Know your Multigrain Foods - Is it a healthy alternative?

Know your Multigrain Foods - Is it a healthy alternative?

Multigrain biscuits and Multigrain breads

Multigrain biscuits and Multigrain breads are considered as the best food discovered by the current generation as a healthy alternate for kids snacks and family breakfast. A large section of urban Indian population is turning to everything “Multigrain” without the exception of Chapathis, Idlis, Dosas, Upmas, instant noodles, pancakes along with the most commonly used breads and biscuits.

Squapl Investigates:

We did a quick investigation (rather read it as understanding) of this so called super healthy food “Multigrain” which has got the permanent space in all the processed food products labels. Why multigrain suddenly got its significance and why people are sold by this idea. To understand this we need to go a bit back in time.

All baked items like bread, cookie and biscuits are all made with primary ingredient “Maida” or “All purpose flour” (no – nutrition, refined wheat flour) which is tagged as our super enemy (fact is it’s not really that bad, except it has no nutrition). Public awareness of this fact increased considerably giving a tough competition for the bakers. So a new innovation is born called as “Multigrain”. Now we are a happy society getting more out of food. Does it give the perfect end to our search of more healthy options without compromising our taste? Answer is yes and no. It depends on the bakers or manufacturers.

Understanding Multigrain:

What is multigrain? There is no set formula to term flour as multigrain. Combination of two or more flour is termed as multigrain. The choice of grains or the ratio in which it’s mixed does not have any standards. It’s up to the baker to decide their own version of the product.

Typical multigrain flour can have mix of any of the following grains to be part of it. Ingredients mix range from: corn, barley, oats and millets, including sorghum (Jowar), Finger millet (Ragi), Pearl millet (Bajra) and Fox millet. Legumes (Chickpeas, Soybeans and all Pulses or Dals) and seeds (Flaxseeds, Fenugreek seeds, Sesame seeds) all of these are part of multigrain mixes.

Is Multigrain Healthy?

Multigrain Breads

Answer to this is the tricky part. Multigrain is healthy depending on the way it’s made. The term Multigrain does not dictate how a multigrain is prepared.

If the multigrain have mixtures of “whole grains” (derived from the entire kernels) it is a healthy multigrain. Understanding what “whole grain” is important.

Whole Grain - Whole grain varieties provide the optimal amount of nutrients and fiber.  Whole Grains does not go through refining process. When grains go through the refining process, they lose their germ and bran portions of the kernels, stripping away most of their nutritive components.

Ratio and choices of grain in the mixture - Is very important to term a multigrain healthy. Different flours work differently on the digestive system in various seasons. Example- using ‘bajra or ragi’ in summer is not recommended as they strain the metabolism.

Multigrain is not for everyone, people with stomach issues cannot handle excess fibre. It might be laborious to their digestive system.

Reading the labels carefully:

There are multigrain biscuits (oats biscuit etc) sold on the counter from big brands with healthy tags but careful investigation of the nutrition table will show hardly 10% of the ingredient is healthy and rest is all ‘Maida’ or ‘All Purpose Flour’. Technically manufactures claims are true but it tricks the perception of consumers claiming as “oats biscuits”.

Multigrain ‘Atta’ major brands that sell multigrain ‘Atta’ typically have 90% ‘Whole Wheat’ and 10% are multigrain. Remaining 10% constitutes “Soy, Oats, Maize, Barley, Ragi and Chana dal’

Breads Made Of Multigrains

Multigrain Possible Health Benefits:

Multigrain’s  is sure to give dense texture and rich flavour in breads or cereals but as explained above it has to be “whole grain” Look for the label “whole“ in your packaging. If not whole the health benefits are minimal. If it says “enriched wheat flour” it has limited health benefits.

Multigrain Negative Impact on health:

High gluten content is considered as the major drawback.

Excess consumption can cause digestive issues or intestinal discomfort. Slow exposure is recommended.

Overall multigrain is a winner in terms of health benefit compared to the no nutrition Maida. Caution should be used to look into the labels of the packaging to understand what we buy, as many combinations are termed as “Multigrain”