Whole Grain, Whole Wheat, Multigrain: What’s the Difference?

published Sep 12, 2012
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

We all know we should be consuming more whole grains and fewer products made from refined grains, but that doesn’t make the bread aisle any less confusing. Is multigrain the same as whole grain? And where does whole wheat fit in? Here’s a quick guide to these three common, sometimes confusing terms.

Whole grain means that all parts of the grain are used, including the nutritious germ and bran. Whole grains are higher in vitamins, minerals and fiber than refined grains, which are processed to remove all but the starchy endosperm.

Whole wheat is simply the whole grain version of wheat.

Multigrain means that more than one type of grain has been used, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that any of them are whole grains. So a bread labeled “multigrain” might actually be made from white flour, without any of the health benefits of whole grains.

To make sure the bread you are buying is made from whole grains, look at the label: whole wheat flour or whole grain flour should be among the first ingredients listed. Or look for the words “100% whole wheat” or “100% whole grain” on the package, which will ensure you aren’t accidentally buying a loaf of white bread masquerading as whole grain.