Whole grains contain:
- Bran (outer layer) – where the fiber comes from
- Endosperm (middle layer) – protein, carbohydrates and small amounts of B vitamins
- Germ (inner part) - trace minerals, unsaturated fats, B vitamins, antioxidants and phytonutrients
Enriched wheat flour is the endosperm that remains after the bran and germ are removed. The wheat is then enriched with iron and the B vitamins; thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folic acid, and often magnesium. Enriched wheat flour does not contain as much fiber, vitamins and minerals as whole wheat flour, although enriched wheat flour is more nutrient dense than refined white flour.
Did you know that whole wheat is a whole grain?
The Whole Grains Council states: “Whole grains or foods made from them contain all the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed in their original proportions. If the grain has been processed (e.g., cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded, and/or cooked), the food product should deliver the same rich balance of nutrients that are found in the original grain seed.”
This definition means that 100 percent of the original kernel – all of the bran, germ and endosperm – must be present to qualify as a whole grain.
The following are some examples of whole grains, but note you need to check food labels because not all of these ingredients are always whole (wheat is used sometimes in its whole form or sometimes in its refined form):
- Corn and popcorn, including whole cornmeal
- Brown rice and wild rice
How much whole grain to include in your diet
At least half of your total grain intake should come from whole grains (three to five servings/day). Children need at least two to three servings/day. One whole-grain serving equals 1 ounce, about the weight of:
- One slice of bread
- 1/2 cup (C) of cooked pasta
- 1/2 C of cooked hot cereal
- One serving of cold breakfast cereal
Let’s not get too tied up in how many servings, how many grams. Let’s just switch from refined to whole grains.Eric Rimm, Ph.D., researcher, Harvard School of Public Health
Gluten-Free Whole Grains
Amaranth, Buckwheat, Corn, Millet, Indian Ricegrass, Oats*, Quinoa, Sorghum, Teff, Wild Rice, Brown Rice
*Not all oats are gluten-free, check the packaging. Gluten-free oats should be limited to ¾ cup per day due to possible gluten contamination.