To health-conscious shoppers, “multigrain” and “wholegrain” may sound equally nutritious, but this is not necessarily the case.

If a product is labeled as multigrain, this simply means that it contains more than one type of grain. Unfortunately, the presence of multiple grains does not guarantee nutrition.

For example, a loaf of bread may boast the term “multigrain,” but this could simply mean that the bread contains multiple types of  flours–such as wheat, rye, or barley–that have been refined and therefore stripped of their nutritional benefits.

In other words, “multigrain” indicates the quantity of grains (two or more) as opposed the quality.

On the other hand, “whole grain” indicates that the grains themselves are whole and haven’t been stripped of their nutrient-dense parts (the bran and the germ).

This is why products labeled as “whole grain” are likely the healthier choice.

This not not mean that you should dismiss multigrain products altogether. A simple scan of the product’s ingredients will indicate whether the grains are refined or not. Consider the following two ingredient lists:

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PC Blue Menu Pretzel Braids

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PC Blue Menu Whole Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix

The “multigrain blend” referred to in the Pretzel Braids label is composed of flours that are likely refined, given that they are not explicitly listed as “whole grain,” as in the label of the waffle mix.

The take away? Read the label carefully, because when a company has used whole grains to make their product, they’ll want to tell you about it.

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