First off, bread is made from grain kernels, and within grain kernels, are three parts—the (1) bran, (2) germ and (3) endosperm.
- The (1) bran and (2) germ are the nutrient rich and fiber-dense parts
- The (3) endosperm is the starchy, carbohydrate part.
Whole grains contain all three parts of the grain – the bran, germ and endosperm. By using the entire grain, the nutritional value is maintained.
Refined grains have been milled (ground into flour or meal) which rids the bran and germ, leaving only the endosperm. Without the bran and germ, the grain loses 25% of the protein and many vitamins, minerals and fiber… leaving the grain significantly less nutritious.
Whole grains contain many disease fighting phyto-chemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, iron and fiber. By choosing whole grains, you will not only reap the nutritional benefits, but also feel more full. Because whole grains hold much more nutritional value than refined grains, they significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Aim to get 3-5 servings a day.
If you are new to whole grains, start off slow and eventually, you will begin to love the heartiness and nuttiness in the whole grain products. My family started doing half brown rice with half white rice. Now we all eat brown rice!
Food marketers are tricky. Don’t be fooled, LOOK AT THE INGREDIENT LIST!
- For breads, the first ingredient should begin with the word “whole”. (ex: whole grain, whole wheat) If it begins with just “wheat”, it is made from refined wheat flour
- For rice, the first ingredient word should be “brown”
- For oats, you are getting “whole oats” no matter what!
“Unbleached wheat flour”, “wheat flour”, “Multigrain”, “Grain”, “natural” does NOT mean the product is from whole wheat! Some examples of whole grains are: brown rice, whole wheat breads and pastas, oatmeal, buckwheat, wheat berry and barley
Be sure to read closely when picking out your products. Even ‘Cheez-It Whole Grain’ have whole grains as the THIRD ingredient. It follows “Enriched Flour” and soybean and palm oil, meaning there is probably very few whole grains.
The best way to know you are getting whole grains, is to make your own dishes! Here are some of my favorite whole grain recipes: