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What is the Difference Between Whole Grain and Whole Wheat?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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When it comes to the differences between whole grain products and whole wheat products, there may be some confusion among consumers. While there are many similarities between whole wheat and grain products, there are a few differences that could be very important.

One of the main differences between whole wheat and whole grain is the process that is used to prepare the grain flour. With whole-wheat flour, the grain has gone through a refining process that has removed some of the nutritional value from the end product. By contrast, whole-grain flour does not go through this refining process, and thus maintains the natural level of nutrients.

In appearance, whole wheat and whole grain products may look very similar. For example, it is very difficult to tell the difference between a cereal made with whole grains and a similar product made from whole wheat. The difference is sometimes easier to taste. Whole grain will have a slightly richer flavor than whole wheat, although both are very pleasing, and more tasty and nutritious than bleached flour products.

Whole grain breads are also different from their whole wheat counterparts. Generally, whole wheat loaves will be lighter in texture, almost as light as a loaf of bread made with bleached flour. Whole grain loaves of bread will have a denser texture, and often are considered more filling. The additional nutrients and fiber content often make it possible to consume less bread and still feel satisfied at the end of the meal.

Whole grain bread may have health benefits that are particularly important to persons who struggle with blood glucose levels. For people who are in a prediabetic state or are managing Type 2 diabetes with diet, products with whole grains may be a sensible source of complex carbohydrates. While containing as many carbohydrates as whole wheat or bleached bread, these products tend to create less of a spike in blood glucose levels, and absorb into the system with greater ease. While this is not universally true for all persons dealing with blood glucose issues, choosing a slice of whole grain bread over other bread options has proven helpful in managing a balanced diet while still watching blood sugar levels.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including DelightedCooking, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon314300 — On Jan 17, 2013

Where can I buy whole grain breads with low sodium? What supermarket or market sells this? Every known affordable super market does not sell whole grain breads, low in sodium.

By anon289204 — On Sep 03, 2012

It appears to me that the comparison being made is like comparing "apples to oranges" or to be more precise, apples to fruit. Grain is a more generic term than wheat. There are a number of types of grain including wheat, barley, millet, quinoa, etc. Therefore, there does not have to be any difference between whole wheat and whole grain. It is my opinion that trying to differentiate whole wheat from whole grain is like saying what is the difference between an apple and a fruit.

In fact, according to the U.S. government definitions for food labeling, "Whole wheat flour... is the food prepared by so grinding cleaned wheat ... The proportions of the natural constituents of such wheat, other than moisture, remain unaltered." 21 CFR 137.200(a).

By anon152734 — On Feb 15, 2011

OK people, look. This is quite obvious.

The article clearly defines the difference between whole wheat and whole grain.

The reason the difference needs to be defined is because people like us may not know, however, it should be clearly marked on any product if it is whole wheat or whole grain.

I would be skeptical of the stone ground products, because if it truly wasn't put through any refining process would it not be labeled whole grain? I personally believe it would be if it were, and because it is not labeled as such, I would treat it as regular whole wheat.

Now this is where the corporations start throwing everybody curveballs.

Take the pretzels for example. The company is allowed to call the pretzels whole grain as long as they contain some whole grain. This does not mean that it won't contain refined whole wheat or enriched bleached flour, but simply that it does contain whole grain.

The same is absolutely true of all whole wheat products. (Going back to the stone ground -- if it could be passed off as whole grain, I am sure it would be.)

Read your labels! Make sure it says 100 percent whole grain (or 100 percent whole wheat, but why would you want that now that you the difference?)

100 percent whole grain. Otherwise, it could be 99 percent white bread and 1 percent whole grain and still be labeled super healthy whole grain bread. Be vigilant.

By anon146691 — On Jan 27, 2011

Trader Joe's sells a "Whole Grain" pretzel product with the words whole grain huge on the package. However, in the ingredients list, the product is made from whole wheat flour and nothing is said about whole grain.

Your page seems to confirm that there is a difference between whole wheat flour and whole wheat flour that is also whole grain, eg. whole grain whole wheat flour?

It doesn't look like you are answering questions, which is what I am after.

By anon130428 — On Nov 28, 2010

how do you tell whole grain from whole wheat when you read the label?

By anon81425 — On May 01, 2010

When we come to the nutritional value, whole grain is much more nutritious than whole wheat due to the refining process.

No, we can't say that whole wheat is refined after stone ground. Brent, Oat Roller

By anon16569 — On Aug 09, 2008

Is whole wheat considered refined if it is stoneground?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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