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Tips for Reaping the Benefits of Whole Grains

Here's how to select whole-grain foods and fit the recommended servings into your eating plan.
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WebMD Feature

Will the real whole grain please stand up? Scan the bread aisle and virtually every package touts some kind of nutritional whole-grain goodness. But few of them actually are whole grain.

We're surrounded by terms like multigrain, 100% wheat, cracked wheat, organic, pumpernickel, bran, and stone ground. These all sound like whole grains, but none of these descriptions actually indicate whole grain.

The amount of grains you need daily varies based on your age, sex, and physical activity level. You can determine how much you need by diving into My Pyramid Plan.My Pyramid Plan. "My Pyramid" sounds easy enough until you try to figure out what constitutes a whole grain.

WebMD got the skinny on whole grains along with suggestions on how to fit the recommended servings into your healthy eating plan.

Know Your Whole Grains

A whole grain contains all edible parts of the grain, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. The whole grain may be used intact or recombined as long as all components are present in natural proportions. To recognize whole grains, keep this list handy when you go to the grocery store and choose any of the following grains:

  • Whole-grain corn
  • Whole oats/oatmeal
  • Popcorn
  • Brown rice
  • Whole rye
  • Whole-grain barley
  • Wild rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Triticale
  • Bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Sorghum

 

Whole grains are not necessarily brown or multigrain or only found in adult cereals. They exist throughout the food supply, including processed foods.

Don't be misled by the manufacturer's claims on the front of the package. Color, fiber, or descriptive names on the package do not necessarily imply whole-grain goodness. Some manufacturers strip the outer layer of bran off the whole kernel of wheat, use the refined wheat flour, add in molasses to color it brown, and call it 100% wheat bread. That's true, but it is not a whole grain.

The only way to really know if a whole grain is indeed "whole" is to check the ingredient list for the word "whole" preceding the grain and recognize the above grains as whole grains. Ideally, the whole grain will be the first or second ingredient in the list, indicating that the product contains more whole grain than any other ingredient.

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