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January 2018

Whole Grain, Whole Wheat or Multigrain?

Shopping for grain products at the grocery store can sometimes be overwhelming. There are so many varieties to choose from! Whether you’re looking for bread products, rice, crackers, or cereal, it’s important to make informed decisions. Here are some fast facts about some commonly used terms to describe grains.

  1. Whole grains contain all 3 layers of the kernel of the grain; the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. They provide more fibre, vitamins, and minerals because these grains are in their whole form.

  2. Refined grains are those which have had some or all of the bran and germ removed. Removing these layers reduces the amount of fibre, vitamins, and minerals from the grain. Refined grains include white flour, white rice, and whole wheat flour, among others. Refined grains are sometimes enriched, meaning that some of the nutrients lost during processing are added back to the product.

  3. Whole wheat flour products have been partially refined, but are still a good source of fibre and nutrients. To be considered whole grain, a whole wheat product’s ingredients list must state “whole grain whole wheat”.

  4. Multigrain products contain a variety of grains, as their name suggests, but are not necessarily whole grain. When these products include whole grains, it is often in small proportion compared to refined grains. Reading the food label and looking for “whole grain” ingredients stated early in the list (1st or 2nd) can help you choose!

Canada’s Food Guide recommends that we make at least half of our grain choices whole grains each day. Finding the right balance among a variety of grain products is the key. This means that whole grain and refined grain products (including whole wheat and multigrain items) can all be healthy choices for your family!  

Author: Melissa Frankel, Registered Dietitian