Busting Nutrition Myths: #3 – Multigrain and Whole Wheat are the Same

Happy Monday! I hope you guys had a good weekend and that all of the Hurricane Irma survivors’ lives are starting to get back to normal. I know it’s hard to get back into the swing of things after something like this, but where there’s a will there’s a way! So, grab your cup of coffee and let’s talk grains.

So you’re standing in line at the Publix deli ordering a sub, and they ask what kind of bread you want…white, whole wheat, or multigrain. You heard on TV that you’re not supposed to eat white bread, so that is out of the question. Now, what about the other two? I mean the whole wheat is brown, so that must mean it’s healthy…but the multigrain has a bunch of yummy looking seeds. Seeds are healthy, right? Sure, multigrain it is! Unfortunately, little do most people know there is a major difference between multigrain and whole wheat, and it comes down to the kernel. So, hold on tight because things are about to get scientific!

A grain of wheat is made up of three parts: the bran, germ, and endosperm. The bran is the outermost layer that contains most of the kernel’s vitamins and fiber. The germ is the middle layer full of healthy fat, some protein, and a few vitamins. Lastly, the endosperm is the innermost portion that contains most of the kernel’s carbohydrate stores. Thus when you buy whole wheat bread, you are buying bread that naturally contains all three parts of the wheat grain, which is a good thing! That means you are getting all of the nutrients you possibly can from the grain. I’d also like to add that this is applicable to any bread that says “whole grain”. The only difference is that the grain the bread is made out of may not be wheat. It could be spelt, oats, etc. So, eating whole grain bread supports a healthy lifestyle, too.

Now, multigrain is a little different. Multigrain simply means that the bread contains many (multi) grains. By no means does this ensure the bread is made of whole grains. Most likely, it is made out of “refined” grains, which means one or all of the grain’s three portions have been removed. This takes away much of the nutritional value. Funny story…when this method first became popular, it led to many nutritional deficiencies, so the government ordered that refined grain products be “enriched”. This means companies literally add SOME of the vitamins and minerals back into the bread. What’s even worse is they add the nutrients in different amounts than were naturally found in the grain! Thus, we end up with the white bread and white rice you find on grocery store shelves.

Okay, so how do I know I am getting whole grain or whole wheat bread? I should just look for the brown loaf, right? Ha, nope. A lot of companies pray on this common belief, so they simply add caramel color to the white bread to make it brown. The only way you can ensure you are getting the entire grain and its nutrients is by reading the nutrition label. The first words should be “whole wheat flour”, “whole oat flour”, or the word “whole” and whatever grain the bread is made out of. I’d also check the nutrition label to make sure there are at least 2 grams of fiber and no more than 3 grams of sugar per slice of bread. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread – 60 calories/slice
  • Nature’s Own 100% Whole Grain Bread (its a little softer than the whole wheat version) – 60 calories/slice
  • Dave’s Killer Bread Thin Sliced 21 Whole Grains and Seeds – 60 calories/slice
  • Eureka! Grainiac Bread – 70 calories/slice

 

Take Aways:

  • Whole wheat is NOT the same as multigrain, and just because its brown doesn’t mean it’s healthy!
  • Choose breads that have “whole wheat flour”, “whole oat flour”, or “whole ‘insert grain here’ flour” as the first ingredient.
  • Aim for 2 grams or more of fiber and 3 grams or less of sugar per slice.

Resources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/multigrain/faq-20057867

https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/whats-whole-grain-refined-grain

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