Whole grains are an important source of energy, fiber, and micronutrients in our diets.
What exactly is a whole grain? Take wheat, for example. A kernel of wheat contains the bran (the high-fiber outer shell), the endosperm (the starchy inner portion), and the germ (the plant’s embryo, rich in fat, minerals, and B vitamins). Most wheat products are refined, meaning the bran and the germ are removed, leaving just the endosperm. As you can imagine, this refining process removes a lot of the important nutrients wheat has to offer.
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans include a recommendation for 3 to 5 servings of whole grains daily. Here are some examples of a serving of whole grains:
1 slice of whole wheat bread
1/2 cup of oatmeal (cooked)
1 ounce of whole wheat pasta (uncooked)
1/2 cup brown rice (cooked)
1 cup of whole wheat cereal
How can you tell if a product is whole grain or not? This can be confusing at times because of the different ways products can be marketed. Take bread, for example:
In looking at the ingredients list for breads, opt for products where the first ingredient is a whole grain (such as “100% whole wheat flour”). And it doesn’t hurt to check the fiber content of the product as well! 🙂
-Katy Hair, RD, LDN, CPT