Whole Grains Uncovered

Food labels use the words “whole,” ” refined,” or “enriched,” to describe the grain being used.  Grains come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from large kernels of popcorn to small quinoa seeds.  The healthiest of the three is whole grain.  It is unrefined, meaning it contains all three of its part: bran, germ, and endosperm.


Refined grains are milled, which removes both the bran and germ, giving the grain a finer texture and extended shelf life.  Eliminating two-thirds of the grain, the bran and germ, which is protein, nutrient, and fiber-rich, makes the product significantly less nutritious.


Enriched means some of the nutrients that were lost during processing were added back in.  If it has been fortified, nutrients that don’t occur naturally in the food were added.  Most refined grains are enriched, and many enriched grains are also fortified, with vitamins and minerals like folic acid and iron.  Although fortified gives a product more nutritional value, it’s always better to get vitamins and minerals through foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, or lean meats, which naturally contain them.


Whole grains are the healthiest of the grains because they contain higher amounts of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.  Listed below are several types of whole grain.


Types of Whole Grain Include:


·         wild rice

·         brown rice

·         whole wheat

·         oatmeal

·         whole oats

·         barley

·         whole rye

·         bulgar

·         amaranth

·         millet

·         quinoa

·         popcorn


Whole Wheat?  Whole Grain?  Multigrain?  They all sound healthy, but they are not the same.  If it doesn’t have the word “whole” on the package, it means it might not be made from the entire kernel.


Whole wheat is made from the entire wheat kernel, whereas whole grain can be made from any whole grain kernel, or just one.


Multigrain contains a few different grains, but it doesn’t necessarily mean any of it is from whole grain.  Whole grains and whole wheat are more nutrient dense, as they are rich in nutrients but low in calorie content, compared to empty-calorie foods, like sweets, candy, ice cream, and soft drinks.  Made with whole grain usually means made with very little.  If it says wheat flour, it has been refined, thus it is not whole wheat.


When choosing grains, read labels carefully and look for “100% whole wheat,” or “100% whole grain.”  Wheat, whole wheat, and 100% whole wheat all have different meanings and nutritional values.  Buyer Beware!


Learn more about which grains go well with other healthy food choices, by contacting Dan at (978) 807-8579, or visit seachangefitness.net.


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