What’s Healthier: Multigrain or Wholegrain?

Grains; they’re great for us, right?

Unprocessed, fibrous and brill for healthy digestion, but the question that is rarely asked is which is healthiest: multigrain’ or wholegrain? Or – curveball – is it all marketing babble and grains are just, well, grains?

It’s time we found out the truth! Take a look at the healthiest way you should be consuming your grains, here.

Cereals Grains Healthy Muesli Oatmeal

Multigrain v Wholegrain

Definition

Despite both having the same base part (grains!) the way they are made up is very different.

‘Wholegrain’ means that all parts of the grain kernel are used. This includes the bran, germ and endosperm (lol, sperm).

‘Multigrain’ means exactly how it sounds.  There are multiple grains, but none of them need to be wholegrains, necessarily.

Nutrition

Wholegrains are complete grains, so they contain all the essential nutrients, including fibre, B vitamins (thiamin,riboflavin, niacin and folate) and minerals (iron, magnesium and selenium).

As multigrains are invariably incomplete grains, the nutrient density is more hit and miss than that of a wholegrain. You might get some of the nutrients found in the whole grain, and perhaps plenty of one type of nutrient and not enough of another.

Marketing

Labelling something ‘wholegrain’ is a statement which is controlled by food governing bodies. So, unlike with the label ‘natural’, it has to incorporate the whole of the grain for it to be labelled so.

Related: The difference between organic and natural foods 

Now think of all the foods which label themselves as containing grains. Which ones are telling you they’re multi or wholegrain? When you start really looking at the foreword of the compound you will understand what marketing companies are tricking you into.

A brief look at Tesco’s offering shows you multigrains are prolific in kids cereals and crackers, whilst wholegrains are most popular for rice products such as microwave rice and rice cakes.


Multigrain products are not necessarily inferior to wholegrain products, however it does pay to look at which types of grains are included. Those products which include more varieties of grains, the better, i.e. it’s not simply marketing hype. Examples of good grains include barley flour, wheat flour and oat flour.

Wholegrain products don’t always tell you the main grain on the front packaging. Take a look at the ingredients on the back to see if it’s whole wheat, whole oats, or similar. Any product claiming it as multi or wholegrain should certainly feature grains within their top three ingredients. If it doesn’t, pop it back on the shelf and move on.

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