The Difference between Multi Grain and Whole Wheat… and a little more

Bread has got to be one of the most confusing products to buy in the supermarket.  And the food manufacturers LOVE that!  Confusing us is what they do best.  Let’s take some time to educate ourselves on the two breads that seem to produce the most confusion:

Multi Grain vs. Whole Wheat


Multi Grain Breads:

Multi grain is just that, several grains.  It can be 3, 5, 7 or as high as 12 different grains, one of which may not even be wheat.  Some common grains are buckwheat, flax, millet to name just a few.  Now here’s the tricky part, this is where you need to check the label.  The term multi grain does not necessarily mean they used whole grain to make it.  It only means it contains several types of grains.

For example, let’s take a look at Brownberry’s Whole Grain Classics


Ingredients: Whole Wheat Flour, Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Reduced Iron, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Water, Yeast, Wheat Gluten, Sugar, Brown Rice, Cornmeal, Oats, Wheat Bran, Cellulose Fiber, Soybean Oil, Black & White Sesame Seeds, Salt, Molasses, Monoglycerides, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Calcium Carbonate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Datem, Poppy Seeds, Sucralose, Soy Lecithin, Azodicarbonamide, Nuts (Walnuts and/or Hazelnuts and/or Almonds), Whey, Nonfat Milk.

This bread not only doesn’t contain 100% whole grains, it has enriched wheat flour it in and it also contains some controversial artificial sweeteners like sucralose.  Not a good choice and very misleading!

Let’s look at Nature’s Own Healthy Multi Grain


Ingerdients: Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Wheat Gluten, Yeast, Brown Sugar, Sugar, Whole Rolled Wheat, Honey, Contains 2% or Less of Each of the Following: Yellow Cornmeal, Whole Rye Nuggets, Degermed Yellow Corn Grits, Rolled Oats, Salt, Raisin Juice Concentrate, Soybean Oil, Whole Rye Flakes, Whole Triticale Flakes, Cultured Wheat Flour, Vinegar, Parboiled Brown Rice, Whole Barley Flakes, Whole Millet, Defatted Soy Grits, Calcium Sulfate, Soy Lecithin, Flax Seed, Enzymes, Topped with White Sesame Seeds, Black Sesame Seeds and Poppy Seeds.

This bread uses whole wheat flour and no artificial sweeteners.  It has rye, barley, millet and is considered a Top Pick according to FooducateLook out for words like enriched when choosing your bread.  It is a sure sign to put it back on the shelf!

Whole Wheat Breads:

Bread that contains wheat.  It is made with whole grain flour that contains all the component parts of the grain of wheat.  Unless the package says “whole wheat” you are most likely getting a MIX of wheat flour and enriched flours.

Let’s stay with Nature’s Own and look at one of their Whole Wheat breads:


Ingredients: Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Brown Sugar, Wheat Gluten, Yeast, Contains 2% or Less of Each of the Following: Raisin Juice Concentrate, Salt, Soybean Oil, Cultured Wheat Flour, Vinegar, Soy Lecithin, Calcium Sulfate, Enzymes, Wheat Starch, Topping Mixture (Wheat Cuts, Wheat Flakes, Wheat Bran, Flaxseed).

Again, it’s important to look at labels.  While researching just whole wheat breads I noticed a big difference in manufacturers.  The lower end ones still like to use controversial artificial sweeteners and refined oils.  Choose a higher quality, preferably organic variety.

I hope this helps with some of the confusion!

Want to learn more?  Check out The Whole Grains Council – Whole Grains 101



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