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Grains have been a part of vegetarian diet for a long time. Huge populations around the world consume grains (most commonly wheat and corn). Most health experts agree that grains should be a part of our everyday diet. It is said that whole grains are healthy (there are also many who advocate anti grain diet). But, recently, these items have become popular all around the world.

Multigrain food items are prepared with two or more types of grain.These grains include barley, flax, millet, oats, wheat, etc.

Many recipes are being prepared. E.g: Bread, Flour, Rice, etc.

People are now using these items more thinking that the nutritional value increases if more grains are included in a food item. What are the facts? Should we mix them? What are the health benefits?

Are there any researches which shed light on health advantages and disadvantages of consuming multigrain items?

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    I am definitely interested in the answers for this question but I am not really sure about this being related to veg*nism. I am not voting to close, but could you perhaps add a veg*n angle to this? Perhaps as in 'are they a better source (than a single grain items) of nutritional sources that are often lacking in veg*n diets?'. Looking forward to this being answered though :). – Alexander Rossa Sep 1 '17 at 8:31
  • @AlexanderRossa I always thought grains are a part of vegetarian diet. I thought asking nutritional values about diet under nutrition is on topic. Also from vegan perspective, grains have some relation because many add them in their diet. Did my edit meet what you were looking for? – Nog Shine Sep 1 '17 at 18:01
  • Are you looking for scientific citations such as these ? ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078018 and ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4252459 ? The first is on whoe grain and the second does not fully answer your question, but before I search further I want to know it this is what you are looking for ? – Panther Sep 8 '17 at 15:28
  • @bodhi.zazen Yes, something like that. Comparison of nutrition levels of Multigrain Vs whole grain, advantages and disadvantages(side effects) of consuming multigrain food items. – Nog Shine Sep 9 '17 at 7:15
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What is a multigrain food item?

Here's the multigrain labelling requirements in Canada:

Multi-grain products require 2 or more grains to be present in an amount of 2% each or more. For the purpose of a multi-grain claim, the following are considered grains: Soybean, safflower, peas, corn, flaxseed, wheat, rapeseed, oats, mustard seed, barley, beans, buckwheat, lentils, rye, favabeans, sunflower seeds, triticale and cottonseed.

Note: there are different definitions of what counts as a grain in a botanical and culinary sense. Although flaxseed and buckwheat are not considered botanical grains, they are often used as grains in food production and in cooking.

So that's a lot of options, but which ones are actually common? I'll consider a few off-the-shelf loaves of bread from my favourite breadmaker, Silver Hills.

  • Organic Multigrain - oats, rye, barley (plus millet & quinoa which don't count)
  • Big 16 - oats, rye, barley, corn (plus millet, khorasan & rice)

So for the purposes of this analysis, let's consider oats, rye, and barley as being common ingredients in multigrain food products.

Comparing grains

According to the NCCDB, here's what is provided by 100 grams of flour made from several different kinds of whole grains.

             total protein (g)  lysine (mg)  fibre (g)  starch (g)
wheat flour              13.21          359       10.7        57.8
oat flour                13.15          637       10.1        57.9
rye flour                10.88          212       11.8        50.6
barley flour             10.00          366       16.6        54.3
spelt flour              14.57          409       10.7        53.9
millet flour             10.75          144        3.5        69.9

In all cases, the lysine content is slightly low. The reference profile for a complete protein has 51 mg lysine/g protein but these grains range from 13-48 mg/g. Because all grains are low in lysine, the addition of more grains does not compensate that weakness or make grain into a complete protein.

From a nutritional perspective, I would say that multigrain food items do not offer much benefit compared to foods made from a single grain.

Multigrain vs. Whole Grain

Multigrain products are not necessarily whole grain products. A multigrain product might be produced from multiple grains where the bran, germ, and endosperm has been removed. This would, of course, reduce the nutritional content of the food.

If possible, try to identify multigrain products that are also made from whole grains.

Ezekiel 4:9 bread

The preparation of Ezekiel 4:9 bread is described in the bible and may be one of the oldest multigrain formations still consumed.

Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself.

This is similar to the example multigrain bread given above (wheat and barley), but the beans and lentils are the real feature here. Beans and lentils are both high in lysine, and help make the bread into a complete protein by balancing the amino acid profile.

Further considerations

  • Some breads may be fortified or enriched with a variety of vitamins or minerals
  • Some breads may include seeds which substantially changes the nutritional content
  • Some breads are made from sprouted grains which are likely to have a different nutritional profile as a result of chemical changes within the grain

Conclusion

Multigrain bread is not necessarily better than whole wheat bread, and in some cases may actually have lower protein and lysine content due to the inclusion of rye or millet. Overall, most grains are quite similar and combining grains does more to affect taste than nutrition.

For a more balanced food, look for bread that includes non-grain ingredients such as seeds (especially flax) and legumes (beans or lentils).

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