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Best and Worst Breads for Diabetes

breads for diabetes

Many people wouldn’t think of going a day or even a meal without bread, the staff of life and a common comfort food. Yet for individuals who have diabetes, there are good and not so good foods, and eating bread can be in the latter category.


Many of the breads on the market—ones people use to make sandwiches, dunk in olive oil, slather with butter, or enjoy as toast—can significantly elevate blood sugar levels. Therefore for millions of individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, bread—which is high in carbohydrates and a high glycemic food--can be the enemy.

However, it is possible to love the enemy and to consume it safely, if you know how to find the best and worst breads for diabetes. The secret is to identify which ingredients present in bread or that you add to bread (if you make your own) can reduce the product’s glycemic index and thus have less effect on your blood sugar.

Best and worst bread ingredients for diabetes
Whether you are shopping for bread or making your own, the worst bread ingredient you can choose is white flour. Whole-wheat pastry flour is a better choice, but there are even better ones.

For example, breads that contain chia seeds, wheat bran, oats, barley, buckwheat, and/or flaxseed meal tend to be lower on the glycemic index than breads made with refined white or whole-wheat flour only. Check for breads that contain at least one of these lower carb ingredients.

When reading ingredient labels, remember that the ingredients are listed in descending order, with the most prominent one first, and so on. A bread may advertise itself as “nine grain,” yet all or most of the grains may be on the crust only. Don’t be deceived!

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5 best breads for diabetes
1. High-fiber breads. Look for whole-grain breads that have added soluble fiber, which can reduce a rise in blood glucose levels while also slowing digestion. These breads can still be high in carbs, so don’t over do it!

2. Grain-free bread. Yes, you can buy and make bread without grains and they are gluten-free as well! Typical ingredients include coconut flour, tapioca flour, almond flour, and flaxseed meal. Although you can purchase grain-free breads, you may want to make your own and experiment with the flavors and textures.

3. Multi-grain bread. Look for brands that use whole, unrefined grains, including buckwheat, brown rice, bran, barley, oats, and quinoa. These grains are lower on the glycemic index than wheat flour.

4. Low-carb tortillas. Okay, tortillas aren’t bread, but they can be super substitutes. Look for brands that have added fiber, which reduces the overall carbs available.

5. No bread! If you want bread for a sandwich, be bold and choose nori or leafy green leaves instead. Seaweed sheets (nori) and large lettuce leaves are super low calorie, low carb options for bread and tortillas. Use them a roll-ups for spreads, chopped veggies, shredded cheese, veggie deli slices, and your favorite condiments.

If you have diabetes, you will need to be careful of the breads you choose to eat. Always read the ingredient list and the Nutrition Panel to get the full picture—don’t count on what you read elsewhere on the packaging, because it is designed to get you to buy on impulse.

Image courtesy of Pixabay



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