Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Multi-grain vs Whole grain

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Myth 21: “Multi-grain” is the same as “whole grain.”
What Dietitians of Canada says:
“Multi-grain products include different grains, but they may not always be whole. You’ll get the greatest health benefits from eating whole grains. To make sure a food is made with whole grains, look on the food label’s ingredient list for the words “whole grain” in front of each grain name. If whole grains are the main ingredients in a food, they should appear first in the ingredient list.”
What I say:
I don’t dispute anything DC is saying here. However, I think they’ve forgotten an important point. Just because a food contains whole grains does not necessarily make it a healthy choice. A number of cereals now tout that they’re made with whole grains. They even contain whole grain as the first ingredient. But you shouldn’t stop reading the ingredient list there. Let’s look at Lucky Charms as an example. The second ingredient on the list is marshmallows. The third? sugar. And what are the main ingredients in these marshmallows? “sugar, modified corn starch, and corn syrup”. This doesn’t seem like a great start to the day as far as I’m concerned. Young children don’t need as much food as teens and adults, would you really want to waste one of their precious whole grain servings on what’s essentially a fortified bowl of sugar? “Whole grain” can be better or worse than “multi-grain”. It’s important to read the whole label to get the whole picture.
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Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

2 thoughts on “Multi-grain vs Whole grain

  1. I’ve heard that whole grain bread is lower in calories than multi…true?

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    • Hi Costas,

      I don’t think that there is a hard rule for this, but I could be mistaken. Plus, you can have multigrain bread that is also whole grain. However, I did a quick check of a popular brand and the multigrain was 170 kcal per serving (2 slices) and the whole grain was 120 kcal per serving (2 slices).

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