D-thoughts on Bread

Guest Post from Sally Marchini, Dietitian

Bread has become a staple food in our modern diet but can be problematic for those of us with diabetes, especially if it has a high glycemic index, we eat too much of it, or it contains too much of nutrients such as sodium and saturated fat which can affect our heart health and longer term insulin resistance. Today’s blog aims to help to you make better choices by understanding where it fits in the Australian Dietary Guidelines and find a bread that you can enjoy while maximising your glycemic control.

And for those of us who avoid wheat/rye bread due to the gluten content (coeliac disease, wheat intolerance or a FODMAP intolerance) we can take a look at some of those options too.

Probably a good place to start is a look at where bread fits in the Australian Dietary Guidelines, then we’ll go on to a reminder on label reading, which will lead in nicely to a look at some of the better bread choices on the market for people with diabetes based on a comparison table put together by student dietitian Stacey Beech for Dietitian Connection.

Australian Dietary Guidelines

Of course bread fits into the grains and cereals food group in the Australian Dietary Guidelines, and we encourage breads that are full of whole grains which provide extra nutrients and fibre in the bread you’re choosing. This is beneficial for your general health, as well as your diabetes health. And the more whole grains there are, the lower the glycemic index will be to help you avoid those spikes which can be associated with breads for some people.

You can read more about grains in this blog on grains prepared earlier. And the recent blog on snacks highlights that a piece of grainy bread can work well as a snack (with a topping) if you haven’t used your suggested serves for the day.

Label reading on bread packs

It’s important not just to think about the amount of carbohydrate in the bread you’re choosing, because often if the carb is low they’ve had to manipulate fat and sodium to make up for it.

As with most products we should be aiming for lower total fat (breads are usually quite low at around 2-6g/100g), lower saturated fat (well under 2g/100g) and lower sodium (less than 400mg/100g). Fibre should be as high as possible, and protein can be higher too (to contribute to lowering the GI).

As an example, although the Helgas low carb seeded loaf is indeed lower in carb with 27.7g/100g compared with 44.5g/100g in the ‘usual’ one, there’s over 10% more energy (kilojoules) meaning it won’t help with weight management because the fat is 10.9g/100g in the low carb version, compared with 2.8 in the grainy one. If you’re not trying to lose weight then it’ll be fine, but it’s worth bearing this in mind as we know that extra body weight contributes to poorer glycemic control.

It’s also worth checking comparison tables as I noticed there’s a bread called ‘Well Being Lower Carb Bread’ that actually has the same level of carbs as many of the wholegrain varieties – just a reminder to not always believe what it says on the pack!

Good bread options from the Dietitian Connection bread comparison table by Stacey Beech

This is a mini-table with content taken from Stacey’s more comprehensive table, to show you some of the better bread choices on the market. All values are per 100g.

By no means am I suggesting these are the best breads, but by showing you this comparison I hope to help you to recognise which breads will be better choices for you. I’ve only chosen the ‘mainline’ brands to compare. And I’ve only covered wheat breads here, where rye breads are also a good option.

Bread Energy (kJ) Protein (g) Fat (total) (g) Fat (sat) (g) Carb (g) Dietary Fibre (g) Sodium (mg)
Burgen Wholegrain & Oats Bread 964 10.7 9.1 0.6 31.9 6.4 280
Helga’s Traditional Wholemeal Grain Bread 1010 9.9 4.0 <1.0 38.0 7.3 400
Coles Smart Buy Multigrain Sandwich 990 8.8 2.4 0.4 47.0 4.3 400
Well Being Lower Carb Bread 952 10.4 2.1 0.6 36.8 8.8 349
Tip Top 9 Grain Wholemeal 1040 12.4 6.4 0.7 30.6 8.7 370

And here are some of the gluten free comparisons if you have an interest here.

Bread Energy (kJ) Protein (g) Fat (total) (g) Fat (sat) (g) Carb (g) Dietary Fibre (g) Sodium (mg)
Helga’s Sunflower and Red Quinoa GF Bread 1100 6.3 8.0 <1.0 40.1 4.2 400
Coles GF Chia & Seed Bread 1130 7.3 7.5 1.5 41.2 3.7 280
Country Life Gluten & Dairy Free Lower GI 1030 6.0 7.2 <1.0 37.2 4.2 400
Pure Bred Multigrain Farmhouse (added Iron) 717 5.1 2.3 0.3 32.6 9.7 534
Burgen GF Sunflower and Chia  Bread 1190 7.0 9.7 1.4 39.7 4.2 400

I included a variety of breads here for you consider what type of bread will suit your personal needs, but of course you should consider how you personally enjoy the taste of the bread you’ve chosen. Trying a few different varieties is often a good idea in that respect to find what works for you, for taste, glycemic control and long term health.

Sourdough and Wraps

These types of breads can be beneficial for people with diabetes, especially for those who really don’t like the grainer options.

With sourdough it’s important to check that it is ‘real’ sourdough as the term ‘sourdough’ is often misused as a marketing word on some breads. If it’s real sourdough, then the glycemic index should be lower (due to the fermentation process involved).


There are a few good wraps around, although there aren’t many actually listed in the Low GI Shoppers Guide 2014 with a low-GI. The only one I could spot was the Diego’s low-carb wraps which have 11.g carb per serve. But I’d be checking the fat and sodium levels on that label before buying them…

One of our often discussed favourites is the Goodness SuperFoods Barley Max wrap which does tick all the boxes, so is a great one to try if you haven’t already.


I don’t want bread!

Of course no-one is suggesting that we *have to* eat bread. Many people I know choose to avoid it for various reasons, and that’s what suits you, then it’s easy to meet your grain serve guidelines in other foods.

It’s also worth mentioning that everyone is different as to how different carbs affect your BGLs, so a little self-experimenting with testing your BGLs before and 2 hours after meals can go a long way with various foods so you can have a better feel as to how those foods affect you personally.

I hope you’ve found this blog on bread helpful in making your choices best for your diabetes and general wellbeing. Sally 🙂

Sally is owner of her private practice (Marchini Nutrition), has had type 1 diabetes for close to 40 years and coeliac disease for many years too. 


  1. helwild on February 9, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks Sally! Just a question, what are the recommended daily servings of bread, and how does it differ with age, gender, height, ‘ideal’ weight, type of diabetes? If it does. Thanks! Helen W

    • Sally on February 22, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      Hi Helen,

      Great question! There isn’t a ‘recommended daily serving of bread’ as such. Bread fits within the grains and cereals group in the Australian Dietary Guidelines. To know how many serves for your age and gender, and more info about diabetes and grains, you can check this blog I wrote earlier for Diabetes Counselling Online: /wonderful-wholegrains-help-with-d-management-and-much-more/

      With regard to the specifics in types of diabetes, this should be discussed with your dietitian for personalised advice. As far as bread goes, if you didn’t eat it, it wouldn’t really matter. It’s more important to choose well if you do decide to eat it.

      Hoping that answers your question. Sally 🙂

      • helwild on February 23, 2015 at 9:25 am

        Yes Sally Thank you 🙂

  2. Sue on February 10, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Thanks Sally, interesting post. I started using Bergen breads over ten years ago after I read the New Glucose Revolution. For the last few years it has been the most industrial thing I eat, only resisted artisan soudough because it does not come with a NIP. After having digestive issues for a few months, I’ve now switched to wholemeal organic* spelt sourdough and no more digestive issues.
    *Like all the other grain foods I use.

    • Sally on February 22, 2015 at 5:44 pm

      Thanks for sharing Sue. Glad to hear you found a solution that fits will a variety of medical issues.

      Sally 🙂