“Multigrain” and “whole grain” are not interchangeable terms, even though we often use them that way. “Multigrain” simply means that a food contains more than one type of grain, although none of them may necessarily be whole grains. The same goes for other variations of this term, such as “9-grain” and “seven grain.” Whereas, the term “whole grain” means that all three parts of the grain kernel — the bran, germ, and endosperm — are used. Whole grain foods are a better choice when available because they contain nutrients, fiber and other components known to enhance health that are found naturally in the grain. Look for products that list the first ingredient as “whole wheat,” “whole oats” or a similar whole grain. Terms can get confusing since “whole grains” may signify one of many types of healthy grains, while the label “whole wheat” indicates the specific type of grain used. Either term may identify a food that’s a good source of fiber, several B vitamins, and minerals.
In order to be classified as “whole grain” the food must meet at least one of the following:
- Whole grains per serving must be at least 8 grams or more.
- The product must include the FDA-approved whole grain health claim on its packaging.
- The product ingredient list must state whole grains first.
It’s less important what type of grain you chose, whether it’s rye, wheat, oats, rice, quinoa, or another, but rather that it’s a “whole grain” source. Healthy adults should aim to eat 3-5 servings of whole grains a day as part of a balanced diet.
Edited by: Lindsey Traudt, LCPC