Sara Lee Bread Loses High Fructose Corn Syrup. So What!

Behemoth food processor Sara Lee announced yesterday that it will cease using high fructose corn syrup in its Soft & Smooth and 100 percent Whole Wheat bread lines. The reason – consumers, especially moms, have asked the company to make this change. But will this change make the bread any healthier?

Most dietitians and health professionals agree that HFCS and sugar are equally bad in the amounts being consumed by the average American today. There are a few studies showing that excess fructose may lead to health problems. But both sugar and HFCS contain fructose in similar amounts. Agave nectar is almost all fructose, yet enjoys a health halo.

So the issue here, for the most part, is not scientific, rather market based. Many parents don’t buy products with HFCS because of what they symbolize – highly processed junk food. Sara Lee, like many other food manufacturers in the past few years, is wise to disentangle itself from such a negative ingredient.

That said, there are a lot of REAL improvements Sara Lee can make to improve the nutritional value of their breads. Let’s take a look at the newly formulated Sara Lee Soft and Smooth Whole Grain White Bread

What you need to know:

1. Sugars. The serving size of 2 slices is 150 calories. With it comes 4 grams of sugar (1 teaspoon). In this version they are from table sugar. In the previous version of the product they came from HFCS. Why sugar in bread? Dump it all together.

2. Fiber. The fiber count is important; after all the company claims the bread is an Excellent source of whole grain (This product contains 35% of its grain as whole grain and provides 10 g of whole grain in a 2 slice serving. USDA recommends consuming 48 g of whole grain every day). Unfortunately this only translates to 3 grams of fiber (12% of the DV). On the bright side, it is 50% more fiber than the product had in its previous incarnation.

3. More Whole Wheat. Here’s the full ingredient list:

Enriched Bleach Flour [Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Water, Whole Grain [Whole Wheat Flour, Brown Rice Flour (Rice Flour, Rice Bran Including Germ)], Sugar, Wheat Gluten, Yeast, Cellulose, Contains 2% or Less of Each of Following: Calcium Sulfate, Soybean Oil, Salt, Dough Conditioners (May Contain One or More of the Following: Mono- and Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Mono- and Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Calcium Peroxide, DATEM, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Enzymes), Guar Gum, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Distilled Vinegar, Butter (Cream, Salt), Yeast Nutrients (Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate and/or Calcium Carbonate), Corn Starch, Natural Flavor, Vitamin D3, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour.

It tells the real story – whole grain is the THIRD ingredient, only after the processed, fiber poor “enriched flour” which makes up most of the product.

Sara Lee should avoid confusing their loyal consumers by naming what is basically a white bread as whole wheat (Sara Lee Soft and Smooth Whole Grain White Bread).

What to do at the supermarket:

When choosing bread, go for those marked as 100% Whole Wheat. You’ll get a better deal on the fiber. Sugar should be zero or close to it. And the shorter the ingredient list, the better.

  • Stan

    Notice how they’re capitalizing on the fact they took out the HFCS and using it as a marketing ploy on the label to insinuate that the bread is now healthier! Never pass up an opportunity to deceive.

  • Corey

    Sugars are not there for flavor alone… surgar promotes browning (that delicious mahogany color on the bread) and sugar acts as a tenderizer…helping to make the bread soft.

    Well when companies started using HFCS they were touting its benefits and saying things like ‘not made with sugar’ or something along those lines… funny how now it’s reversed and cane sugar is what everyone wants. It’s all in our heads! There’s a negligible difference between the two!

  • Brooke

    I’m disappointed that Fooducate decided to highlight the white bread rather than the whole wheat. Seems to me that those reading this feed (including myself) would be more inclined to purchase the whole wheat and thus have more of an interest in looking at it in depth. Of course a thorough comparison would have also been good.

  • bill

    It’s obvious the author has never made bread and/or has zero clue about how yeast works. No sugar = no food for yeast. No yeast growth = unleavened bread.

  • Corey

    Thanks Bill, I forgot that too, I take it for granted sometimes that that isn’t always obvious

  • Jason

    Sprouted grain bread for the win. No added sugar and flourless. Taste is flavorful and hearty. Problem solved.

  • Joanna @

    Bleached flour is the number 1 ingredient? Do not want.

  • Heidi

    Yes, but not everyone has time to make sprouted bread or the money to buy it.

  • Jessica

    for our family, bread is one of those things I don’t need to buy. It’s easily made from very simple ingredients, tastes a million times better than store bought, can be made in small loaf sizes, freezes well, and my personal favorite, if I have to MAKE it, that means we eat alot LESS of it. Just like cookies.

  • Lam

    So true, I see high fructose corn syrup in just about anything nowadays. I try to stay away from anything that has that as one of the first 5 ingredients, and also any bread that has enriched flour … don’t want anything with high glyemic index in my belly! I’m a big fan of Arnold bread, especially the high protein, high fiber ones they’ve been coming out with. Not sure if they contain high fructose corn syrup though… maybe I should check again!

  • Wet Wolf

    Bread should be avoided all together.

  • Corey

    @Wet Wolf
    wet wolf = wet blanket … bread is one of the most awesome foods ever

  • Jason

    @Corey Not to mention, dairy – so versatile. Now, if he/she said to avoid soy, I’d be right with him/her.

  • Anne

    I will contact Sara Lee tomorrow to voice my opinion/concerns/suggestions.

  • Anne

    How do you make Sprouted Grain Bread? I would love to learn how to make bread. Well I have, but I am a newbie at it.

  • Ken

    Right or Wrong, and I think they are dead wrong there is a very large group of people who don’t object to HFCS because it symbolizes JUNK food. They believe that it’s literally POISON. They don’t care how much is in a product, they were told it’s “bad” and they demand products free of it. The funny part is food processors switched to HFCS because Federal trade policy made it artifically cheaper than sugar (in the US only) to support the farm lobbby.

  • Consumer Freedom

    Thank you for clarifying what is happening here. “So the issue here, for the most part, is not scientific, rather market based.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup are indistinguishable to the human body. However, some companies are trying to take advantage of a negative (and undeserved) perception of high fructose corn syrup by swapping sweeteners. In reality, there’s not much to this other than that it’s a gimmick.

  • PissedOffCitizen

    Exactly! This world makes me sick!

  • foods high in iron


    Its great guys that Sara Lee Bread Loses High Fructose Corn Syrup.

  • Windy Daley of Texas

    I quit consuming Sara Lee a long time ago–especially because of high fructose corn syrup.  However, I will never buy it again–as I do not believe that the products are healthy.  In my opinion, Sara Lee is only for profit, and doesn’t care about the health of the American people.  If they did care, they would never had added HFCs in the first place.  To me it’s processed poison. 

  • Laura

    If you ‘dump’ sugar what will the yeast eat?!? Real smart idea there!

    • SandyWT

      Laura, you don’t need sugar to bake bread. The carbohydrates in the flour will feed the yeast. Do you bake? You can also use a little honey or organic sugar to speed the results.
      Sara Lee products are extremely processed and should not be eaten by humans or animals. I would not even feed those products to the birds. Bake your own bread if you prefer bread. Real bread and rolls are delicious.