Whole Grains: The Whole Truth

Why seek out whole grain products?

The outer layer of a grain is rich in fiber, minerals, vitamins and important phytochemicals like phenols. When a whole grain gets refined, however, it loses this outer layer. Even when manufacturers “enrich” their refined grains, they still don’t possess the full health benefits they once did.

If you choose whole-grain products, make sure the word “whole” is on the label. Multi-grain, seven-grain and bran breads are not necessarily whole-grain products. If the ingredient list on a wheat bread lists only “wheat” and not “whole wheat,” it’s not a whole-grain product.

Of course, there’s more to whole grains than whole wheat.

Get acquainted with some of the other whole grains:

  • Barley: Hulled barley is the true whole grain. Pearled barley, however, which loses both its outer layer and its bran layer, retains most of its whole-grain nutrients and fiber.
  • Buckwheat: If you’re allergic to wheat, buckwheat’s your answer. Kasha, or roasted buckwheat, is a great source of the antioxidant rutin, which benefits circulation.
  • Corn: Look for whole-grain cornmeal at the grocery store.
  • Millet: Very nutritious and easy to digest, millet makes a great hot breakfast cereal.
  • Oats: Easily digested, oats provide B vitamins. Oatmeal and oat bran are excellent for lowering cholesterol.
  • Quinoa: (keen-wah) A high quality protein, quinoa is also high in iron.
  • Rice: Choose brown or wild rice over enriched white rice whenever you can.
  • Sorghum: This ancient grain commonly used in Africa, and gaining popularity in the US, is sometimes compared to Israeli couscous. Try it in pilafs or add it to your favorite vegetable salads.
  • Wheat: Whole-wheat bread and pasta are widely available. Bulgur wheat is a form of cracked wheat. Wheat germ, although only a part of the whole grain, is an excellent source of Vitamin E.
Wheat Kernel Structure