When you want to make a ham and cheese sandwich, which bread do you use? Is it the boring, fluffy, white bread that gives you zero nutritional benefits aside from tasting yummy and can help induce a food coma? Or is it a healthier alternative you keep stored in your refrigerator in a situation where you have to choose between multigrain vs whole wheat bread, perhaps?

While we're all fairly aware that multigrain and whole wheat certainly sound like they're the bread options that are better for you, which one wins out over the other? In other words, in the debate over multigrain vs whole wheat bread, which should you put in your grocery cart to take home with you? 

To break this down, we've got to start at the beginning (obviously, a very good place to start). The only way to differentiate multigrain vs whole wheat bread is to understand their basic attributes.

What Is Whole Wheat Bread?

sandwich, bread, lettuce, tomato, cheese, ham, bacon
Jocelyn Hsu

So, what does whole wheat even mean anyway? Whole wheat refers to the whole wheat grain, which means that the whole grain must still include the endosperm, bran, and germ, and have not been "refined" or "processed" yet. This essentially means you're getting what you pay for: 100 percent whole wheat bread

What Is Multigrain Bread?

Meanwhile, multigrain is exactly what it sounds like: there are multiple grains in that bread loaf of yours. These grains can include wheat, barley, cornmeal, oats, buckwheat, flax, and millet. However, multiple can mean one plus one or 12.

And that doesn't mean that all the grains are whole grains. Some can be refined and stripped of their natural nutrients and fiber. You have to make sure that you check the ingredients list on the back of the label to see if the grains are 100 percent whole grains or not. 

Do They Taste Different?

Both are said to possess an "earthy" flavor that might deter kids from eating their crusts covered in seeds and grains. I know I was one of those kids. And depending on the ingredients, whole wheat and multigrain can taste bitter or even sweet if you add some raisins or cinnamon when baking. Their texture can also lean towards the moist side.

Which Is Healthier?

wheat, toast, bread, cereal, rye, flour
Aakanksha Joshi

Plain and simple: whole wheat bread is healthier than multigrain bread. Case closed on the multigrain vs whole wheat bread discussion. Because 100 percent whole wheat bread has the whole grain, nutrients like B Vitamins, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and magnesium remain intact with every slice you use to make yourself a PB and J.

Eating whole wheat, and thereby whole grain, bread also helps to lower the risk of a stroke, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and colorectal (colon) cancer. What's more, whole wheat bread also has an excellent amount of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber.

The main kicker hurting multigrain's chances is that multigrain bread's health benefits are really up in the air depending on which grains are used. Unless the label of the multigrain bread specifies that it is 100 percent whole wheat or 100 percent whole grain, it may still be made primarily from white flour.

You want to buy bread with a "whole multigrain" label instead, or with "whole wheat" or "whole-grain flour" listed first on the label's ingredient list. Then you'll know you're in the clear.

Are They Used the Same Way?

sandwich, bread, toast, ham
Jocelyn Hsu

So, do they differ much in usage? It's multigrain vs whole wheat bread we're talking about! Not much at all.

Use multigrain or whole wheat bread to make your next avocado toast with a poached egg on top, a sandwich to bring to your internship for lunch tomorrow, or to use for a slammin' grilled cheese. Better yet, scrap all those ideas and use these complex carbs to make French toast instead, because who doesn't love a good breakfast food at any time of the day?

So, multigrain vs whole wheat bread? Not much of a contest here. Whole wheat is the healthier choice, but multigrain need not be avoided entirely. Just make sure you read the label to know what you're buying. Remember: 100 percent whole wheat or whole grain. If not, that loaf is not going home with you.