What’s the Difference Between Whole Wheat and Whole Grain?

Credit: Crest Hill Bakery
Not all bread is baked equal.

I don’t know if it was just the 90s or me being a kid, but it seemed like back then, bread was just bread. These days, everything’s varying degrees of whole wheat and whole grain, and if you eat plain old white bread, everyone gives you the stink eye. C’est la vie. But as long as we’re on the topic, what exactly is the difference between whole wheat bread and whole grain bread, and perhaps more importantly, which is healthier?


Highly processed bread products are made of refined grains that have been treated and processed. As a result, they contain much less of grain’s primary components, along with its nutritional value. Whole grain bread only uses whole grains, which means the grains still have their three vital components: bran, germ, and endosperm. The presence of these components lends whole grain bread about 25% of its nutritional content, including fiber, B vitamins, carbs, and more.

Whole wheat bread is actually created on the same principle as whole grain bread, containing the bran, germ, and endosperm. The primary difference is that whole wheat bread is made only of wheat, while whole grain bread can be made of a variety of different grains like rice, oats, barley, or corn. Fun fact, multi-grain bread is made of a mix of those.

Credit: Simply Recipes

So if whole wheat and whole grain are made in the same way, what’s the difference, nutritionally speaking? Well, while whole wheat does provide the maximum nutrition from wheat, wheat itself isn’t the most nutritious grain. There’s good stuff in there for sure, but other grains tend to provide a wider variety of vitamins and minerals, and your body can always use more variety. If whole wheat is your only option, it’s a perfectly good option to take, but if you’ve got the choice between whole wheat and whole grain, go whole grain.