Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size

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.

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.

And avoid products that say "refined" whole wheat. Again, that's not a true whole grain and much of the health benefit has been stripped out by processing.

One simple way to find whole grains is to look for the FDA-approved health claim that reads, "In a low fat diet, whole grain foods may reduce the risk of heart disease and some forms of cancers." This is found on whole-grain products that contain at least 51% whole-grain flour (by weight) and are low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

Today on WebMD

vegetables
Video
Woman trying clothes / dress
Assessment
 
Woman looking at reflection in mirror
Article
Hot cup of coffee
Quiz
 
woman shopping fresh produce
Video
butter curl on knife
Quiz
 
eating out healthy
Article
Smiling woman, red hair
Article
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
thumbnail_woman_tossing_spinach
Video
lunchbox
Article
 
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
Article
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens
 

Special Sections