Demystify Whole Grains

Author: Shannon Miller

Healthy whole grain bread variety.

We always hear about “whole” grain and how important it is to our diet. However, the idea of whole grains can be somewhat intimidating.

How do we know if we’re eating whole grains and exactly what foods should we be including in our diets? The information below will help us demystify the whole idea and making the addition of this healthy grain simple and easy.

Bottom line: At least half of all grains eaten should be whole grains

  • Why are whole grains so important?
    • They help you to maintain healthy weight
    • They reduce your risk of chronic diseases
    • They contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
  • What are whole grains?
    • Whole grains consist of the entire cereal grain seed or kernel
    • Usually the kernel is cracked, crushed, or flaked during the milling process and when this happens the grain loses nutrients (these are refined grains)
    • Refined grains are then usually “enriched” to add back some of these nutrients plus other nutrients, however these are artificial and arguably “unhealthy” additives
  • How do I identify them?
    • Look for the word “whole” listed before the grain
      • For example: whole-wheat flour
      • Some whole grains have a standard of identity and don’t include the word whole such as cracked wheat, crushed wheat, and graham flour
      • The term “berries” or “groats” indicates a whole grain. For example Rye berries
    • Easy whole grains to add into your diet: Granola bowl: oats, rice, honey, peanuts, almonds, waxberry, white and red raisins, & strawberries.
      • Rolled oats
      • Oatmeal
      • Brown rice
      • Brown rice flour
      • Wild rice
    • Sometimes it’s good to know what something is NOT. Examples of refined, not whole grainare:
      • Flour
      • Enriched flour
      • Wheat flour
      • Grits
      • Corn flour
      • Rice
      • Couscous
      • Pearled barley
      • Scotch barley

Gradually add whole grains into your diet.

  • The ingredients statement on products MUST list the ingredients in DESCENDING order by weight (i.e. the closer it is to the first ingredient listed, the more there is in the product)
  • Check other ingredients BESIDES the whole grain – some manufacturers add whole grains to foods that otherwise aren’t good choices for the kids.
    • Some grain products contain A LOT Of added sugars (sucrose, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, or corn sweetener)
    • When possible choose these products less often
  • Buy whole grain based popular foods you and your kids already like
    • Pizza crust, breads, hamburger buns, pasta, meatballs, and breakfast foods (cereal!) are easy places to start introducing whole grains
Extra tips and tricks: For more information on this topic visit
If you found this article helpful, check out these related Shannon Miller Lifestyle articles:
Web Design and Marketing