Trader Joe’s Whole Grain Bread

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I remember two kinds of bread from my childhood, white and wheat. They had subtly different tastes and textures, and for me there was no contest: white bread was my favorite. Wheat bread, I was told at the time, was the healthier bread, but since I didn’t like wheat, white is what I ate.

Since then, I’ve learned that both of them were the wrong answer. White bread and wheat bread are both made from refined flour, where only part of the grain is left, leaving a smoother texture but carving out the most nutritious parts in the process. The better option is whole grain bread, which is higher in fiber and nutrients and is associated with a number of health benefits, including a lower risk for type 2 diabetes.

Even then, “whole grain” can mean different things in different loaves of bread. Some bread advertised as “whole grain” can, in fact, be a mixture of both refined grain and whole grain — an improvement over the all-refined bread, but not ideal. Better still is 100% whole grain, which is high in fiber and has all the healthy components of the wheat grain.

The fiber amount is particularly important. One Harvard study looked at the different ways of evaluating whole grain bread and concluded that the most important factor was the ratio of carbohydrates to fiber. In other words, divide the total grams of carbohydrates by the total grams of fiber. The lower the number, the better: the study indicated that an ideal bread should have a carb-to-fiber ratio of 10:1. For instance, Aldi’s L’Oven Fresh Whole Grain White Bread — which I personally like the taste of — has 26 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fiber, for a ratio of 13:1. According to the Harvard Study, that’s too high.

For that reason, I’ve been on the hunt for bread that has a lower carb-to-fiber ratio. When we saw that Aldi’s distant cousin, Trader Joe’s, was selling a “whole grain” bread, we decided to take a closer look.

Trader Joe's Whole Grain Bread

Trader Joe’s Whole Grain Bread can be found on the grocer’s shelves all the time. The loaf comes in a 24-ounce bag and currently costs $2.99. That comes out to 12.4 cents an ounce.

For comparison, Aldi’s whole grain white is 8.5 cents an ounce, while Walmart’s Great Value Multi Grain Bread costs 10.7 cents an ounce. Most other “whole grain” bread, though, is more expensive, running 16-22 cents an ounce. From a price perspective, the TJ’s bread is on the lower end.

What about nutrition?

Trader Joe's Whole Grain Bread 2

Nutrition information and ingredients. (Click to enlarge.)

One thing is clear from the nutrition and ingredients: this is not 100% whole grain. While whole wheat flour is one ingredient, enriched refined wheat flour is also an ingredient. It’s a mix, much like the Aldi whole grain white. This is also apparent in the carbs and fiber: the TJ’s bread has 19 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of fiber, a ratio of 9.5:1. That’s just under the ideal 10:1 ratio from the aforementioned Harvard study.

There are plenty of breads that have lower ratios. Dave’s Killer Organic Whole Grain Bread, sold at many grocers, boasts a ratio of 4.4:1, while Aldi’s Graintastic and Seedtastic organic breads come in at 5.25:1 and 7:1, respectively. These breads are also considerably more expensive than the TJ’s bread — 17.3 cents an ounce for Aldi, 22.1 for Dave’s — so there is that tradeoff.

That said, the Trader Joe’s bread appears to be a better fiber ratio than your typical store sandwich bread, so there is that.

The TJ’s bread has, in each slice, 90 calories, 1 gram of fat, 170 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of protein, and a modest amount of iron and potassium. The bread also has about 3 grams of added sugar, which in my experience is typical even among 100% whole grain breads. The bread lists three allergens: wheat, soy, and sesame.

Trader Joe's Whole Grain Bread 3

Our testers thought the bread was good. All of us thought it had good flavor and a good texture. We think this bread is versatile, appropriate for everything from toast to sandwiches.

The Verdict:

Reasonably priced and tasty, Trader Joe’s Whole Grain Bread is a solid bread on its own merits. We like it both as a sandwich bread and as toast. This is not a 100% whole grain bread, though, so if getting the full benefits of whole grain is your goal, there are better — if also more expensive — breads out there.

About Joshua

Joshua is the Co-founder of Aldi Reviewer. He is also a writer and novelist. You can learn more about him at joshuaajohnston.com.

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