What’s the Difference Between Multigrain, Whole Grain, and Whole Wheat?

When you walk down the bakery aisle at the store you’ll be confronted with a ton of different terminology simply for one brown loaf of bread. You’ll see multigrain, whole grain, and whole wheat bread, but what is the difference between these types of bread (and other food products), if any? And which is actually best for you? 

What is Multigrain? 

Multigrain means that multiple types of grain have been used to make that food product, though they do not have to be whole grains. You’ll also see variations of multigrain with terms like “seven grain”. 

What is Whole Grain? 

Whole grain means that all parts of the kernel are used; the germ, bran, and endosperm, as well as some other whole grains like oats and barley. Whole grain is generally a more healthy option than other food products available (such as white bread) as it contains more fiber and nutrients. When we include all three parts of the kernel it takes our bodies much longer to digest, thus keeping us fuller for longer. Wholegrain is easy to spot because it has “bits” (often oats and other grains and seeds) in it. 

What is Whole Wheat? 

Whole wheat also contains all three parts of the kernel but doesn’t include other forms of grain. 

Which Form is the Healthiest? 

Generally, all three types of bread are comparable, but you’ll need to look at the label to be sure. Look at the label and see how much of the bread is made with whole grains; you want to see a “100% stamp” or the word “whole” used liberally – and ideally not just in the marketing on the packaging. 

Why are These Forms Better for You Than White Bread?

White bread is highly processed, so even when the number of calories appears to be less on the packaging, what it’s made up of is nowhere near as good as a loaf of whole grain and is often packed with sugar. Wholegrain and whole wheat bread contains lots of fiber, slow-release energy, and nutrients which are great for your health. Many studies have linked the consumption of whole grains with better heart health, brain function, a reduction in the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and stroke. 

Which Should I Choose? 

Choose whichever whole grain or wheat bread you like best – as long as it contains 100% whole grains, you can’t go wrong, whether it says multigrain, whole grain, or whole wheat on the packaging. Keep an eye on the levels of added sugar in some products and look for the highest levels of fiber, but otherwise you really won’t go wrong with 100% whole grain products.