Explaining Whole Grains

Fiber, Water and Protein.  It’s been a filling week!  Today we are going to talk about whole grains.  There is a lot of confusion out there about whole grains, and most of it is the food marketer’s fault.  But I’m here to help you tell the difference between the real whole grains and the imposters.

What are Whole Grains?

Whole grains are grains in their purest form.  All grains start as whole grains, which is really the seed of the wheat plant.  This whole grain seed is made up of three edible parts:

  • Bran
  • Germ
  • Endosperm

The bran is the outer protective layer of the seed and is full of antioxidants, B vitamins and fiber.

The germ is the inner part of the seed, the part that can sprout into another plant.  The germ also contains B vitamins, minerals and protein.

The endosperm is the largest part of the whole grain and it’s the part that feeds the seed.  It contains starches and protein.

A whole grain will contain all 3 edible and nutritious portions of the seed: the bran, the germ and the endosperm.

whole grain

How are Whole Grains different from other grains?

Usually when the food manufacturers are making the food that we consume, they process or refine the grains.  This means they take away the germ and the bran, leaving just the endosperm portion of the grain in their foods.  Taking away the germ and bran take away most of the nutritional value of the grain, thus making refined grains much less nutritious than whole grains.

How do Whole Grains fill you up?

The bran portion of the whole grain contains a good deal of fiber, which is a filling nutrient.  To read more about fiber, check out this post.  Remember, the bran is taken away during processing so refined grains will not have the fiber and therefore will not have the filling effect that whole grains do.

How do I find Whole Grain products?

When shopping for whole grain products, ignore the advertising on the front of the book.  It is very misleading!  Words like wheat, 7 grain, stoned wheat and enriched wheat sound like they would be whole grains, but they are not.  In order to really tell if a product contains whole grains, turn the box around to the food label.

Look for the terms “Whole Grain” in the ingredient list.  One quick glance, and you will be able to tell.  If this “Whole Grain” is missing, it is not a true whole grain product, no matter what the front of the package says.

Today’s Challenge

Today’s challenge is to replace one refined grain product with a whole grain product.  If you already eat whole grains instead of refined, try a new whole grain today!  There are a bunch of different forms of whole grains out there you can add into your diet.

whole grains

Whole Grain Food List

Whole Grain Bread
Brown Rice
Brown Rice Pasta
Whole Wheat Pasta
Bulgur Wheat
Whole Wheat Flour
Oat Flour
Rolled Oats
Whole Grain Cereal
Whole Grain Corn
Whole Grain Sorghum (a neutral flavored cereal grain flour – gluten-free)
Whole Grain Triticale  (a hybrid of wheat and rye)
Whole Oats
Whole Rye
Wild Rice

Need Inspiration?

Breakfast: Whole Wheat Pear Muffins with Oatmeal Topping

Lunch: Brown Rice, Carrot and Ginger Cakes

Dinner: Farmers Market Skillet with Quinoa

Dessert/Snack: Peanut Butter and Banana Oat Bars

5 responses to “Explaining Whole Grains

  1. Pingback: Weekly Challenge: Portion Control | Fit 4 Me·

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