Although multigrain bread seems very attractive and nutritious, it should not be taken as a more healthy replacement for whole grain bread. Most multigrain breads resemble white breads more than they do whole grain breads.
In order to be labeled whole grain, a bread has to use the entire unrefined grain, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. Therefore, whole grains will contain the most nutrients and fiber. However, in order to be labeled multigrain, a bread need only contain more than one type of grain and these grains can be refined so that they are essentially white flours, having the bran and germ removed and containing only the starchy endosperm. Some multigrain breads have some whole grains speckled within the dough and sprinkled on the crust, which imparts some texture and presents the appearance of containing more whole grains. Depending on how they are made and what grains are used, these breads can be very tasty and still deliver a nice texture. If mostly refined grains are used, these flours will be enriched.
It is possible to find whole grain multigrain bread, as well. Usually, the principal ingredient is whole wheat with various other grains mixed in as whole grain berries and meals. For example, Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain 15 Grain Bread contains:
MADE FROM: WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, WATER, WHEAT GLUTEN, SUGAR, SUNFLOWER SEEDS, WHEAT BERRIES, YEAST, OATS, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: SOYBEAN OIL, PEARLED BARLEY, RYE, TRITICALE, SALT, CORN GRITS, SUGARCANE FIBER, CALCIUM PROPIONATE AND SORBIC ACID TO EXTEND FRESHNESS, BUCKWHEAT, MILLET AND AMARANTH FLOURS, FLAXSEED AND BROWN RICE MEALS, WHOLE QUINOA, SORGHUM AND SPELT FLOURS, MONOGLYCERIDES, DATEM, SOY LECITHIN, WHEY (MILK)*.
As you can see, there is no mention as to whether the grains other than whole wheat are refined or not and no mention of the percentage of whole grains is listed on the nutrition facts panel. Despite the fact that these types of bread contain a whole grain as their first ingredient, it is still entirely possible that the bulk of the grains are refined. However, the front label of the Pepperidge Farm product boasts “Your whole day’s worth of whole grain.” This would seem to mean that a serving of the bread, which is two slices, contains 3 ounces of whole grain. To put this in perspective, it is about equal to one cup of whole grain breakfast cereal.
There is nothing wrong with commercial multigrain bread, in general, and it makes a tasty alternative to white bread. Some products contain much more whole grain product than a typical bread made from refined wheat. However, be aware that they are not generally equivalent to whole grain breads or whole wheat bread.