Whole grains are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber to keep you fuller longer and promote a healthy digestive tract. Include more whole grains in your eating plan by learning about what they are and how to find them in the grocery store.
WHAT ARE WHOLE GRAINS?
Whole grains are foods that are made with the entire grain seed or all three parts of the grain: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran and the germ contain most of the fiber, vitamins and minerals, and the endosperm provides starch, which our bodies break down for energy.
Although each part is important, many refined grains are made with just the endosperm, the starch part of the seed. These products are often enriched with vitamins and minerals, but the fiber is often lost in processing. It is recommended that we eat 25 to 38 grams of fiber each day, but the average American only gets about half of that, so losing fiber through our grains can be concerning.
WHERE ARE WHOLE GRAINS?
Whole grains are found throughout the grocery store in breads, cereals, pastas, brown rice, popcorn, oats and even in the baking aisle in whole wheat flour and whole wheat bread crumbs.
You may think it is easy to spot whole grains in the store, but looks can be deceiving. Even if a food looks to be whole grain or is made with whole grains, that doesn’t mean it is 100% whole grain. So how do you know? Check the Nutrition Facts Panel and Ingredient List. These components of food packaging are tightly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so you know the information is accurate and credible.
For example, whole grain foods typically have at least 2 to 3 grams of fiber. Also, the first ingredient in the Ingredient List should have the word “whole” in it, such as “whole wheat flour” or “whole grain flour.” Ingredients are listed in descending order, so if whole grains are at the top of the list, then most of that product is made with whole grains.