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.
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" 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
- Brown rice
- Whole rye
- Whole-grain barley
- Wild rice
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
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
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
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.