Chances are, you've see a wide variety of foods on grocery shelves labeled multigrain, whole-grain or whole-wheat. Is there a difference between the 3 types? We all know we should be consuming more whole-grain products over refined grains. However, with so many different names, how do we know how to make the healthiest decision? Is whole-grain the same as multigrain? Is whole wheat in any way related?
Multigrain products can get confusing at times because there are no standardized regulations. The label "multigrain" is used when the package contains more than one type of grain. The grain could be refined, bleached and processed which may remove many nutritional benefits but still have a "multigrain" label. However, this does not necessarily mean the product is bad for you. Read the ingredient list and if it says quinoa, barley and whole wheat, it is a healthy product made with a variety of whole grains.
Whole-Grain products are made using the whole-grain kernel with the bran, germ and endosperm intact. Having all these parts intact increases vitamin, mineral and fiber content. Wheat, barley, flax, oat and rice are all varieties of whole grains. If a product label states "bread made with whole grain", this may mean a minimal amount.
Whole-Wheat is made from the entire whole-wheat kernel. Whole-wheat is a type of whole-grain. The endosperm and bran are left intact also leading to increased vitamin, mineral and fiber content. 100% wheat and 100% whole wheat may be different. 100% wheat may mean parts of the grains are missing, which falsely advertises a 100% whole-wheat product.
The labels "multigrain" and "wheat" have been very appealing to consumers as a healthy choices. However, those words alone can be very misleading. First, look for the word "whole" first rather than any other word. Next, read the ingredient list and make sure "wheat wheat" or "whole grain" are the first ingredients. It is common to find enriched white flour at the beginning of an ingredient list. Overall, it is best to choose whole products over refined products because of the nutritious benefits.