Plant Based Bread: A Dietitian’s 101 (+5 Best Vegan Breads)

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What makes bread plant based?

Is it the same thing vegan?

What are the best vegan breads, and how can I make healthier choices in general?

Those are great questions! As a vegan, I read many bread labels.

As a dietitian, I’ve received so many questions about bread! So keep reading to get the scoop from a vegan food and nutrition expert.

Disclaimer: This article is just providing education and is not providing personal dietary advice. Talk to your doctor about any health concerns and before starting supplements and making major dietary changes. See our Disclaimers for more details.

This article was originally published on 1/6/22. The recent updated date is listed above.

Can You Eat Bread on Plant Based Diet?

Absolutely! As long as you do not have any health problems associated with bread or its ingredients.

For example, those that medically require a gluten free diet should avoid gluten containing bread.

If you have any personal questions about which foods are appropriate for you, consult your own dietitian and doctor.

Is Bread Plant Based?

Yes, bread is made primarily of plant based ingredients, so it is often considered plant based.

Plant based ingredients (such as wheat, rye, or other type of flour) are typically number one on the ingredients label.

Don’t just take my word for it, grab a loaf and take a look!

And if you are wondering what ‘plant based’ actually means take a look at this definition from Dictionary.cambridge.org/us/. They define “plant-based” as:

“Consisting or made completely of plants, or mainly of plants:”

Source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/plant-based

But wait a second, there are tons of bread on the market with highly processed ingredients and additives, so how can that be plant based? 

Simply put: highly processed ingredients in bread likely came from plants originally.

However, that white piece of bread that leaves you feeling hungry one minute later might not be your vision of ‘plant based bread.’

If that sounds like you, perhaps you are a whole foods plant based consumer, which brings us to the next topic…

Whole Food Plant Based Bread – WFPB Bread

Picture of sliced homemade bread with a knife

If you aren’t familiar with the term “Whole Foods Plant Based”(wfpb), let me explain.

Like those on plant based diets, a wfpb individual also limits (or even eliminates) animal products and focuses on plant based foods.

So what makes a wfpb approach different than a plant based one?

In general, wfpb individuals might have a stronger emphasis on the following (please note, there is not dictionary definition for wfpb that we are aware of):

  • Eating food that is minimally processed (hence the “whole” part of the term) and avoiding foods that are more processed.
    For example, a wfpb person might mash a whole avocado on their toast as opposed to spreading on a more processed food, like margarine.
  • Wfpb people may be more likely to care about perceived food quality.
    For example, purchasing local and/or organic produce.

Alright, so what kind of plant based bread would be a candidate for the wfpb diet? Lets ask someone who typically follows a wfpb diet (Oh hey! That’s me! That was easy)!

Here is what I look for when it comes to wfpb bread picking (disclaimer: this is what I personally look for and is not meant to tell you exactly what to buy):

  • The main ingredients in bread comes from whole sources (ie: whole or sprouted wheat, whole oats, rye)
  • Added sugars are minimal to none or derived only from fruit (ie: dates, raisins).
  • Ingredients are likely familiar and close to their original form (ie: whole wheat instead of refined wheat flour)
  • Organic ingredients if possible

In Summary: A wfpb consumer is always plant based, but a plant based individual is not always wfpb.

But you may still be asking, where does that put vegans?

Lets tackle that question next!

Is Plant Based the Same as Vegan Bread?

Nope!

A vegan diet goes beyond plant based. In fact, it is a 100% plant based diet, meaning that the diet only contains plants based and vegan foods.

This means that vegan bread would need to be devoid of all animal products. Whereas plant based bread could have some animal derived ingredients.

For more on in depth information on the subject, check out this article:

In short, here’s a list of some more common bread ingredients vegans avoid:

  • Honey
  • Dairy (often listed as milk___ (milk fat, milk protein, skim milk, etc),, butter, butter fat, casein, or caseinate,  buttermilk, whey, etc)
  • Fish Oil or fish gelatin.
  • Eggs, Egg whites
  • Mono and diglycerides (sometimes– as this may or may not be vegan)

Putting this into practical terms, vegans generally avoid these types of bread when they are made with animal ingredients:
(again this is not a comprehensive or necessarily accurate list as there may be vegan versions of these breads available as well 😉 )

  • Brioche
  • Buttermilk Bread
  • Croissants
  • Zopf Bread
  • Honey Wheat
  • Egg Bread
  • Challah
  • English Muffins
  • Crumpets
  • Paratha
  • Damper Bread
  • Qistibi Bread
  • Obi Non Bread
  • Vanocka Bread

How Do I Pick Healthy Bread?

Bread can be a healthy addition to your diet, and no, not everyone needs a low carb bread!

As you read these tips, remember, to keep the whole of your diet in mind (there are ways to make bread fit)! Of course, if you have questions, talk to your own doctor and Dietitian.

So without further ado, lets get into the tips for choosing a healthier bread!

(FYI: if you have adverse health reactions to certain ingredients in bread, you should avoid it. For example, those with celiac disease should be gluten free).

In Summary:

Tips-for-making-Healthier-plant-based-bread-choices (also in text)
  • Make whole grains your grain of choice
  • Look for breads with at/under 140 milligrams (mg) of sodium per serving
  • Choose breads with less added sugar
  • Consider fermented and sprouted grain breads

Make Big Gains in the Grains Department

When it comes to picking out the best ingredients in your bread, go for the whole grains (the whole nutrition package!)

Why go whole? Because not only do you get the beneficial vitamins, minerals and fiber… the bonus is that some research suggests you may reduce your odds of heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes when choosing whole over refined grains(1).

Whole grains already have the good stuff in them, why take them out?

How do you spot whole grains? Look at the ingredients list. Words like with the word ‘whole’ such as: ‘whole wheat’ and ‘whole rye’ are whole grains, and will likely be the first ingredient listed.

Don’t Be Too Salty

Did you know that bread is one of the top 10 sources of sodium in the United States(2)?

Wow.

With such common conditions like heart disease and hypertension, sodium is a nutrient you may want to mindful of when looking for bread.

How can you choose low sodium breads? Try looking for breads that contain 140 milligrams (mg) of sodium or less per serving(3).

One caveat: sometimes it can be hard to find a bread that contains at or less than 140 mg. So it’s important to be mindful about how many bread servings you are eating, and the amount of sodium in your diet as a whole.

Hold The Sugar

Now this one is going to shock you! Its actually not extremely uncommon to find breads with around 5 grams (sometimes more) of added sugar per slice.

That might not sound like a lot, but if you are following the American Heart Associations recommendation to limit added sugar to no more than about 6 teaspoons (25 grams of added sugar) per day for women, and about 9 teaspoons (36 grams of added sugar) per day for men(4),  having a few slices of bread higher in added sugar can definitely add up!

So, if you are trying to limit this, look for breads with fewer added sugars.

Like sodium, being mindful of your total sugar intake is really what’s important when looking at the big picture.

Too much added sugar can crowd out other nutrient dense and healthy options.

Need a bit of sweetness on top of your toast? Try adding whole fruit! I love adding whole berries on top of bread slathered with peanut butter.

Consider Fermented and/or Sprouted Bread

Perhaps you’ve heard that phytates (antinutrients) in whole grain breads reduces the nutrient content. This does not mean we should avoid whole grains!

Whether phytates really reduces nutrient content in an relatively high phytate diet over time (not short term) is debated.

One randomized control study with female (aged 18-35 years old) participants looked at the impact of phytate consumption on non-heme iron absorption. It suggests that that habitual intake of high phytates foods may reduce the negative effects on non-heme iron absorption (of course, we need more research in this area) (5).

Plus, processing to make a more refined product also strips out some of the beneficial nutrients and fiber in the process. if there is one thing the many Americans aren’t getting enough of in general, its fiber

One study suggests that only around 5% of Americans meet the recommended amount of daily fiber intake (6). Yikes.

But, what’s the work around for this phytate issue… if you still find it an issue?

First of all, the presence of phytates in whole grain breads did not change the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans(DGA(7))!

The 2020-2025 DGA’s still recommends at least half of total grain intake to come from whole grains.

So its hard to imagine phytates as the worst villain if most of us are are encouraged to eat more whole grains.

But, if you do want to reduce pharate in whole grains even more, you might want to look into fermented and sprouted grains.

Some research suggests that fermentation decreases the presence of phytate (8). Other research suggests that sprouting may improve nutrient absorption (9).

So if you are still concerned about phytates, consider adding fermented (such as whole grain sourdough) or sprouted breads to the mix when it comes to choosing whole grain breads.

Plant Based Bread Recipes

Want to make your own bread instead of opting for store bought? Check out these ideas!

And if you were wondering, all of the ones mentioned below just happen to be homemade vegan recipes as well!

  1. Olive Oil Biscuits (Made with Buckwheat) By Laura Yautz, Registered Dietitian at Being Nutritious
  2. Easy Vegan Whole-Wheat Bread with Seeds By Vegan Foodiez
  3. Healthy Whole Wheat Pita Bread (no oil or sugar) By Annisette at Food.com

5 Best Vegan Breads

I’m a big fan of bread!

As a vegan, it can sometimes be difficult finding vegan bread. Luckily, I’ve rounded up 5 of top favorite 100% plant based options!

For this ‘best vegan breads list,” I choose ones that I personally enjoy and have:

  • at/under 140 milligrams of sodium per serving,
  • use whole grains
  • at/under 4 grams of added sugar per serving

Of course– product ingredients/nutrition facts can change at any time, so check your own product.

Finally, as a disclaimer, this list is based on the personal preference of the writer and is not meant to tell you exactly what to eat or provide personal dietary advice. This is not a comprehensive list.

What is considered “healthy” is highly individualized, and should take total dietary pattern and one’s medical conditions/allergies into consideration.

Also, the breads mentioned below are not gluten free so they are not recommended for those who need a gluten free diet.

With all of that being said: here are a couple of my personal favorite breads as a vegan!

Dave’s Killer Bread Powerseed

Picture of a loaf of Daves Killer Bread Powerseed bread.

Ingredients:

“Organic whole wheat (organic whole wheat flour, organic cracked whole wheat), water, organic Powerseed® grain and seed mix (organic whole flax seeds, organic sunflower seeds, organic brown sesame seeds, organic pumpkin seeds, organic black sesame seeds, organic ground whole flax seeds, organic rolled oats), organic wheat gluten, organic fruit juices (organic apple, organic pear, organic peach), organic oat fiber, contains 2% or less of each of the following: sea salt, organic vinegar, organic cultured wheat flour, yeast, enzymes, organic acerola cherry powder.”

Source: https://www.daveskillerbread.com/powerseed

Select Nutrition Facts (per 1 slice serving): 100 calories, 135 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of fiber, 1 gram of added sugar, 5 grams of protein.

Taste: In our opinion, this bread has a hearty whole wheat sandwich bread flavor, that isn’t overly sweet! I love to make tofu or bean salad sandwiches with this bread!

Highlights: In addition to being low in added sugar and under 140 mg of sodium per serving, it has a decent amount of plant based protein, and fiber coming from the whole grain and seed mixture!

Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread

Picture of Food For Life's Ezikel 4 9 package/loaf of bread

Ingredients:

Organic Sprouted Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Lentils, Organic Sprouted Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Spelt, Fresh Yeast, Organic Wheat Gluten, Sea Salt.

Source: https://www.foodforlife.com/product/breads/ezekiel-49-sprouted-whole-grain-bread

Select Nutrition Facts (per 1 slice serving): 80 calories, 75 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of fiber, 0 grams of added sugars, 5 grams of protein.

Taste: In my opinion, this bread has a slightly nutty taste that may come from the sprouted whole grains.

Highlights: Aside from being a lower sodium/no added sugar sprouted grains bread, it has a decent amount of plant based protein, and even contains lentils and soybeans!

This bread is also USDA Organic if that is important to you. P.S. They also have a cinnamon raisin bread variety that is very tasty too!

Angelic Bakehouse Reduced Sodium Sprouted Whole Grain Bread

picture of a loaf of angelic bakehouse reduced sodium whole grain bread.

Ingredients:

“Sprouted whole grains (wheat berries, water, quinoa, millet, amaranth, oat groats, barley, rye berries),  whole wheat flour, wheat gluten, yeast, Contains 2% or less of: oat fiber, molasses, sunflower oil, salt, cultured wheat flour”

Source: https://www.angelicbakehouse.com/products/low-sodium-bread

Select Nutrition Facts (per 1 slice serving): Per 1 Slice Serving: 90 calories, 90 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of added sugars, 4 grams of protein.

Taste: This bread has a hearty yet light flavor at the same time! I love the smooth texture, which is something I prefer flavor-wise when it comes to sprouted breads.

If you are looking for a sprouted bread that tastes less nutty than the Food for Life/Ezekiel options, you might like this one’s more mild taste!

Highlights: This bread includes sprouted whole grains like barley, quinoa and millet. For those who find it important, the product page states bread is also high fructose corn syrup free.

365 (Whole Foods Market) Organic Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

hand holding a 365 (Whole Foods Market Brand) organic whole wheat bread loaf.

Ingredients:

“Organic Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Organic Vital Wheat Gluten, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Molasses, Yeast, Contains Less Than 2% of the Following: Organic Oat Bran, Organic Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Organic Wheat Flour, Sea Salt, Organic Distilled White Vinegar, Organic Wheat Starch, Organic Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier), Organic Cultured Wheat Flour, Salt, Ascorbic Acid, Microbial Enzymes.”

Source: https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/product/365-by-whole-foods-market-whole-wheat-sandwich-bread-20-oz-b07fw76lsm

Select Nutrition Facts (per 1 slice serving): 80 calories, 135 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of added sugar, 4 grams of protein.

Taste: this one has bread has a more smooth, texture than the Ezekiel bread. It’s also tastes like it has less ‘roughage’ than the Ezekiel or Dave’s Killer Powerseed – which some folks may prefer!

Highlights: This whole grain bread is less hefty than the Dave’s Killer Power bread, which some might prefer as quick pre workout snack!

If organic ingredients are important to you, than you might find this one at a more affordable price than several other brands (of course, check sales and up to date prices).

Dave’s Killer Bread: Raisin’ The Roof!

hand holding dave's killer bread raisin' the roof bread.

Ingredients:

“Organic wheat (organic whole wheat flour, organic wheat flour), water, organic raisins, organic Raisin’ the Roof!® grain and seed mix (organic rolled oats, organic rolled wheat, organic whole flax seeds, organic brown sesame seeds, organic sunflower seeds), organic cane sugar, organic cinnamon bits (organic cane sugar, organic wheat flour, organic cinnamon, organic sunflower oil), yeast, organic wheat gluten, contains 2% or less of each of the following: organic expeller pressed canola oil , sea salt, organic vinegar, organic cultured wheat flour, enzymes, organic acerola cherry powder.”

Source: https://www.daveskillerbread.com/raisin-the-roof/

Select Nutrition Facts (per 1 slice serving): Calories: 90, 95 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of added sugar, 3 grams of protein.

Taste: This one is hearty, and flavorful with that extra sweetness from the raisins and cinnamon sugar bits.

Highlights: There are so many cinnamon raisin breads that use refined wheat flour. While tasty, they likely have less fiber and protein than this one.

What Breads Are Plant Based? (Summary)

Most breads are plant based. That’s because the main ingredients in typical loaf of bread come from plants – such as wheat.

Some folks confuse ‘Plant based’ for ‘vegan.’

For bread to be 100% vegan, it must be devoid of animal derived ingredients. A plant based food only needs to have plants as the main ingredients.

Finally, whole grain bread can often be a good addition to a healthy diet as – long as you are not allergic or don’t have adverse reactions to it’s ingredients (such as with celiac disease) .

Did this post clarify what plant based bread is? What’s your favorite vegan bread available at your nearest grocery store? Leave us a comment below!
And while you’re here, why not poke around on our blog? In the Vegan Food & Nutrition Library, you’ll find all sorts of topics such as:

Plant Based Diet book Picks from Registered Dietitians
-How to Make a Vegan Grocery List
Vegan Quotes
Types of Vegans
Finally, if you want to keep up with our new posts
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4 thoughts on “Plant Based Bread: A Dietitian’s 101 (+5 Best Vegan Breads)”

  1. Nevertheless, many people desire to avoid artificial sweeteners as a result of style and/or the unknown influence of artificial sweeteners on human health.

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