03 October 2008

Soaring Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup Content in Whole Wheat Bread

We all know that whole wheat bread is the way to go right? But wait, it’s not as simple as you think. Before you go just pulling any old whole wheat bread from your supermarket shelf, look at the label. You will notice on the ingredient list, as I have, that many of the well known name brands have sugar or high fructose corn syrup as the one of the top three ingredients on the list. In fact, I have found some brands which have either of these ingredients as the second on the ingredient list. Right after the flour to make the bread!

Manufacturers for some reason seem to feel that sweet and whole wheat should go together. I’m not certain as to the purpose. Perhaps it’s because sugar and especially high fructose corn syrup can improve the shelf life of the bread. Perhaps it’s to make the bread more palatable, since many people find the taste and texture of whole wheat to be bland. Perhaps the reason is to improve the moisture level of the whole wheat, since sugar retains water, and whole wheat can tend to be dry. And also sugar aids in activating the yeast used as a leavening agent in breads.

Whatever the reason, I still believe that having such a high percentage of sugar or high fructose corn syrup, both ingredients we should not be over consuming, is unnecessary. Often times these are in such high concentrations, that you taste the sweetness of the bread over the whole wheat itself.

Many brands also contain other, more natural sweeteners like molasses, honey, or cane juice. Some contain brown sugar as well. So I have to be honest with you; many whole wheat breads, even from the gourmet store, have some type of sweetener in them. Therefore, when choosing, I would select those with the more natural sweeteners as I mentioned earlier. I would also look to see where those sweeteners are on the list. Preferably, you want the sweetener to be towards the end of the ingredient list or for the very least, somewhere in the middle.

Other options are to become well acquainted with a local bakery where they do not use sugar as a main ingredient in their whole wheat breads; or if you have that ‘baker gene’, to bake your own bread.

Some good brands I have discovered are Vermont Bread Company Whole Wheat Bread and Trader Joe’s Soft Whole Wheat Bread.



It concerns me more now that my daughter is getting to the age where she can eat more of what we eat. I bake our bread now so that I know exactly what goes into it. I found it extremely easy. I think my favorite thing about it is that it's prompted me to bake other things myself. I do all of our snacks now as well, and I'm baking the cakes for my daughter's birthday.

Denise Clarke

This is one of the reasons I have been baking all of our bread ... I use a bread machine, so it really isn't a chore, but I know exactly what goes in it. I like to use just a little honey and it works great!


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