Whole Grains


By: Nikki Nies

As the name suggests, whole grains consist of all parts of the grain—with germ, bran and endosperm still present.  If the product has been altered (i.e. cooked, extruded, shelled, cracked, crushed or rolled), to  be considered whole grain the 3 parts of the grain must still be present.

  • Bran: outer layer of wheat kernel; contains fiber and vitamins
  • Germ: nutrient rich embryo; grows into new wheat plant
  • Endosperm: makes up 83% of kernel; mostly composed of starch

Keep in mind, 16 g of whole grains equals 1 serving, with it recommended one consumes 3 servings of whole grains daily.  Look for the Whole Grain Stamp, see below, to ensure you’re eating whole grains, with every product that has the stamp consisting of at least 1/2 a serving of whole grains, at 8 g.


Difference between whole wheat and whole grain:

Whole wheat is one kind of whole grain, so all whole wheat is whole grain, but not all whole grain is whole wheat –Whole Grain Council 

Common sources of whole grains:

  • Amaranth—a complete protein; commonly used in muffins, crackers, pancakes, breads and cereals
  • Barley—contains tough hull that’s hard to remove without removing the bran
  • Buckwheat—produces pancake mixes, Japan’s soba noodles, Brittany’s crepes, Russia’s kasha; a cousin of rhubarb; thrives without chemical pesticides
  • Bulgur—result of when wheat kernels are boiled, dried, cracked and then categorized by size; most common from durum wheat; cooks in 10 mnutes since it’s been precooked and dried before packaging; commonly used in tabbouleh
  • Canary seed
  • Corn—popcorn and whole cormeal
  • Fonio–derives from West Africa
  • Job’s tears—a Southeast Asian grass; aka Coixseed, tear grass, Hato Mugi, adlay
  • Millet—commonly used for birds; leading grain in India; can come in white, gray, yellow or red color
  • Montina—all purpose gluten free baking flour blend and pure baking supplement
  • Oats—almost never have bran and germ removed during products; considered “old fashioned oats” when they have been steamed and flattened; contains beta-glucan, which has been found to lower cholesterol; contains avenanthramides, an antioxidant that helps protect blood vessels from “bad” cholesterol—low density lipoproteins (LDL)
  • Quinoa—diversely used in soups, salads, as a side dish and in baked goods
  • Wild, brown and colored rice
  • Rye—contains high amount of fiber in endosperm; generally has low glycemic index, which is ideal for diabetics
  • Sorghum aka milo—popular for animal feed; can be eaten as popcorn, used in porridge; brewed into beer
  • Teff—a North African cereal grass; main source of nutrition for 2/3 of Ethiopians, used for flatbread; sweet in flavor; can be used in porridge, baked goods, bread
  • Timothy hay
  • Triticale—a cross breed of wheat and rye; grows easily without pesticides and fertilizers
  • Wheat—including spelt, emmer, cracked wheat, wheatberries, einkorn, durum, bulgur, Kamut; contains gluten; 2 varieties: durum wheat for pasta and bread wheat

grainscomparedall2Benefits of the consumption of whole grains:

  • Lowers risk of chronic disease
  • Better weight maintenance
  • More ideal blood pressure levels
  • Reduced inflammatory disease risk
  • Reduced risk for asthma
  • With whole grains, one’s consuming fiber, may reduce constipation or diarrhea
  • When whole grains are fortified with folate, it can reduce the number of neural tube defects during pregnancy
  • Healthier arteries
  • Less gum disease
  • Less tooth loss

Sources: http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/definition-of-whole-grains





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