Eating the wrong type of bread can be a real issue for people with diabetes. Certain breads have a high glycemic index (GI), which can quickly raise blood sugar levels. Research shows that high GI foods significantly increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 90%.

It’s challenging to see how everyday choices like selecting which bread to consume can significantly impact health. Often, the breads marketed as healthy are the ones that can cause the most harm. This makes it difficult to make informed choices without the right information.

In this article, you will discover how to identify breads that are good for managing diabetes and those you should avoid. We will guide you through selecting breads with a low to medium GI, which can help control blood sugar levels effectively. You’ll also learn how to read nutrition labels to make informed choices that support your health and keep your blood sugar in check.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose breads with a low to medium glycemic index (GI) to help manage blood sugar levels effectively. Breads like whole grain, sourdough, and traditional pumpernickel have lower GIs and are more suitable for diabetics.
  • High-fiber breads can help slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, preventing rapid spikes in blood sugar. Look for breads that contain at least 3 grams of fiber per slice.
  • Avoid white and refined flour breads as they have a high GI and can quickly increase blood sugar. These breads lack fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making them less beneficial for blood sugar control.
  • Sprouted breads like Ezekiel and whole grain breads are beneficial because they have reduced carbohydrate content and higher fiber levels. These characteristics make them effective in managing blood sugar levels.
  • When selecting bread, reading nutrition labels to check for total carbohydrates, caloric value, and serving size is essential. Ensure the bread fits your daily carbohydrate limits and offers nutritional benefits like fiber.
  • Avoid breads with added sugars and sweetened toppings, as well as those containing dried fruits. These can significantly increase the carbohydrate content and glycemic index, leading to higher blood sugar levels.

Understanding Bread and Diabetes

Different types of bread have varying impacts on blood sugar levels, primarily influenced by their glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL). According to a study, the glycemic index measures how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels after consumption; foods with a low GI (55 or less) lead to a slower and more gradual increase in blood sugar, while medium GI foods (56-69) cause a moderate rise, and high GI foods (70-100) can lead to swift spikes. 

Glycemic load further refines this by considering the amount of carbohydrates in a serving of food, offering a more precise indication of a food’s impact on blood sugar. For people managing diabetes, choosing bread with a low to moderate GI and GL can be crucial for maintaining stable blood sugar levels. This approach helps prevent the rapid increases in blood sugar that can complicate diabetes management.

Best Breads for Diabetics

When choosing bread, diabetics should choose varieties supporting blood sugar control through low glycemic indices and high fiber content. Here are some of the best breads for diabetics:

Whole Grain Breads

Whole grain bread

Whole-grain breads are good for people with diabetes because they help manage important health markers that affect diabetes control. A study showed that when people with Type 2 diabetes ate 180 grams of whole-grain wheat bread daily for 12 weeks, they saw significant health improvements. For example, their hemoglobin A1c, which indicates blood sugar levels over several months, decreased by about 0.91 mmol/mol. 

Their fasting blood sugar levels also reduced significantly, dropping about 36 units. Furthermore, their triglyceride levels, a type of fat in the blood, decreased by around 40 mg/dL. This kind of bread also helps increase the good cholesterol (HDL) in their bodies and decrease the bad cholesterol (LDL). These changes suggest that whole-grain bread can help improve blood sugar control and overall heart health in people with diabetes.

Examples of whole grains include:

  • Whole wheat
  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Barley
  • Quinoa
  • Millet

Sprouted Breads

Sprouted Breads

Sprouted breads, like Ezekiel bread, benefit people with diabetes due to their nutrient composition and lower impact on blood sugar levels. These breads are made from whole grains and legumes allowed to sprout, which changes their nutrient makeup and reduces their carbohydrate content. For instance, Ezekiel bread contains about 15 grams of carbohydrates per slice, lower than traditional white bread. This reduced carbohydrate content helps in managing blood sugar levels more effectively. 

Additionally, sprouted breads are high in fiber; a slice of Ezekiel bread typically has about 3 grams of fiber. Fiber is crucial for diabetic diets as it slows digestion, which helps prevent sudden spikes in blood sugar. Studies suggest that fiber-rich diets can improve glycemic control, making sprouted breads like Ezekiel a smart choice for those managing diabetes.

Sourdough and Traditional Pumpernickel Bread

Sourdough and Traditional Pumpernickel Bread

Sourdough and traditional pumpernickel bread are also beneficial for individuals with diabetes due to their lower glycemic index than many other bread types. Sourdough bread has a unique fermentation process involving natural yeasts and bacteria and typically has a lower glycemic index. 

The fermentation process breaks down some of the carbohydrates, slowing the rate of glucose entering the bloodstream. Similarly, traditional pumpernickel bread, made from coarsely ground whole rye grains, also has a low glycemic index. Studies have shown that rye bread induces a lower insulin response and is digested more slowly, which can help control blood sugar levels.

Here are examples of both types of bread:

Sourdough Bread:

  • Plain sourdough
  • Whole wheat sourdough
  • Rye sourdough

Traditional Pumpernickel Bread:

  • German-style pumpernickel
  • Dark rye pumpernickel
  • Whole grain pumpernickel

Breads Made from Almond, Flaxseed, and Chia Seed Flours

Breads Made from Almond, Flaxseed, and Chia Seed Flours

Breads containing flours like almonds, flaxseed, and chia seeds benefit individuals with diabetes because they contain low carbohydrates high fiber, protein, and healthy fat levels. For instance, one serving (1/4 cup or 28 grams) of almond flour contains about 160 calories, 6 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 grams of fiber, significantly lower than traditional wheat flour. 

This low-carb and high-fiber combination helps maintain more stable blood sugar levels. Flaxseed flour is rich in alpha-linolenic acid and fibers that can help reduce post-meal blood sugar levels. Chia seeds are also very high in fiber, which slows down digestion and results in a slower release of glucose into the blood.

Studies indicate that diets incorporating these flours may improve glycemic control; for instance, a study showed that bread made with flaxseed flour could lower fasting blood sugars and insulin levels in participants with type 2 diabetes. Incorporating these flours into bread and other recipes can thus be a strategic part of a diabetes management plan.

Breads to Avoid

Certain types of bread can worsen blood sugar control issues because of their high glycemic index and low nutritional value. Here are some types of breads that diabetics should generally avoid:

White and Refined Flour Breads

Loaf of white bread

White and refined flour breads are generally recommended to be avoided by individuals with diabetes because they are high on the glycemic index, which means they can rapidly increase blood sugar levels. These breads are made from flour with bran and germ removed, leaving mostly the starchy endosperm. 

This process removes fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making the bread less nutritious and quicker to digest. When digested quickly, it releases glucose into the bloodstream at a faster rate, which can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels. According to a study, foods with a high glycemic index, like white bread, can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes compared to foods with a lower glycemic index.

Sweetened Breads

Sweetened Breads

Sweetened breads often contain high levels of added sugars and refined carbohydrates, which can be harmful to individuals with diabetes. Ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, and molasses contribute to the overall sugar content and lead to rapid increases in blood sugar levels. These ingredients are typically found in many commercially available breads and enhance flavor, texture, and shelf-life.

Studies have shown that high intake of ultra-processed foods, which often include sweetened bread, is associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. For instance, refined breads have been specifically linked to increased diabetes risk. Research involving large US cohorts found that high consumption of ultra-processed foods increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 12% for every 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods consumed.

Bread with Added Fruits or Treats

Bread with dried fruits like raisins

Bread with added fruits, such as raisins or other dried fruits, can pose challenges for individuals with diabetes due to their higher sugar content and glycemic index (GI). The glycemic index measures how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels; foods with a higher GI can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar. For example, dried fruits like raisins and dates have higher GI values, around 60 or greater, which means they can significantly impact blood sugar levels when consumed?.

Additionally, these foods contain more concentrated sugars because drying removes water, intensifying their natural sugars. This is why the portion sizes for dried fruits are much smaller compared to fresh fruits. A small portion of dried fruit, like raisins, can contain about 15 grams of carbohydrates, the same amount found in much larger servings of fresh fruits.

Reading Nutrition Labels

When managing diabetes, paying close attention to what you eat is crucial, especially concerning carb-laden foods like bread. Reading nutrition labels can be your best tool in choosing breads that align with your dietary needs without spiking your blood sugar. Here’s how to become label-savvy when selecting bread.

Tips on What to Look for in Bread Packaging

Woman reading nutritional label on bread

  • Carbohydrate Content: Check the total carbohydrates per slice. Keeping this in check is essential as it directly impacts blood sugar levels. Look for breads that contain no more than 15 grams of carbohydrates per slice.
  • Caloric Value: For calorie management, opt for breads that offer 100 calories or less per slice. This is particularly important if you’re watching your weight, which can influence diabetes management.
  • Serving Size: Sometimes the serving size on labels can be misleading. Double-check to ensure that the listed nutrients correspond to a single slice, as some labels might base their nutritional information on two slices.

Importance of Fiber Content

Fiber plays a significant role in controlling blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. It can also aid digestion and help maintain a feeling of fullness, preventing overeating. Look for breads that have at least 3 grams of fiber per slice. High-fiber breads can be made from whole grains or contain added ingredients like oats, quinoa, or bran.

How to Identify Truly Whole-Grain Products

Whole grains have a lower glycemic index than refined grains and can help in better blood sugar management.

  • Check the Ingredients List: The first ingredient should explicitly state “whole,” such as whole wheat or whole rye. This indicates that the bread is made from the entire grain kernel.
  • Whole-Grain Stamps: Some products might feature a whole-grain stamp from the Whole Grains Council, which can help you identify products that contain 100% whole grains or a mix of whole and refined grains.
  • Misleading Labels: Be cautious of terms like “multigrain,” “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” or “seven-grain.” These do not necessarily mean that the bread is made from whole grains. Unless the label says “whole” on the first listed ingredient, it’s not a whole-grain product.


Selecting the appropriate bread types is crucial for effectively managing diabetes. Breads with a low to moderate glycemic index and load, like whole grain, sprouted, sourdough, and traditional pumpernickel breads, can help stabilize blood sugar levels. These breads, rich in fibers and nutrients, slow down glucose absorption and enhance overall health indicators for individuals with diabetes. 

On the other hand, white and refined flour bread, along with sweetened and fruit-added varieties, should generally be avoided due to their high glycemic index and potential to increase blood sugar levels rapidly. Diabetics should develop the skill of reading nutrition labels, opting for bread with low carbohydrate content and high fiber, and recognizing whole-grain products to make well-informed dietary decisions promoting their health and well-being.

FAQs About Bread And Diabetes

How many slices of bread can a diabetic eat per day?

Diabetics can eat bread as part of their diet if it fits their daily carb limits. One slice of bread with 15 grams of carbs is typically suitable for sandwiches.

Does toasting bread make it better for diabetics?

Toasting bread slightly lowers its glycemic index, but the change is minimal and might not significantly impact blood sugar levels.

Can diabetics eat dark bread?

Diabetics can safely consume dark bread. It is rich in fiber, removed from white bread during processing. The fiber in dark bread helps regulate blood sugar levels, aids digestion, and lowers cholesterol. Additionally, dark bread may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, digestive disorders, stroke, and obesity.

Is seeded bread good for diabetics?

Seeded breads are beneficial because they contain healthy fats, protein, and fiber, though they are higher in calories. If they are calorie-dense, it’s advisable to stick to one slice.

How many slices of multigrain bread can a diabetic eat?

Multigrain breads are packed with fiber, healthy fats, and protein, making them a great choice for diabetics. Remember that some varieties may be high in calories, typically around 100 calories per slice, so moderation is key.

What is the best bread for type 2 diabetes?

Whole-grain and whole-wheat breads are ideal as they contain complex carbohydrates and fiber, which help moderate blood sugar increases.

Which bread has no sugar?

Ciabatta and classic Italian bread typically contain no sugar. Pita bread is usually made without sugar, though some recipes might include it.

What is the lowest glycemic bread?

Ezekiel bread, with a glycemic index of 36, is one of the best options. It includes sprouted grains and legumes, boosting its fiber content and making it suitable for a low-glycemic diet.

Does bread bring down blood sugar?

Due to its high glycemic index, white bread can cause quick blood sugar spikes. In contrast, breads with a low glycemic index, such as those made with whole grains, increase blood sugar more slowly and evenly.


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