Because life is better with bread.
Credit: Jennifer Sweenie

Welcome to our new Nutritionist Picks series! This week, we sent a nutritionist to Whole Foods to pick the best low-carb and healthy sandwich breads for back to school (and year-round). 

Bread has gotten a pretty bad rap in recent years. From shunning the bread basket at restaurants to eating burgers with a knife and fork, many are giving carbs the proverbial boot. 

But let’s face it, a portobello mushroom is not a bun and a hollowed out cucumber is not the most practical vehicle for tuna salad. Fortunately, all of this creative avoidance has led to the rise of healthy, tasty sandwich breads to fit every dietary preference and need. 

To help you navigate the dizzying array of loaves at the grocery store, here’s how I shop for the most nutritious bread options, as well as my two favorite sandwich breads (plus one wrap) that I picked up at my local Whole Foods. 

How to pick a healthy sandwich bread

I recommend skipping the bread aisle and heading to the freezer section. Frozen bread typically means the product is preservative-free and has a shorter shelf life. That’s a good thing, because when it comes to packaged foods, the longer the shelf life, the more preservatives. Additionally, frozen bread will last anywhere from nine months to a year. To thaw, just defrost on the counter for a few minutes or pop in the microwave or toaster until heated through.

As for ingredients, check the back label for whole foods that you recognize and can pronounce. Scan the list for any artificial sweeteners, dyes, preservatives, or hydrogenated oils (e.g., soybean oil, canola oil, vegetable oil). If you don’t know what an ingredient is, pull out your phone and investigate. Any grains in the list should be whole—meaning they’re still intact and haven’t been processed. 

Next, look at the nutrition label. One of the most important numbers to look for is zero grams of added sugar. You also want to look for three or more grams of fiber per serving to keep you full and satiated. Here’s a recap of everything you want to look for. 

My criteria for a healthy sandwich bread: 

  • No preservatives
  • Simple ingredients 
  • Three or more grams of fiber per serving 
  • Made with whole grains
  • No sweeteners, dyes, preservatives, or hydrogenated oil
  • Zero added sugar

Nutritionist’s Picks: My favorite sandwich breads—plus a tasty wrap.

Base Culture Original Keto Bread

Credit: Jennifer Sweenie

Grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut-free, non-gmo, and soy-free, Base Culture’s signature bread has 110 calories, four grams of net carbs, and four grams of protein per slice. Unlike other gluten-free baked goods, this bread is moist, flavorful, and provides the perfect sturdy bookends to a jam-packed sandwich. Made from nuts and seeds, it’s a great low carb option that’s 100% natural with no artificial ingredients, zero added sugar, and a hefty four grams of fiber per serving. Base Culture also makes a nut and seed bread, as well as a dairy-free cheese loaf. 

Food for Life 7 Sprouted Grains Bread

Credit: Jennifer Sweenie

Not only would grandma recognize the ingredients in this loaf, she’d approve of its nutrient density and hearty flavor. While not gluten-free, this bread is flour-free. At 80 calories per slice, it’s made from organic, sprouted whole grains that are unground, which allows for slower conversion to glucose. Sprouting unlocks the benefits of grains and results in more nutrients, lower gluten, easier digestibility, and an increased absorption of minerals. No added sugar and four grams of fiber make this a great vegan and nut-free lunchbox option.

Siete Cassava Flour Tortillas

Credit: Jennifer Sweenie

For an alternative to the traditional sandwich, Siete’s vegan wraps are gluten- and grain-free, have no added sugars, and don’t use sugar, soy, dairy, or GMOs. Each serving (two tortillas) has four grams of fiber, 120 calories, and no preservatives. Slather on some mustard and layer with deli slices or hummus and veggies for an easy lunch, or fill a couple wraps with eggs, avocado, and salsa for breakfast.  

Jennifer Sweenie is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Primal Health Coach, and Health-Supportive Chef. Read more from her on her blog, Heart & Belly.