The real meaning of multigrain foods

The grocery store aisles are full of marketing jargon that's aimed at convincing the shopper they're getting a better tasting, healthier, and more environmentally-friendly product. From organic to cage-free, one practically needs a dictionary with them if they really want to understand all of these buzzwords. In particular, when it comes to breads, bagels, granola bars, and other baked goods, there is one word that pops up time and time again on labels — "multigrain."  

What exactly is multigrain though, and is it any different or better than "whole grain" or "whole wheat" labels? It's time to get to the bottom of this puzzling bread term. 

Multigrain isn't actually really anything all that special

In terms of food labels, there's a big difference between "whole grain" and "multigrain." According to The Kitchn, whole grain foods are made with the entire grain, rather than just the starchy endosperm (the greatest source of a grain's carbohydrates, according to Bread Culture) and are therefore a lot more nutritious in terms of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Multigrain, on the other hand, simply means that numerous types of grains were used. So those "multigrain" hamburger buns you bought could simply be made with three different types of white flour, with nary a single whole grain to be found. 

Oh, and as far as "whole wheat" is concerned, that's just the whole grain version of bread products made with wheat. 

Is it better to eat whole grain over multigrain?

If you're looking to buy the healthiest bread possible and it comes down to whole grain versus multigrain, you should choose whole grain every time. When you do that, you're getting the grain's bran, germ, and endosperm, so you're getting a product that is packed with nutrients.

According to the Mayo Clinic, you should look at the list of ingredients on the product you're buying and check for "whole oats," "whole wheat," and other "whole" ingredients. Multigrain foods may not include these "whole" ingredients. There's nothing wrong with eating multigrain breads, just don't let the label trick you into thinking that you're getting a solid source of fiber and minerals.