Walk down the bread aisle of any grocery store and you’ll find endless options. Italian, rye, sourdough, white, multi-grain, whole wheat, honey wheat. When it comes to bread options there are so many. No wonder it’s confusing to know what’s the best bread for kidney disease!
And if you have diabetes and kidney disease, bread can be something that you have been told to take off the table.
Read on and let’s discover what bread to choose for your kidney health.
The Truth About Carbs
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of bread may be that it’s high carbs. Carbohydrates have gotten a bad wrap mainly because of the increased popularity of weight loss diets like paleo, keto, and south beach.
If you have diabetes you may have also been instructed to limit your carbohydrates to keep your blood sugars in check. The truth is you can have bread even if you have diabetes!
Carbohydrates aren’t the devil. They provide your body with important nutrients like fiber and fuels your body with energy.
Fiber is a carbohydrate that your body can’t digest and helps you feel full for longer. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which your body converts to energy to function.
Some carbohydrates are better to eat than others when you have kidney disease and diabetes. By eating whole grains, these carbohydrates provide your body with lots of fiber to prevent blood sugar spikes and offer your body more vitamins and minerals that you need.
Benefits of fiber
Fiber can help lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels. It can keep your digestive tract moving to prevent constipation and help keep you feeling full and satisfied. (1)
This is important for people with kidney disease as it’s recommended to reduce the amount of protein in your diet. Protein needs depend completely on the individual. A renal dietitian can help you determine how much protein and other nutrients you need for your kidney health.
Protein can help you feel full and satiated. When you reduce the amount of protein in your diet, eating a high fiber diet can help with the feeling of fullness that protein provides.
It takes longer to digest fiber which can help you feel full for longer. Adults need at least 25 grams or more of fiber per day. (2)
Whole grains vs. Refined Grains
Whole grains are the entire grain kernel- bran, germ, and endosperm. Whole grains and whole wheat are both great options for people with kidney disease.
Both whole grain and whole wheat products contain the entire kernel. Whole wheat refers to products that are only using whole wheat kernels. Whole grains refers to other grains.
Examples of whole grains are
- Whole wheat
- Brown rice
Refined grains have been processed to remove the bran and the germ, just leaving the endosperm. The process is done to give it a longer shelf life and a smoother texture.
By striping the bran and germ it also removes a lot of the good stuff like fiber, B vitamins, and iron. The B vitamins and iron are added back in but the fiber is left out.
Examples of refined grains are
- All purpose flour
- White rice
- White bread
Several years ago sprouted grains started to gain popularity. Sprouted bread is made from whole grains that have started to germinate or sprout.
Some studies suggest that sprouted grains have a lower starch content which decreases the amount of carbohydrates. This can also make it easier for some people to digest the grain.
Other differences claim that sprouted grains have increased amino acids and vitamins making it more available for the body to absorb these nutrients.
Bottom line is that sprouted grains are really no healthier than whole grains. Nutrition wise, sprouted grain breads have a similar profile to breads made with whole grains. As long as you are choosing whole intact grains, both are healthy choices for people with kidney disease.
How to choose the best bread for kidney disease
So we know that fiber and carbohydrates are actually really beneficial for our bodies, even with kidney disease and diabetes. However, there are some nutrients that aren’t very healthy for our kidneys. Here is what to look for on the bread label.
Choosing a high fiber bread is best for kidney disease. Look for at least 2 grams of fiber per serving.
Bread is one of the top sources of sodium in our diet. When looking for a brand of bread, you want to make sure that it is low in sodium.
Look for bread that has 140mg or less of sodium per serving.
One of main reasons people with kidney disease have been told to avoid whole grain bread and stick with white is because whole grains are high in phosphorus.
While there is truth to that thinking, the type of phosphorus found in whole grains is an organic source, meaning that it is found naturally in the grain.
Our bodies don’t break down this type of natural phosphorus well. We only absorb about 30-60% of this type of phosphorus so it won’t impact our phosphorus levels significantly.
However, if phosphorus is added to a food product our bodies absorb 100% of this type of phosphorus.
Look for no added phosphorus in the ingredient list. Some examples of added phosphorus to look for on the ingredient list are:
- Calcium phosphate
- Disodium phosphate
- Phosphoric acid
- Monopotassium phosphate
- Sodium tripolyphosphate
Many shelf stable breads will have quite a bit of added sugar. The added sugar is a refined carbohydrate and will cause your blood sugars to spike. Look for 3 grams or less of added sugar on the nutrition facts label.
The last tip is to choose breads that have “thin sliced” or “small sliced” on the label. This cuts down on the portion size of the bread and therefore cuts back on sodium but still provides a good source of fiber.
Best Breads for Kidney Disease
Of course, making your own homemade bread is your best bet when avoiding all the added ingredients but there are some great breads that are perfect for kidney diseases that you can find in the grocery stores.
1. Ezekiel 4:9 Flourless Sprouted Grain Bread
This is a great choice for people with kidney disease. Along with the sprouted whole grains, it has sprouted lentils and soybeans making it a complete protein. This is found at some specialty grocery stores, Hy-Vee, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, and Wal-Mart.
Each slice has 75 mg of sodium, 3 grams fiber, no added sugar per serving and no added phosphates, 5 grams of protein.
2. Dave’s Killer Bread 21 Whole Grains and Seeds Thin-Slice
Another great bread for kidney disease and pretty popular too these days. It’s available at most grocery stores.
Each slice has 2 grams of fiber, 105 mg of sodium, 3 grams of added sugar, no added phosphates and 3 grams of protein.
3. Alvarado Street Bakery Flax and Chia Thin Sliced
You can find this at some Hy-Vee stores, some Natural Grocers stores or order on Amazon.
Each slice contains 85 mg sodium, 2 gram fiber, 1 gram added sugar, no added phosphates, and 4 grams of protein.
4. Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain Thin Sliced 100% Whole Wheat
Available at most grocery stores that is a less expensive option but just as good of a choice for people with kidney disease.
Each slice has 65 mg sodium, 2 grams fiber, 1.5 grams added sugar, no added phosphates, and 3.5 grams of protein.
5. Oroweat 100% Whole Wheat Small Slice
This is another great choice that belongs in the best bread for kidney disease category. It’s a fairly new product found in most grocery stores.
Each slice has 105 mg sodium, 2 grams fiber, 2 grams added sugar, no added phosphates, and 3 grams protein.
There we have it! The best bread for kidney disease is one that contains whole intact grains that are low in sodium, sugar, and added phosphates, and high in fiber.
Bread can have a place on the table if you have diabetes and kidney disease. Making healthy choices the majority of the time is key to managing your kidney disease.