Whole Grain 101
Learn about whole grains and why they matter.Shop Now
Whole grains, or foods made from them, have not been refined and contain the entire grain seed, or kernel, including the bran, germ and endosperm. Whole grains include wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, quinoa, sorghum, spelt and rye – when these foods are eaten in their whole, unrefined form.
Whole grains can be single foods, such as brown rice and popcorn, or ingredients in products, such as buckwheat in pancakes or whole wheat in bread. Whole grains are an excellent source of nutrients such as iron, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, and dietary fiber.
Refined grains are milled to remove the bran and germ to create a finer texture and longer shelf life. But the refining process also removes fiber, iron, vitamin E and many B vitamins. Enriched grains are grains products with added B vitamins and iron — most refined products are enriched.
Medical evidence indicates that that whole grains may reduce the risks of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity. People who eat three daily servings of whole grains reduce their risk of heart disease by 25-36%, stroke by 37%, Type II diabetes by 21-27%, digestive system cancers by 21-43%, and hormone-related cancers by 10-40%. Moreover, people who eat a regular diet with whole grains have a lower risk of obesity (as measured by their body mass index) and lower cholesterol levels.
The Whole Grains Council uses two stamps, the Basic Stamp and 100% Stamp, to indicate whole grain content.
A small amount of whole grain translates into big health benefits and is easy to add to your diet. For instance, 16 grams, or one serving, of whole wheat flour, equal about 1-½ tablespoons.