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The Multigrain Myth: More Is Not Better


Seeing that America's food mantra goes something like "More Is Better," it's no wonder we've come to expect the same from foods claiming to be good for us. One such example is The Mighty Multigrain; for if more means better, multi must mean even better, right? And the fact that no such "multigrain" grows anywhere (yet... surely Monsanto is working on it!), this ubiquitous word found in our processed food options is a little suspect, yes?

There are multitudes of questionable foodlikestuffs available to us today that are quite a long way from their origins as plants or animals. Instead, they pass through factory processing and packaging, housed in billboardesque boxes, bags, cans and cartons, which all serve as a fairly strong indicator that what sits inside is not nearly as healthy as foods whose only packaging is peel, shell or rind.

And when it comes to grains, we know by now that we do best to seek them out whole, with casing and bran intact. But the processed food machine gave us another option when delivering the 'multigrain': a mélange usually consisting of corn, wheat and rice, sometimes as whole grains, but as it turns out, most times not.

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From the Organic Authority Files

Take Kellogg's Special K Multi-Grain Crackers. The product contains several whole grains including whole-wheat flour and whole oat flour. But it also includes refined rice flour, refined wheat flour and a number of unhealthy ingredients including (most likely genetically modified) soybean oil, modified corn and potato starch, maltodextrin and the controversial preservative, BHT (butylhydroxytoluene). Their Smart Start Multigrain cereal is no better, containing refined rice and 'oat clusters', whole grain wheat, more BHT, canola oil (with TBHQ for freshness), high fructose corn syrup, yellow #5 and a dozen other ingredients that either aren't or will negate the qualities of any whole grains present (which besides whole wheat, there aren't any).

Stacy's Multigrain Pita Chips, which are considered a healthy snack brand (owned by Frito Lay), are another disappointing popular multigrain snack. Although, they do contain whole wheat flour, and, according to the label, a whopping 2 percent or less of the following grains: Rye flour, crushed rye, corn grits, crushed barley, crushed oats, cracked wheat, millet and rolled wheat flakes.

Certainly there are quality multigrain products available. But keeping in mind it’s most often a divisive marketing gimmick aimed at boosting consumer confidence in a brand's feigned interest in their customers' health, the best way to multi your grains is to mix them at home, from scratch and skip the rest.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: theimpulsivebuy

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