Strolling the aisle at the grocery store can quickly leave you confused with all of the different bread options. With whole grain, whole wheat, multigrain, 7-grain, and 12-grain options available it can be tough to know which is best and which to choose. While most people would agree that multigrain and whole wheat sound like good options, it begs the question, are they in fact? And if so, which one is the best option, whole wheat, whole grain, or multigrain?
Whole Wheat vs. Whole Grain vs. Multigrain
Grain kernels are made up of three different parts; the fiber-dense bran, the nutrient-rich germ, and the starchy endosperm. A grain can be made into flour one of two ways; by grinding the whole grain, all parts intact, or by removing the bran and germ. Depending on how a grain is processed into flour, and which parts of the kernel remain, different types of flour are created and then used to make different types of bread.
What is whole-grain bread?
Whole grain bread is made from whole grain flour. This means, the endosperm, bran, and germ were intact, and nothing was removed when the grain was milled into flour. Whole grain bread can be made from a variety of different types of grains, such as wheat, rye, barley, millet, or oats, etc, as the type of grain is not specified, it just means the grain was whole when the flour was made.
What is whole wheat bread?
Whole wheat bread is whole grain bread. However, instead of using any grain, or a combination of grains, whole wheat bread is specific to wheat flour, as the wheat grain was intact (endosperm, bran, and germ) when it was milled into flour.
What is multigrain bread?
Multigrain bread is simply defined as bread made from multiple types of grains, but it does not necessarily mean it was made from whole-grain flour. For instance, multigrain bread can be made of the flours of multiple types of grains (wheat, rye, barley, millet, oats, etc), however, the flours themselves may have been refined flours, as they did not contain the endosperm, bran, and germ when the grains were milled into the flour. Multigrain bread can be made of any number of grains, so whether bread is labeled “5-grain” “7-grain” or “12-grain”, they are all considered multigrain bread. Unless otherwise specified as whole grain, sprouted grain, or sourdough, one can assume that multigrain bread is made of refined flour.
What is the healthiest choice?
Generally speaking, whole grain options are best since they are a source of fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants. However, how the bread is made is equally as important as the flour it was made from. Bread may be made with whole-grain flour, but if it also contains food additives and preservatives it is a less-than-ideal choice. When it comes to bread, sourdough and sprouted grain bread will always be the best option, so it is really important to read the label and the ingredients so you know exactly what you are getting.