Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Is Raisin Bread Bad For You?



Short answer

Raisin bread can be a nutritious component of your diet in moderation. It offers dietary fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals. However, many commercial varieties come with added sugars and preservatives, which may negatively impact health. Whole-grain options provide more nutrients and have a lower glycemic index, making them a healthier choice. Always check labels for added sugars and pair with proteins or healthy fats to balance blood sugar levels. Homemade options with natural sweeteners and whole grains are ideal for a health-conscious diet.



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Long answer

Sugar Content in Raisin Bread

When evaluating the nutritional profile of raisin bread, sugar content is a key factor to consider. While raisins are a natural source of sugar, providing the bread with sweetness, many commercial varieties of raisin bread also include added sugars to enhance the flavor. The sugar content in a typical slice of raisin bread can vary widely but is generally between 5 to 10 grams per slice.

Consuming too much sugar can have a range of health consequences. Consistently high intakes may lead to weight gain, increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and dental cavities. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) per day for men and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day for women. Therefore, it's important for consumers to read labels and choose raisin bread with the lowest amount of added sugars, or opt for brands that use natural sweeteners, which may have a less dramatic impact on blood sugar levels.

Here's a table that breaks down the average sugar content of common raisin bread brands:

Brand Sugar per Slice (grams)
Brand A 8
Brand B 5
Brand C (No Added Sugar) 3
Homemade (With Added Sweetener) 6-10 (depending on the recipe)

Glycemic Index of Raisin Bread

The glycemic index (GI) measures how much a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose. Foods are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100, with pure glucose being 100. Foods with a high GI (>70) are rapidly digested and absorbed, triggering a swift rise in blood sugar and insulin levels. In contrast, low-GI foods (<55) promote a slower release of sugar into the bloodstream, which can help with glycemic control.

Raisin bread is typically classified as a medium-GI food, with a GI score ranging from 56 to 69. However, this can vary based on the specific product, preparation processes, and ingredients used. For instance, bread made with whole grains and without added sugars can have a lower GI than bread made with refined flours and high sugar content.

Individuals with diabetes or those watching their blood sugar levels should be aware of the GI of raisin bread. Pairing a slice with a source of protein or healthy fats can help lower the overall GI of a meal, thus mitigating spikes in blood glucose.

For those concerned with the glycemic response, here is a list with GI modifications:

  • Choose whole-grain raisin bread over those made with refined flour.
  • Check for added sugars in the ingredient list – the fewer, the better.
  • Combine raisin bread with healthy fats (like avocado) or proteins (like almond butter) to reduce the glycemic load.
  • Be mindful of portion sizes to manage blood sugar levels more effectively.

Research indicates that diets with low glycemic indexes can be associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases. Understanding GI and making informed decisions about raisin bread can thus be part of a balanced and health-conscious diet.

Raisin Bread: Whole Grain vs. Refined Flour Varieties

When assessing the health impacts of raisin bread, one crucial distinction to consider is whether the product is made from whole grain or refined flour. Both types offer a sweet and satisfying experience, but there are some important differences in their nutritional profiles and health implications.

Whole Grain Raisin Bread:

  • Nutritional Benefits: Whole grain raisin bread retains all parts of the grain kernel, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. This means it’s rich in dietary fiber, which aids digestion and can help lower cholesterol levels. Moreover, it contains more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients than its refined counterpart. The presence of whole grains has been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
  • Glycemic Index: Foods made from whole grains generally have a lower glycemic index (GI). A lower GI indicates slower digestion and absorption, leading to a more gradual increase in blood sugar levels. This is particularly beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those looking to manage their blood sugar levels more effectively.
  • Satiety and Weight Management: Thanks to the higher fiber content, whole grain raisin bread can contribute to a feeling of fullness, which may prevent overeating and support weight management goals.

Refined Flour Raisin Bread:

  • Nutritional Drawbacks: Refined flour varieties of raisin bread lack the nutrient-rich bran and germ found in whole grains. During the refining process, important nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals are significantly reduced. Manufacturers may enrich the flour with some nutrients, like B vitamins and iron, but the bread still falls short of the complete nutritional profile offered by whole grains.
  • Glycemic Index: Raisin bread made from refined flour typically has a higher glycemic index, leading to quicker spikes in blood sugar levels. This can be a concern for individuals with insulin resistance or those trying to manage their blood sugar levels.
  • Caloric Density and Additives: Refined flour raisin bread may also be denser in calories and often contains added sugars and preservatives to enhance flavor and shelf life, which may not align with a health-conscious diet.

In summary, while both whole grain and refined flour raisin breads have their place in the world of bakery delights, the whole grain varieties clearly stand out for their superior nutritional benefits. Selecting whole grain raisin bread can contribute positively to one’s diet, offering a more balanced approach to indulging in this tasty treat.

Current dietary guidelines emphasize the importance of whole grains in a healthy diet, and studies, such as those by the American Heart Association, consistently highlight the long-term health benefits associated with whole grains, making them a preferred choice for health-conscious consumers.

Preservatives and Additives in Commercial Raisin Bread

Commercial raisin bread can often contain a number of preservatives and additives to extend shelf life, improve taste, and achieve desired texture. It's important to understand the impact of these substances on health as consumers seek out options in their daily diet.

Common Preservatives

  • Calcium propionate: Frequently used as a mold inhibitor in bread, calcium propionate is deemed safe by the FDA when used at prescribed levels. However, some studies suggest that it might contribute to irritability, restlessness, sleep disturbances, and headaches in some individuals, although further research is needed to confirm these findings.
  • Sorbic acid: Another mold inhibitor, sorbic acid can cause skin, eye, and respiratory tract irritation, and allergy-like reactions in sensitive individuals, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Popular Additives

  • Monoglycerides and Diglycerides: These emulsifiers are fats that help to keep the texture of the bread consistent and soft. They are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA, yet some sources of these additives may be derived from hydrogenated oils, containing trans fats which are associated with heart disease.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): Often used as a sweetener, HFCS has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease when consumed in high quantities. The American Heart Association advises caution and recommends limiting added sugars in your diet.

Artificial Flavors and Colorants

  • Artificial flavors: These are synthesized chemicals designed to mimic natural flavors and are widely used in food products. While they are considered safe by regulatory agencies, there is ongoing debate and research regarding their long-term health effects.
  • Artificial colorants: Synthetic dyes are often added to enhance the visual appeal of foods. Some artificial colors have been controversial due to links to hyperactivity in children and potential carcinogenic effects, with more studies needed to confirm these possible risks.

It's crucial for individuals, especially those with sensitivities, to read labels carefully and consider the potential health impacts of preservatives and additives in commercial raisin bread. Seeking out products with fewer artificial ingredients and preservatives may be a more health-conscious choice. Whenever possible, it's beneficial to opt for raisin breads that use natural preservatives such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and are free from HFCS and trans fats, to minimize health risks while still enjoying this tasty treat.

Expert Opinions

Nutritionists often emphasize the importance of whole, minimally processed foods in our diet. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), consuming foods that contain unnecessary additives, like certain preservatives and artificial colorants, should be done cautiously, as the long-term effects are not fully understood. Dieticians suggest that individuals with allergies or sensitivities could experience reactions to some additives, and thus, should be vigilant about ingredient lists.

When assessing the safety of preservatives and additives in raisin bread, it's imperative to consult the latest scientific literature, expert analysis, and regulatory standards. This approach helps ensure you are making informed dietary choices that align with your specific health needs and concerns. Transparent, evidence-based guidance is a cornerstone for making educated decisions about the bread products one chooses to consume.

Nutritional Value: Fiber, Vitamins, and Minerals

When evaluating the nutritional impact of raisin bread on your diet, it is important to assess its content of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These components play a crucial role in maintaining good health, and their presence in foods can enhance the overall nutritional profile.

Fiber Content

Raisin bread is typically made from a combination of whole wheat or white flour and sweetened with raisins. The presence of whole grains and raisins increases the fiber content of the bread. Dietary fiber is essential for digestive health, helping to regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation. A slice of whole-grain raisin bread can contain between 1 to 2 grams of fiber, contributing to the daily recommended intake of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. However, it's important to check the label, as fiber content can vary widely depending on the brand and specific recipe used.


Raisin bread often contains a spectrum of B vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. These vitamins play an important role in energy metabolism by helping your body convert food into fuel. They are also critical for brain function, and folate, in particular, is important for pregnant women to support fetal development. Depending on the fortification process the bread has undergone, some vitamin levels may be higher, particularly in bread made with enriched flour.


Raisins are naturally high in certain minerals such as potassium, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy blood pressure, and iron, which is necessary for transporting oxygen in the blood. Raisin bread also typically contains small amounts of calcium and magnesium. Mineral content can be especially higher in breads made with added nuts and seeds.

In summary, the fiber, vitamins, and minerals in raisin bread can contribute positively to your nutritional intake. However, it is important to examine the product label for detailed information on these nutrients and consider them within the context of your overall diet. Portion size and frequency of consumption are also key factors to consider, as eating raisin bread in excess can lead to an increased intake of added sugars and calories.

To conclude this section, while raisin bread can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation, it is crucial to choose varieties that maximize the potential nutritional benefits, such as those made from whole grains and with limited added sugars. Always pair it with a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats to ensure a well-rounded nutrient intake.

Balancing Raisin Bread in a Healthy Diet

Integrating raisin bread into a healthy diet requires understanding its nutritional context and recognizing moderation as key. This bread variant combines the wholesome properties of bread with the natural sweetness of raisins, offering a mix of nutrients beneficial for health when consumed in appropriate amounts.

Nutritional Breakdown

  • Fiber Content: Raisin bread contains dietary fiber from both the flour and the raisins, contributing positively to digestive health.
  • Natural Sugars: The raisins within the bread provide natural sugars, which can offer a quick energy supply. However, excess consumption may lead to a higher caloric intake and potential weight gain.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Raisins are a source of iron, potassium, and antioxidants, which are vital for bodily functions and overall health. Enriched flour in the bread may also add nutrients like folic acid and other B vitamins.

Serving Size Considerations

To balance raisin bread in your diet, be mindful of the portion size. A single slice of raisin bread typically contains more calories and sugar than regular bread, so sticking to one slice at a time may be advisable, especially if you are monitoring your sugar intake or managing your weight.

Combining with Healthy Fats and Proteins

When enjoying raisin bread, pairing it with proteins and healthy fats can help balance the meal's nutritional profile and stabilize blood sugar levels. Consider topping a slice with:

  • Cottage cheese or Greek yogurt for a boost of protein.
  • Natural almond or peanut butter for healthy fats and additional protein.
  • Avocado slices for heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

Incorporating Raisin Bread into Balanced Meals

If raisin bread is a favorite, strive to include it as part of a balanced meal. This can be accomplished by ensuring that the other components of the meal are rich in:

  • Lean proteins (e.g., chicken breast, legumes, tofu).
  • Complex carbohydrates (e.g., quinoa, sweet potatoes, vegetables).
  • Healthy fats (e.g., olive oil, nuts, seeds).

By doing so, you can enjoy raisin bread without compromising the quality of your diet or nutrient intake.

Consider the Glycemic Index (GI)

Raisin bread has a medium glycemic index, meaning it can raise blood sugar levels moderately. Individuals with blood sugar sensitivities, such as those with diabetes, may need to be more cautious and consult with a healthcare provider before incorporating it regularly into their diet.

Making Healthier Choices

Opting for whole-grain raisin bread, which has more fiber and nutrients than versions made with refined flour, can be a healthier choice. Additionally, checking the ingredient list for added sugars and preservatives is crucial—selecting a brand with minimal additives supports a cleaner diet.


Remember that high-fiber content in raisin bread may require increased water intake to aid digestion. Staying well-hydrated is an important aspect of any dietary pattern, particularly when consuming fiber-rich foods.

Ultimately, raisin bread can fit into a healthy diet when consumed wisely. Paying attention to serving sizes, combining it with nutritious complements, and choosing a whole-grain variety can elevate its value in a nutritious eating plan.

Healthier Homemade Raisin Bread Alternatives

When it comes to indulging in the sweet richness of raisin bread, many store-bought options can be packed with added sugars and preservatives. That’s not to say raisin bread is off-limits for those seeking healthier choices. By creating your own homemade version, you control the ingredients and can boost the nutritional profile significantly. The following ideas aim to guide you in making a healthier raisin bread, whether you're an accomplished baker or new to the world of homemade bread.

Reducing Added Sugars: One primary concern with raisin bread is the high content of added sugars. Consider naturally sweetening your bread by increasing the raisin content, which provides natural fructose. Alternately, you can use a touch of honey, maple syrup, or mashed ripe banana for a sweet flavor without the need for refined sugars.

Whole Grain Flour: Swap out white, refined flour for whole grain alternatives to increase the fiber content of your bread. Whole wheat, spelt, or einkorn flours are great choices, as they also contribute additional nutrients like B vitamins and iron. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that increased intake of whole grains is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, which makes this a crucial swap for health-conscious bakers.

Add Nuts and Seeds: Introduce a variety of nuts and seeds to your raisin bread recipe. Ingredients like walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, or pumpkin seeds not only provide crunch and flavor but also offer healthy fats, protein, and fiber, making your bread more satiating and nutritionally dense.

Portion Control: When making homemade raisin bread, consider fashioning individual rolls or mini-loaf sizes. This approach helps with portion control and reduces the temptation to overeat. It's a simple way to enjoy your baked goods mindfully.

Fermentation: Experiment with sourdough fermentation when making your raisin bread, as the natural fermentation process may help to reduce the bread’s phytic acid content, which in turn can improve the availability of nutrients. Sourdough also has a lower glycemic index compared to breads made with commercial yeast, as noted by research in the Journal of Nutrition & Metabolism.

Dairy and Egg Substitutions: If you're aiming for a vegan or lower-cholesterol option, you can substitute the dairy and eggs commonly found in raisin bread recipes. Plant-based milk and flax or chia eggs can work wonderfully without sacrificing texture or taste while providing additional fiber and heart-healthy fats.

To conclude, with a few thoughtful substitutions and techniques, you can transform the classic raisin bread into a wholesome, nutrient-rich food that complements a balanced diet. The key is to focus on ingredients that improve the health profile of the bread, without compromising on taste and enjoyment. Remember, moderation is also important even with healthier versions. Enjoy your homemade raisin bread as part of an overall nutritious eating plan.

Frequently asked questions

Raisin bread can be included in a diabetic diet if consumed mindfully, considering its medium glycemic index. Choosing a whole grain variety, watching portion sizes, and pairing it with a source of protein or healthy fats can help to mitigate blood sugar spikes. However, individuals with diabetes should consult their healthcare provider for personalized dietary advice.

Raisin bread typically has a higher calorie content compared to regular bread due to the added sugars from both the raisins and any potential added sweeteners. It is important for individuals monitoring caloric intake or managing weight to be aware of serving sizes and opt for no added sugar varieties.

Homemade raisin bread can be healthier than store-bought versions as it allows for control over ingredients, enabling the reduction of added sugars and the elimination of preservatives and artificial additives. Using whole grain flour and natural sweeteners can also enhance the nutritional profile of the homemade bread.

When choosing a healthier raisin bread, look for products with whole grain flour listed as the primary ingredient, the presence of minimal added sugars, absence of high fructose corn syrup, and limited artificial preservatives and additives. Additionally, seek bread with a considerable amount of dietary fiber per slice.

Ask a question about Raisin Bread and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • increased blood sugar levels
  • insulin spikes
  • possible digestive discomfort

Possible long-term side effects

  • weight gain
  • increased risk of type 2 diabetes
  • dental cavities
  • potential for cardiovascular issues
  • insulin resistance

Ingredients to be aware of


  • source of dietary fiber
  • contains vitamins and minerals
  • can aid in digestive health
  • may include antioxidants
  • potentially lower gi when whole grain

Healthier alternatives

  • whole-grain raisin bread
  • bread with natural sweeteners
  • homemade raisin bread with reduced sugars and wholesome ingredients
  • bread with natural preservatives

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Mestemacher Whole Grain Bread

  • Organic whole rye
  • Rich in whole grains
  • High in fiber
  • Preservative-free
  • Bulk pack of 6
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-26-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-26-2024

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