Nutrition Week: Whole Grains

March 5, 2014
Whole Grain Kernal

Nutrition Week: Day 3. You can call me the grain queen. I love grains, bread, oatmeal, breakfast cereals. Really any grain will do. Grains/carbohydrates tend to get a bad rap when it comes to weight loss. Grains can be a part of your diet, you just have to be mindful about how you are selecting them. The recommendation is that you  make at least half your grain whole grains. So how can we do that and what does that mean?

To do this it means making at least half of the 3-5 recommended servings a whole grain. One fun fact is that all grain start life as a whole grain, meaning they contain all three key edible parts. These three parts include the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. When a grain is refined to make white bread of white rice, the bran and germ are removed leaving the starchy endosperm. Without the bran and germ, 25% of the grains protein is lost, along with at least seventeen key nutrients. That’s a big difference. Processers add back some vitamins and minerals but the better option is still the whole grain product. The top nutrients in whole grains vary from grain to grain but most are rich in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese to name a few.

So what does 3-5 servings mean? The following are examples of a serving:
½ cup cooked brown rice or other whole cooked grain
½ cup cooked whole grain pasta
½ cup hot cereal like oatmeal
1 slice 100% whole grain bread
1 cup whole grain cereal

It can sometimes be challenging to actually find a true whole grain option. There are so many different terms out there- it can be very confusing. This whole grain table tells you what to look out for when trying to select a whole grain option. The table is from the whole grain council.


Words you may see on packages

What they mean

  • whole grain (name of grain)
  • whole wheat
  • whole (other grain)
  • stoneground whole (Grain)
  • brown rice
  • oats, oatmeal (including old fashioned oatmeal, instant oatmeal)
  • wheatberries

YES – Contains all parts of the grain, so you’re getting all the nutrients of the whole grain

  • wheat, or wheat flour
  • semolina
  • durum wheat
  • organic flour
  • stoneground
  • multigrain (may describe several whole grains or several refined grains, or a mix of both)

MAYBE – These words are accurate descriptions of the package contents, but because some parts of the grain MAY be missing, you are likely missing the benefits of whole grains.  When in doubt, don’t trust these words!

  • enriched flour
  • degerminated (on corn meal)
  • bran
  • wheat germ

NO – These words never describe whole grains


So as you can see grains can be a part of a healthy diet. It is important how you select them so here are some tips.
• Substitute half the white flour with whole wheat flour in your regular recipes for cookies, muffins, quick breads and pancakes.
• Replace one third of the flour in a recipe with quick oats or old-fashioned oats.
• Add half a cup of cooked wheat or rye berries, wild rice, brown rice, sorghum or barley to your favorite canned or home-made soup.
• Stir a handful of rolled oats in your yogurt, for quick crunch with no cooking necessary

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