Guide to Whole Grains
Whole grains contain all three parts of the grain kernel: the outer layer of bran, which contains fiber, B vitamins and antioxidants; the small inner germ, or embryo, which contains B vitamins, minerals and healthy fats; and the large carbohydrate-rich endosperm that supplies the growing plant with energy. Refining strips away the bran and germ, removing the fiber, B vitamins and iron. White flour and white rice are examples of refined grains. Enriched grains have some B vitamins and iron added back, but not the fiber.
In Search of Whole Grains
Eating whole grains reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes and helps with weight control. Whole grains are nutritious and contain fiber, which fills you up so you eat fewer calories. The US Dietary Guidelines recommend that at least half of all grains eaten be whole grains.
Finding grains that are 100% whole can be a challenge. Multigrain, stone ground, and “made with whole grains” sound healthful, but they may be a mix of refined and unrefined grains. Color can also be misleading. Not all dark bread is whole grain; some have molasses or caramel coloring added. White bread is made from refined flour, but there is also white bread made with white whole wheat flour.
The best way to spot products with whole grains is to read the ingredient list. Since ingredients are listed in order by weight, from most to least, the key is to choose products that list “whole” as the first or second ingredient. The guide below can help you find whole grains.
|Amaranth||Whole farro (semi-pearled has some of the bran removed)|
|Brown rice||Whole grain barley|
|Buckwheat (kasha)||100% whole grain cereal|
|Bulgur||Whole grain cornmeal|
|Millet||Whole grain couscous|
|Oats (rolled oats, old-fashioned oats, oatmeal, toasted oats cereal)||Whole grain or whole wheat tortilla|
|Quinoa||100% whole wheat bread or whole wheat bread|
|Spelt||Whole wheat crackers|
|Teff||Whole wheat pasta|
|Triticale||Whole wheat pita|
|Wheat berries||Whole wheat rolls|
|White whole wheat flour||Wild rice|
|Whole and/or Refined Grains|
|Made with whole grain; made with white whole grain (may contain whole grains and refined grains)||Stone ground (coarsely ground, not always whole grain)|
|Cereal made with whole grains (may also contain refined grains)||Whole wheat bagel (may contain whole wheat and refined wheat flour; check ingredients for 100% whole wheat)|
|Multigrain (several grains, usually not 100% whole grain)||Whole wheat blend pasta|
|Bagel||Noodles, pasta, spaghetti|
|Breakfast cereal (without “whole” in the ingredient list)||Pita|
|De-germed cornmeal||Wheat flour, enriched wheat flour, unbleached wheat flour|
|Flour tortillas||White bread|
Not sure what to do with whole grains? Try these healthy and delicious recipes by Shape Up America! Chef Joanna.
Roasted Pumpkin Quinoa (Quinoa)
Stuffed Pumpkin Granola (Oats)
Grilled Pita (Whole Wheat Pita)
Fusilli pasta (Whole Wheat)
Breakfast Treats (Rolled Oats)
Light Apple Crisp (Wheat Germ)
Farro Spring Salad (Farro/Wheat berry)