Multigrain vs. Whole Grain Bread vs. Whole Wheat

multigrain vs whole grain vs whole wheat

When you compare multigrain vs. whole-grain vs. whole wheat bread, they may seem very similar. However, they are actually different when it comes to ingredients and nutritional value.

Multigrain vs. Whole-Grain Bread vs. Whole Wheat

When you see dozens of various bread types in a grocery store, it can be confusing to choose one that will be satisfying and delicious. Although all loaves of brown, earthy-tasting bread might seem the same at first glance, there are essential differences between multigrain, whole wheat and whole-grain bread. Let’s explore the variety of bread types and what they stand for so you can select a product you feel good about.

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What Is a Grain?

First, it helps to know a little bit about grains. A grain is a seed harvested from a grain-producing plant such as wheat or oat. A whole grain is an entire seed, which may also be called the kernel. A whole grain has three edible parts protected by a husk:

  • The bran: The bran is the outer layer of the seed. It is rich in fiber, B vitamins and antioxidants.
  • The germ: The germ is the embryo and the innermost layer of the seed. It can potentially sprout into a new plant. The germ contains protein, healthy fat, minerals and an abundance of B vitamins.
  • The endosperm: The endosperm is the middle layer and makes up the largest part of the seed. The endosperm contains protein, carbohydrates and a small number of minerals and vitamins.

Refined grains do not contain every part of the seed and are less nutritious than whole grains.

What Are the Different Bread Flavors?

In the United States, people eat whole wheat and multigrain bread the most often. Though the flavors and textures vary depending on the manufacturer, here’s a bit about each kind of bread and what makes them unique:

  • Whole wheat: Whole wheat bread typically has a soft, moist texture and nutty flavor with a hint of sweetness. It’s extremely versatile and can be used to hold a range of sandwich fillings, including peanut butter and jelly or melted cheese.
  • Multigrain: Multigrain bread typically includes a range of grains, so you can expect an earthy flavor and a texture similar to whole wheat bread. Sometimes, multigrain bread also has a slightly sweet taste to it like whole wheat. Multigrain bread can be used to make just about any sandwich. However, fillings like pickles or mustard can help balance its sweet, earthy flavor.
  • Whole grain: The flavor and texture of whole-grain bread depend on the types of grains used. For example, whole-grain bread might include whole flax seeds, which would lend a nutty flavor and grainy texture. Whole-grain bread makes a hearty base for egg and cheese sandwiches, creamy chicken salad or bacon with avocado.

Whole Wheat vs. Multigrain Bread

Wheat is another grain type. Thus, when we talk about 100% whole wheat bread, the loaf contains the entire grain of wheat and all nutritious parts as ingredients.

Multigrain bread contains various types of grains. You might find wheat, flax, barley, oats and even seeds in multigrain vs. whole wheat bread that only consists of one grain type. The word “multigrain” simply means there are several kinds of grains in the bread.

Whole-Grain vs. Whole Wheat Bread

Whole grain bread means the bread contains whole grains — typically wheat — and additional grains. This type of bread can contain any type of whole grain — barley, wheat, oats or a combination of these. However, not every grain in a loaf of whole-grain bread needs to be included in its entirety. It’s important to look at the ingredients list to see which grains are whole and which ones are not. Whole grains should have “whole” in front of them.

Whole wheat bread contains whole grains of wheat. In other words, it’s a type of whole-grain bread. When it comes to a choice between whole wheat vs. whole-grain bread, you can benefit from either! Any type of bread made with whole grains is the most nutritious option, whether it’s whole wheat or whole grain.

Whole-Grain vs. Multigrain Bread

Multigrain bread is made of several types of grains, some of which may be whole. In contrast, whole-grain bread contains the entire grain plus its three edible layers — the bran, endosperm and germ. Whole-grain bread may include a variety of grains and can also be considered multigrain.

comparing multigrain, whole grain, and whole wheat bread

How Is Bread Made?

Now that we’ve covered the differences between whole wheat, whole-grain and multigrain bread, let’s explore the breadmaking process. While there are various ways to consume whole grains, bread involves eating grains in their ground form. Instead of crunching on hard kernels, the breadmaking process makes it easier to chew, digest and enjoy the benefits of healthy whole grains.

What Are the Main Ingredients in Bread?

In general, any type of bread is made with flour, water and yeast. Water is used to turn the flour into a dough, while the yeast causes the dough to rise, creating the soft, fluffy bread we love to eat.

The flour is the ingredient that determines whether bread has whole grains in it or not. Flour is a powder made from grains that have been ground up during a milling process. Wheat is the most commonly used grain in the United States, with roughly three-quarters of grain products made from wheat flour.

The Breadmaking Process

To make bread, manufacturers typically take the following steps:

  1. They pour flour into a mixer and then add water and yeast.
  2. The mixer combines the ingredients and kneads the dough to form a certain consistency.
  3. The dough goes through a fermentation process, which causes it to rise.
  4. The dough is then divided into balls, shaped into loaves and baked.

The final step involves cutting the loaves of bread into uniform slices and packaging them.

The Common Types of Bread Flours

Here are the main types of wheat flour that are commonly used to make whole-grain, whole wheat or multigrain bread:

All-Purpose Flour

All-purpose flour, also called white flour, is refined wheat flour. Refined flour is the result of a milling process that removes the bran and the germ from the whole grain. It has a finer texture and longer shelf life than whole wheat flour but also has fewer nutrients. To replace some of the nutrients lost during the milling process, manufacturers might put certain ingredients back in, like B vitamins and iron. This creates an enriched all-purpose flour.

The ingredient list on the packaging should tell you the type of flour used and whether it’s refined, whole wheat or both. Since flour is the primary ingredient in bread, it will be the first ingredient listed. Some bread may be made mostly with white flour and contain just a small amount of whole wheat. For example, multigrain bread might contain 75% refined flour and 25% whole wheat flour.

Bread Flour

While bread flour is not specifically whole wheat or whole grain, it is commonly used to bake bread. It has a higher protein and gluten content than other bread flour types, helping bread to rise properly. This comes in handy for yeasted or artisan breads, which need a strong flour to provide more volume and a chewier crumb.

Whole Wheat Flour

Whole grain and whole wheat bread are made from flour that includes the entire ground-up wheat kernel. Whole-grain bread might also include other grains, though wheat is still typically the main ingredient. Any package that claims to use whole grains must contain the same proportion of bran, endosperm and germ as the pre-processed kernel in the “whole grain” ingredient.

Whole wheat flour can be considered whole grain because wheat is a type of grain. When you see “whole wheat” on a package, it means it contains all the wheat grain parts. However, if you only see the words “wheat flour,” you’re likely looking at a product that contains refined flour. Wheat flour is only about 25% whole wheat, and the rest is refined flour.

White Whole Wheat Flour

White whole wheat flour and regular whole wheat flour are made of the same components. However, red wheat is used in whole wheat flour, while the white variant comes from using hard white wheat. White whole wheat flour also contains the bran and germ of the wheat kernel, although in smaller quantities compared to regular whole wheat flour, giving the bread a lighter texture and milder taste. It’s a more nutritional alternative to all-purpose flour.

What About Stoneground Wheat?

Stoneground is not a type of flour but describes the method used to grind the wheat grains and make the flour for the bread. Stone milling is a traditional process that involves crushing entire kernels between stones. The first milling machine, which used stones to grind grain, was introduced in the late fifth century B.C. Modern steel rollers, on the other hand, press the grains and separate their parts. When manufacturers mill white flour, they keep the bran and germ separate from the endosperm. 

When they mill wheat flour using rollers, they rejoin the bran, germ and endosperm. Stoneground wheat usually means the whole grain is included in a loaf of bread, though you’ll still want to check the ingredients list.

What to Look for in Bread Packaging

A loaf of bread might claim to be whole wheat, but if it’s not the first ingredient listed, it could still be primarily made of refined flour. Here’s what to look for to ensure you’re getting whole grains.

The Whole Grain Stamp

The Whole Grains Council created the Whole Grain Stamp to help consumers quickly find healthy and reliable grain products. The symbol ensures that all the grain used in a product is whole grain. This means that if you choose whole-grain bread with this stamp, no matter the type of grains used, you’ll know each kernel is complete and nutritious.

the whole grains council created the whole grain stamp

Whole Grain Ingredients

Ingredients are listed in the order of the amount used in a food product. For example, if the main ingredient in a loaf of bread is enriched flour, it will be the first element listed. Use the ingredient list to show you exactly what you’re about to buy. 

For a loaf of nutritious bread, the first ingredient should include the word “whole.” If whole grain is listed as the second ingredient, it could be included in a large amount or a small amount — there’s no way of telling. If a loaf of whole-grain bread does not include the 100% Whole Grain Stamp, look for these words in the ingredient list:

  • Whole grain
  • Whole wheat
  • Stoneground whole grain
  • Oats
  • Oatmeal

The following words do not describe whole grains:

  • Enriched flour
  • Wheat flour
  • Bran
  • Wheat germ

Adequate Fiber Content

It’s important to consider the nutrition facts when shopping for bread, no matter what the packaging says. You should look closely at the fiber content for each serving. One slice of whole wheat bread can contain just under 2 grams of fiber, but there are whole-grain variants that contain 3 grams per slice.

Fiber has a lot of benefits, from lowering cholesterol levels to helping your body remove waste. Fiber may also decrease your risk of developing cancer and heart disease. If you’re trying to shed some pounds, adding more fiber to your diet can help you stay fuller longer and eat less. Eating fiber-rich bread can help you meet your daily requirements.

Sell Quality Wheat Bread From Gold Medal Bakery

Historians believe humans have been baking bread for at least 30,000 years. As you might imagine, milling and baking methods have changed over time and have led to a wide variety of bread types and tons of options. We bake high-quality whole wheat bread with whole-grain flour, making it a great source of fiber. Whether you sell whole wheat, whole-grain or multigrain bread, Gold Medal Bakery’s products have a delicious taste that your shoppers will love.

If you have more questions about the different types of bread or our private-label bread and co-packing services, please reach out to us at Gold Medal Bakery, where we’ve been baking the highest quality bread for over 100 years.

sell quality wheat bread from Gold Medal Bakery

Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the most commonly asked questions about wheat bread:

1. Is Multigrain Bread Whole Grain?

Multigrain bread is different from whole-grain bread. Multigrain bread contains several different types of grains that may not be whole grains. Whole-grain bread contains every part of a grain kernel, which includes the germ, endosperm and the bran.

2. Is Whole Wheat Whole Grain?

Whole wheat bread is whole grain because whole-grain bread contains all parts of a grain kernel, and wheat is a type of grain. Whole wheat bread contains all parts of the wheat grain kernel. 

3. Is Multigrain Bread Healthy?

Multigrain bread is generally considered healthy, provided its main ingredient is whole grain. Multigrain bread tends to have a lower glycemic index than white bread, depending on the grains it’s made of. However, not all multigrain bread is whole grain. If the first ingredient is wheat flour rather than whole wheat flour, it does not contain whole grains.

4. Does Multigrain Bread Have Fiber?

Multigrain bread does contain fiber. While it doesn’t contain as much fiber as whole-grain bread, it contains more fiber than white bread. In addition, if multigrain bread is made up of whole grains, the fiber content is greater and creates a nutritious bread type.

5. Does Whole-Grain Bread Have Fiber?

Since whole-grain bread contains all three components of the entire grain, it is an excellent source of three types of fiber. These include soluble fiber, insoluble fiber and resistant starch.

6. Does Whole-Grain Bread Have Wheat?

Whole-grain bread is any type of bread that contains the whole grain kernel. Whether or not whole-grain bread contains wheat depends on the type of grain it’s made of. Whole-grain bread can be made of various grains, including quinoa, corn, barley, rye, rice, triticale, millet, teff, sorghum and wheat. Whole-grain bread contains whole wheat if it is made up of the whole wheat grain kernel. 

7. What Does Split-Top Wheat Bread Mean?

Split-top refers to a technique used during the breadmaking process and does not describe whether the bread consists of whole grains. Split-top wheat bread may contain both refined and whole wheat flour. Bakers might split the top of a bread loaf before placing it in the oven to relieve tension and help the bread expand evenly. The technique, called scoring, may also be used for aesthetic purposes.


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Updated: 3/19/2024