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This story originally appeared on Realsimple.com by Betty Gold.
Fact: Carbs aren’t bad for you. There, I said it.
Carbohydrates are one of the main types of nutrients and act as a principal energy source in our bodies. They provide the body with glucose, which is converted by insulin into fuel used to support bodily functioning and physical activity.
Related: 6 Reasons You Should Be Eating Carbs
Carbs have gotten a bad rap in recent years, though, which is highly correlated with the upsurge in popularity of the ketogenic diet: a diet plan that emphasizes eating lots of high-fat foods and almost no carbohydrates.
But according to the U.S. News and World Report, a much smarter way to eat is to follow the Mediterranean diet. In fact, they named this regime (more like a lifestyle) the healthiest diet overall. The Mediterranean diet is characterized by consuming plenty of produce, fish, olive oil, and—drum roll, please—bread.
Of course, not all types of bread (and not all forms of carbs) are created equal. The healthiest breads are made from whole grains, meaning the kernels still contain the bran, germ, and endosperm. These components house most of the beneficial nutrients that we get from grains, like fiber, vitamin B, zinc, magnesium, iron, and copper. White bread and other loaves made from refined, highly processed grains are much lower in nutritional quality.
But under the whole grain umbrella, the specific style of bread that nutrition experts are flagging as being ahead of the rest nutrient-wise is sprouted grain. Sprouted grains are basically whole grains that have started to germinate, which makes nutrients in grains more readily available.
“The germination process has a direct impact on the nutritional attributes of the seed and grain, which means sprouted grain bread may have some unique benefits over traditional whole grain breads,” says Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN, the Plant-Powered Dietitian. “Germination increases the bioavailability of nutrients such as phosphorus, iron, zinc, calcium, manganese, potassium, magnesium, folic acid. It also increases the level of vitamins A, C and amino acids, fiber, and phenolic compounds. Basically, it makes the nutrients easier to digest,” she adds.
But before you run to the grocery store to stock up on sprouted grain bread, keep in mind that the term “sprouted grain” can be used as a marketing tool and isn’t regulated (plus it’s mega-trendy), so follow these key rules for finding an *actually* healthy loaf:
- The first ingredient should be a 100% whole-grain flour of any type, not “enriched wheat flour”
- At least 2 grams of fiber and 3 or more grams of protein per serving
- Less than 4 grams of sugar
- 0 grams saturated fat per serving
Still stumped? We’ve got you! These are a few of our favorite nutrient-rich sprouted grain bread breads you can buy.
- Angelic Bakehouse 7-Grain Sprouted Bread – So good you’ll be using it for sandwiches, garlic bread, and bread puddling alike. Angelic Bakehouse doesn’t limit their sprouted goodness just to bread, though: they’ve got sprouted whole grain wraps, crusts, crisps, and buns.
- Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Original Sprouted Bread – The hearty texture makes it perfect for avocado toast, plus it’s loaded with fiber- and nutrient-rich sprouted grains, lentils, and soybeans and has zero grams of sugar. Find it in the refrigerator or freezer section.
- Silver Hills 100% Sprouted Mack’s Flax Power Bread – This one’s got a delicious combination of ground and whole flax seeds in addition to sprouted whole grains, plus it has a whopping 5 grams of heart-healthy fiber per serving.
This article originally appeared on Realsimple.com