Friday, March 23, 2012

Multi-grain vs. Whole grain – What’s the Difference?

Nutrition Month Challenge Week 4 starts tomorrow!

More food companies than ever are advertising that their products are ‘made with whole grains’ or ‘multi-grain.’ It seems everything you find in the grocery aisle now contains whole grains. How do you choose which food is right for you?

Grains are the seeds of plants and contain three parts: bran, endosperm and germ. All three parts contain nutrients which are good for health. Bran is the outer layer of the grain and provides fibre and some B vitamins, minerals and protein. Endosperm makes up most of the grain and provides carbohydrate and protein along with a small amount of vitamins and minerals. The germ is the smallest part of the seed and contains a large amount of B vitamins, minerals and vitamin E.

Foods that have had little processing like brown rice, rolled oats and barley are whole grains and contain all three parts of the seed. Research shows that people who eat more whole grains may have a lower risk of some heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers. You will get the greatest health benefit from eating whole grains.

Refined grains have the bran and the germ removed from the seed. Some examples are white rice and cream of wheat. While many refined grains in Canada (like enriched white flour) have nutrients added back in, refined grains still have less nutrients and fibre than whole grains.

So what’s the difference between multi-grain and whole grain? Multi-grain products usually contain a few different grains, but they may not be whole grains. Your key to choosing whole grains in the grocery store is reading the ingredient list on food products. If whole grains are the main ingredient they will be listed as the first or second ingredient. To ensure you are getting whole grains look for the words whole grain in front of each grain name.

Following are three tips to help you get more whole grains:
- Try oatmeal made from rolled oats for breakfast.
- Use whole grain pasta. The nutty flavour is a tasty way to perk up your dish.
- Try a grain you have never eaten such as quinoa, bulgur, barley or couscous.

Our Challenge: This week compare bread labels at the grocery store and pick out the whole grain versus multi-grain. Remember, multi-grain isn’t always whole grain. You’ll get the greatest health benefits from eating whole grains. Take our challenge today and check us out on Facebook® ( share your results for your chance to win cool prizes. If you have food and nutrition questions you can also Ask A Dietitian by calling 1-800-905-0970.

For more Nutrition Month Myths and Facts visit 
Source: Accessed February 21, 2012.

Steph (Wheler) Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching