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With the market being bombarded with a variety of options for your nutritional requirements, it can become extremely difficult to make the right choice. Even something as basic as bread now comes in a plethora of variants – from honey oatmeal to multigrain bread.

People only want what’s best for them and their families. The eternal question is: what is better? Is there a nutritional difference among the variants? And the biggest one of them all: what to put in your grocery bag - whole wheat or multigrain bread?

  1. Is there a difference?
  2. Benefits of whole wheat bread
  3. Is multigrain as healthy as whole wheat?
  4. Why you should pick wholewheat over multigrain
  5. Takeaway

A common misconception is that these two terms - whole wheat and multigrain - are interchangeable. Whole grain means that all parts of the grain kernel — the bran, germ and endosperm — are used. 

In contrast, multigrain means that a food contains more than one type of grain, although none of them may necessarily be whole grains. Read on to know the differences between the two variants of your daily bread.

When we purchase a packet of whole wheat bread from the market, what we are essentially paying for is unrefined, unprocessed whole wheat. The bran and germ are the most nutritious parts of the wheat grain. They contain vitamin B1, B2, B3, E, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron and dietary fibre.

A majority of these nutrients are lost during the refinement process. Whole-grain foods are a wonderful choice because they contain nutrients like iron and calcium, apart from dietary fibre, which forms an important component of a healthy diet. Eating fibre-rich foods not only reduce the risk of heart disease but also controls blood pressure.

Multigrain means that a food contains more than one type of grain, although none of them may necessarily be whole grains, even though a loaf of bread may contain a variety of grains like buckwheat, millet etc.

Unless the label indicates that a product is made from whole grain, your multigrain bread may be made out of refined flour and missing the key nutrients found in the bran and germ. 

Though multigrain bread is all the rage these days, research suggests that whole wheat bread may be healthier for you. In fact, experts recommend that adults eat at least three servings of whole grain products.

One such study, published in the journal Circulation in 2016 suggests that the multiple bioactive compounds present in whole grain foods helped prevent conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, cancer, stomach conditions, poor skeletal health as well as disorders relating to the nervous system.

The high fibre content of whole grains also help in reducing oxidative stress and lower bad cholesterol production, and initiates better glucose response. Whole grains also contain magnesium, which is helpful in promoting insulin sensitivity and lowering blood pressure.

As discussed above, bran and germ are the most nutritious parts of the wheat grain. They contain: 

  • Vitamins B1, B2 and B3
  • Folic acid
  • Phosphorous
  • Zinc
  • Calcium
  • Copper and
  • Iron

Since whole wheat bread is not refined, most of these nutritious elements remain intact.

Whole grains take longer to get absorbed into the body: It takes the body longer to absorb whole grain products like whole wheat bread. The slower absorption rate prevents sharp rises in sugar and insulin levels. If multigrain bread is not whole grain, it gets absorbed by the body at a quicker rate and could spike insulin levels.

Whole grains have more dietary fibre: Dietary fibre is a crucial part of any weight loss regime. Soluble fibre slows down the digestive process, allowing the food to spend more time in the digestive tract and increasing the amount of nutrients absorbed into the body. Fibre also creates a feeling of fullness, making you less likely to over indulge. If you’re looking to lose weight, make sure to pick wholewheat bread the next time you are at the grocery store.

If you're looking to lose weight and build muscle, whole wheat bread is the safest and smartest food choice. Multigrain may sound appealing, but unless it is made with whole grains, it has the same nutritional value as processed white bread.

References

  1. Candela Paesani, Malena Moiraghi, Lorena Sciarini, Gabriela T. Pérez, Whole-flours from hard and soft wheat genotypes: study of the ability of prediction test to estimate whole flour end-use, Journal of Food Science and Technology, 10.1007/s13197-020-04658-1, (2020)
  2. Khairunizah Hazila Khalid, Frank Manthey, Senay Simsek, Centrifugal milling of wheat bran Cereal Chemistry, 10.1002/cche.10037, 95, 2, (330-341), (2018)
  3. INDRANI, D., SOUMYA, C., RAJIV, J. and VENKATESWARA RAO, G. (2010), MULTIGRAIN BREAD – ITS DOUGH RHEOLOGY, MICROSTRUCTURE, QUALITY AND NUTRITIONAL CHARACTERISTICS. Journal of Texture Studies, 41: 302-319
  4. Olagunju A. I. (2019). Influence of Whole Wheat Flour Substitution and Sugar Replacement with Natural Sweetener on Nutritional Composition and Glycaemic Properties of Multigrain Bread. Preventive nutrition and food science, 24(4), 456–467.
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