheatberry (2.5) 200 400 4
 Brownberry Natural
 Wheat (2.5) 180 480 4
* Pepperidge Farm Very Thin
 Sliced Wheat (1) 70 150 3
/ Pepperidge Farm Light
 Style Wheat (1.5) 90 190 3
 Pepperidge Farm Raisin
 Cinnamon Swirl (2) 160 210 2
/ Mrs. Wright's Roundtop
 Crushed Wheat (2) 120 240 2
 Roman Meal Sandwich (1.5) 120 240 2
 Roman Meal 16 oz. Round
 Top (2) 120 250 2
/ Mrs. Wright's Thin Sliced
 Sandwich
 Crushed Wheat (2) 120 260 2
 Wonder Family Wheat
 Sandwich (1.5) 120 260 2
/ Good Hearth Honey Wheat
 Berry (2) 120 270 2
/ Home Pride Butter Top
 Cracked Wheat (2) 160 280 2
 Brownberry Soft
 Wheat (2.5) 160 300 2
 Home Pride Butter Top
 Wheat (2) 140 320 2
* Arnold Country Wheat (2.5) 180 340 2
/ Oroweat Cracked
 Wheat (2.5) 200 340 2
 Roman Meal Honey Wheat
 Berry (2.5) 180 380 2
 French or Italian,
 generic (1.5) 120 270 1
 Wonder White (2) 140 300 0

Mixed Grain

/ Arnold or Brownberry
 Bran'nola Original (2.5) 180 250 6
* Rubschlager European Style
 Whole Grain (2) 140 270 6
/ Arnold Bran'nola 12
 Grain (2.5) 180 270 6
 Oroweat Light 9
 Grain (1.5) 80 230 5
* Rubschlager Sunflower
 Multi-Grain (2) 140 240 4
* Pepperidge Farm Natural
 Whole Grain
 Crunchy Grains (2.5) 180 260 4
/ Oroweat Bran'nola
 Original (2.5) 180 300 4
* Nature's Cupboard Natural
 100 grain (2.5) 160 340 4
* Pepperidge Farm Natural
 Whole
 Grain Nine Grain (2.5) 180 340 4
 Pepperidge Farm 7 Grain
 Hearty (2.5) 200 360 4
 Roman Meal 12 Grain (2.5) 180 380 4
 Pepperidge Farm Light
 Grain (1.5) 90 210 3
/ Brownberry Natural 12
 Grain (1.5) 110 190 2
/ Home Pride Butter Top 7
 Grain (2) 120 260 2
/ Good Hearth Multi-Grain (2) 140 280 2
* Brownberry Health Nut (2) 140 300 2
 Wonder Fat Free
 Multi-Grain (2) 140 320 2
/ Nature's Cupboard Hearty
 Nut Grain (2.5) 200 340 2

Pumpernickel & Rye
 Dimpflmeier 100% Rye
 with Whole Grain (3) 210 280 6
/ Dimpflmeier Whole Grain
 Rye (3) 160 360 6
/ Rubschlager Rye-Ola
 Sunflower (3) 220 380 6
/ Dimpflmeier Delicatessen
 Rye Pumpernickel (3) 160 400 6
/ Rubschlager Rye-Ola
 Pumpernickel (3) 200 400 6
/ Rubschlager Rye-Ola Rye (3) 200 400 6
* Rubschlager Danish Style
 Pumpernickel (2) 140 270 4
* Rubschlager Westphalian
 Style Pumpernickel (2) 140 270 4
 Beefsteak Hearty Rye (2) 140 340 2
 Beefsteak Pumpernickel (2) 140 360 2
 Arnold Real Jewish Rye
 Without Seeds (2.5) 160 420 2
 Pepperidge Farm Seeded
 Jewish Rye (2.5) 160 420 2
 Pepperidge Farm Classic
 Dark Pump (2.5) 160 460 2

Oat

/ Arnold or Brownberry
 Bran'nola
 Country Oat (2.5) 180 230 6
/ Oroweat Light Country
 Oat (1.5) 80 240 5
/ Pepperidge Farm Light
 Style Oatmeal (1.5) 90 200 4
 Pepperidge Farm Hearty
 Crunchy Oat (3) 200 360 4
/ Brownberry Natural
 Oatmeal (2) 140 270 2
/ Arnold, Brownberry, or
 Oroweat Oatmeal (2.5) 190 350 2




* = Best Bite. / = Honorable Mention. (1) = Average of the items listed.

Information obtained from manufacturers and USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp).

The use of information from this article for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited without written permission from CSPI.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Center for Science in the Public Interest
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:includes nutritional chart
Author:Collins, Geneva
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Date:Sep 1, 1997
Words:1811
Previous Article:Iron-poor women & kids.
Next Article:Pain in the glass.
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