Multigrain bread can be an important part of a healthy diet and an excellent way to eat more whole grains. Understanding the name is simple--“multigrain”--indicates the loaf should contain several different types of grains, which distinguishes it from whole-wheat bread. These grains may include oats, cornmeal, barley, wheat, millet, flax or others. The healthiest multigrain bread is still made with whole-wheat flour as its base, a distinction that is especially important to remember if you are purchasing it at the grocery store.
Buying Multigrain Bread
It is essential to study labels and nutritional information on bread you buy at the grocery store. If your store has a bakery, ask the staff if the loaf you are considering is 100 percent whole wheat or whole grain. All bread contains wheat and grain, so some breads that are marketed as “wheat bread” or “multigrain bread” have misleading packaging and may not be as good for you as you think. Bonnie Taub-Dix with the American Dietetic Association says to make sure to review the ingredients in multigrain bread you buy at the store. “The first ingredient should be whole wheat, and there shouldn’t be a lot of artificial colorings in the bread to give it the look of wheat bread,” Taub-Dix says.
Making Multigrain Bread
There are many different recipes for multigrain bread available, and some versions are even gluten-free. If you want a hearty bread that offers the most benefits nutritionally, make your bread with a base of whole-wheat flour and do not use white or refined flour.
To prevent your loaf from being too dense, let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place and make sure to allow it proper rising time.
Types of Multigrain Bread
In addition to various grains, multigrain bread may contain nuts, raisins or other additions. Choose a small, heavy, compact loaf if you are looking for a dense bread with concentrated flavor and a moist texture. If you want a more airy bread, select a bakery loaf or bagged loaf that feels light and is crusty on the outside.
Some people do not care for multigrain bread because it can have a strong, earthy flavor that is quite different from the blander taste of white bread. “The dark tannins in the wheat give it a heavier, sometimes even tending toward bitter, flavor,” says Cynthia Harriman, director of food and nutrition strategies at the Whole Grains Council.
Multigrain Bread in Your Diet
If you are looking to add multigrain bread to your diet but are not wild about the taste, try starting with a whole-wheat bread first or choosing a multigrain loaf with a lighter texture. Disguise some of the earthiness and bitterness in multigrain slices by toasting them and spreading on all-fruit jam or nut butter. Multigrain slices can also be used in bread pudding as a healthier alternative to sweet, rich breads.