Food Fight: Multigrain vs. Whole Wheat Bread

Terms like “whole wheat” and “multigrain” are often used interchangeably, but they aren't actually the same thing. Here’s a closer look into each and our food fight winner in this battle.

Oat topped whole grain bread.

©2008 Sharon Day

2008 Sharon Day

Terms like “whole wheat” and “multi-grain” are often used interchangeably, but they aren't actually the same thing. Here’s a closer look into each, plus the winner of this food fight.

Understanding Whole Grains

Before delving into this battle, we need to settle on the term whole grain. All grains are made of 3 parts: the large endosperm (with protein and carbs), the germ (with fat and B-vitamins) and the outer bran (with fiber and vitamins). When a food is labeled as 100% whole grain, this means that the entire grain (all 3 parts) is left intact. When the food is refined or milled (like in white bread), this means the bran and most of the germ has been removed during processing.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that at least half the grain you consume daily should come from whole grains. To do so, choose 100% whole grain over refined bread varieties.

Multigrain

When bread is labeled as “multigrain” it means it’s made from multiple (or many) types of grains. When browsing through the bread aisle, you’ll come across 7-grain, 9-grain and even 12-grain bread. But don’t be duped by smart marketing-- more grains don’t mean it’s healthier or even whole grain. Read the fine print (the nutrition facts panel and ingredient list) and make sure those grains are WHOLE grains and that the bread has at least 3 grams of fiber per slice. Some companies will market their bread as “multigrain” but use numerous refined or processed grains giving you not much fiber or nutritional benefit over white bread.

Whole-Wheat Bread

The same deal goes for whole wheat bread. You must read the label to make sure it’s made from whole grain. Some bread manufacturer’s will label a bread a “wheat” but may only use part of the grain to make the bread. Look for the words “100% whole wheat” in the ingredient list and make sure the fiber is up to par (at least 3 grams per slice).

Healthy Eats Winner: The result of this food fight is a dead even tie. Whether choosing multigrain or whole wheat bread, you need to read the ingredient list to make sure you’re REALLY getting whole grains.

TELL US: Who gets your vote: multigrain or whole wheat bread?
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