Whole Grain 101
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Whole Grains, Whole Wheat, Multi-Grain, Wheat….. What’s the difference? What do they all mean? 

I talked recently about how shopping for Eggs was starting to be a rather exhausting task, understanding all the different labels while trying to find the best price. I mean, it really shouldn’t be this hard, right?

Well, these days shopping for bread and pasta isn’t any easier!! So many labels, so many claims, so many benefits, but are we really getting what we’re actually trying to buy? When I head to the grocery in search of bread and pasta, my goal is to buy 100% Organic Whole-Wheat. Why is that? It’s healthier! Whole grains, as opposed to refined or processed grains, have more nutrients, vitamins, and fiber, and the Organic part means it’s free from GMOs which are highly common in wheat and grains overall.

When grains are processed, 2 of the 3 components of grain are removed {the bran and germ}, leaving you with lots of calories and very little nutritional value {the endosperm}. I mean, if you are shopping for wheat bread or pasta, the idea is to be healthy, right? Then you need to make sure that you are actually buying the healthier option and not getting convinced by labels that multi-grain and whole grain are the same thing because they’re NOT! 

Let’s breakdown some definitions:

Identifying Whole Grain Products
What’s a Whole Grain? A Refined Grain?

Whole Grains: These are grains that contain all the essential parts {bran, germ, endosperm} and all naturally occurring nutrients. Oats, Barley, Wheat, Corn, and Rice, are a few examples.

Whole Wheat: This is a type of Whole Grain and means that the wheat is made with the whole grain {giving you the most benefits and nutrients}, which is the goal!

Wheat: If something is labeled as just ‘wheat,’ then this is where the grain has been processed or refined, and the bran and germ {2 of the 3 essential components of a grain} have been removed, leaving just the endosperm. Not the goal!

Multi-Grain: Means that the food is made with more than one grain, but it does not mean it is made with whole grains. Check the ingredients!

Enriched Grain: While processing or refining the grain, 2 of the 3 parts of the grain are removed, so with enriched grains, companies compensate by going back in and adding the missing nutrients. What’s so wrong with this? First and foremost, it’s not natural, and secondly, it is not as nutrient and good for you, and it never will be no matter how hard they try! 

So how do we make sure that we are buying the right thing?

  • Check the ingredients! Don’t even pay attention to the front label. Just go straight to the ingredients list. 
  • Less is more! Try to find foods with 5 ingredients or less. I promise it’s not as hard as it sounds!
  • Good Ingredients {Whole}: Organic Whole Wheat Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Organic Durum Whole Wheat, or anything with the word “Whole” in front of it. 
  • Bad Ingredients {Processed}: White Flour, Wheat, Enriched Flour, Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour, White wheat, Evaporated Cane Juice, Rice Flour, Brown Rice Syrup

Sources:

  • http://thefoodillusion.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/understanding-grains-corn-wheat-multi-grain-etc/
  • http://www.wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/what-are-the-health-benefits
  • http://livingawholelife.blogspot.com/2009/03/what-does-whole-grain-mean.html
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