The Whole Story on Whole Grains
On the back of your bread-based products, you may find the words whole grain, whole wheat, or multigrain. Upon first inspection, these terms may seem interchangeable. When shopping for your weekly grocery haul, there’s no knead to panic. Below, learn the chief differences between these grain types so you can get the bread you bargained for.
A grain is a small, dried seed in the grass family. Some general grains include wheat, rice, and corn. However, just as we may group a tomato as a vegetable despite it being a fruit botanically, the same is true for some grains derived from flowering plants like quinoa and millet. Both the pseudo-grain kernels and genuine grain kernels are built by three components. The seed has a fibrous outer skin called the bran. It also has a nutrient-packed germ, which contains the embryo that can sprout into a new plant. There is also the endosperm, which is the starchy middle layer that makes up the largest part of the kernel and is the germ’s food supply.
For packaged food to be considered whole grain, the grain kernel itself does not need to be whole, meaning that it’s in one piece. However, all three parts of the kernel must be present in the same proportion. Whole grain foods are healthy because they contain all the nutrients, fiber, and compounds in the kernel itself. Pick products that indicate that they are 100% whole grain for the maximum benefits.
Whole wheat products are also healthy selections, and this designation indicates that the entire wheat kernel is incorporated into the product. Whole wheat specifies the type of kernel being used, and in this case, that would be the wheat.
The moniker multigrain isn’t as widely understood. Multigrain means that the product contains more than one kind of grain. However, it doesn’t mean that they are whole grains. They can be whole, but they may as easily be a mix of refined grains, which could be less nutritious. If you just see the multigrain label on a product, obtain more information from the nutrition facts to ensure you’re also getting the benefit of whole grain.
No matter how you slice it, there isn’t a crumby choice when buying these bread-based items fresh from your local bakery.