Whole Grain vs. Whole Wheat vs. Multi Grain

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between whole grain vs. whole wheat vs. multi grain?  Do you wonder if that whole wheat bread is as good as the whole grain bread?  It can be confusing when trying to make the most nutritious choice at the grocery store.  Here is the scoop.

Think of a grain as containing three parts.  There is the bran, the endosperm, and the germ.  Let’s make that a bit simpler and call it the outside (bran), the middle (endosperm), and the inside (germ).  When grains are processed into things like white rice or white flour, the part that you get in your food is the middle.  Whole grains, on the other hand, include all three parts of the grain, or the “whole” grain – not just the middle.

Why is this important?  The inside of the grain is loaded with nutrients including vitamin E and is a good source of fiber.  The outside of the grain is also packed with nutrients and fiber.  Both the inside and outside of the grain include antioxidants and essential fatty acids.  By eating foods made from whole grains, you are including the benefits of these two important parts of the grain.  In fact, around 50% of these healthful benefits of whole grain will be lost if only the middle is used.
How about whole wheat? This term simply means that the outside, middle, and inside of the wheat grain was used in the product.  Wheat is just one of several types of grain.  That means that whole wheatis a whole grain – nutrients and fiber included.  The key is the term “whole”.
That brings us to multi grain.  Well, this is simply a term used to tell you that more than one grain was used in the food.  It has little to do with whether those grains are whole grains or not, so be wary of this term.  Check the label to see what it is actually made of and if whole grains were used.

Now that you understand the basic differences, make sure you find ways to add whole grain to your diet and get the benefits of this healthy food.

Lessons Learned:
  • there are three parts to a grain with many of the nutrients and fiber in the inside and outside
  • whole grains include all three parts while processed grains include only the middle
  • whole wheat is a type of whole grain
  • multi grain just means multiple grains, not necessarily whole grains

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