The whole story on whole grains

Many breads, cereals, crackers and even some cookies shout “WHOLE GRAIN” at us on their packaging. Some even list the grams of whole grain in big letters, and some use the word “wheat” in the name of the product, but what does it all mean?

Whole grains include grains such as wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, quinoa, sorghum, spelt and rye, but only when they are eaten in their whole form. If a product is made with “enriched flour,” even if it specifies “wheat flour,” that is not a whole grain.

Now here’s where it gets even trickier: while a product may claim it “contains” or is “made with” whole grain, unless the word “whole” (as in whole wheat flour or whole oats) is listed among the first ingredients, chances are it’s just a tiny bit added to justify the claim.

The Whole Grains Counsel, which maintains a website devoted to this issue, says we should be eating around 48g per day. For some examples, one slice of 100 percent whole wheat bread provides approximately 22g of whole grains, whereas a serving of crackers made mostly with enriched wheat flour, and a small amount of “real” whole grains, might give you only 5g of whole grain.

Now that you know how to find whole grains, do you know why you should be looking for them?

Research over the years has come up with some pretty cool reasons. How about:

  • Reducing your risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  • Lowering your chances of getting asthma and high blood pressure, and…
  • keeping inflammation at bay. It’s becoming more apparent that inflammation can be a key factor in tons of different diseases. So any foods that can reduce inflammation should be top on your list.

Plus, foods with real amounts of whole grains are much more delicious. And if you like a good old PB&J sandwich, try it on a nice slice of true whole grain bread next time. I bet you’ll never go back to a mushy white bread version again!

To learn more, visit the Whole Grains Council

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