We're sure you've heard about whole grains, and may think all of the hoopla is because of fiber. But whole grains and fiber are not equals, and the terms are not interchangeable. True, fiber is a wonderful thing. But whole grains are notable for so many other things - more than 20 vitamins, minerals, and other components too. Plus, their robust flavor and texture make them standouts compared with their refined counterparts.
What's a whole grain?
A whole grain kernel has three parts: the outer bran layer, the endosperm, and the germ. The bran is rich in fiber and antioxidants called polyphenols. The germ contains B vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc, and a dozen other vitamins and minerals.
Refined grains, such as white rice and white flour have been milled to remove the bran and germ. They're more shelf stable, but they lack valuable nutrients and fiber.
How do whole grains promote health?
These nutritional superstars may help you:
- Lower risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes
- Maintain healthy arteries
- Control weight
What do I need to know when choosing whole grain foods?
- Food labeled "whole grain" must be at least 51% whole grain by weight.
- Some food packages carry a "whole grain" stamp. These foods provide at least 8 grams of whole grain (the equivalent to a half serving of whole grains) or 16 grams of whole grain (a full serving of whole grains).
- Look for whole grain ingredients such as whole wheat, whole oats, brown rice, cracked wheat, whole cornmeal, and whole barley - as one of the first ingredients.
- Don't be fooled: The terms "multi-grain" and "100 percent wheat" may not always mean whole grain.
- It's about more than fiber. Some foods are high in fiber because they contain added bran: these foods aren't necessarily whole grain. And some whole grain foods aren't high in fiber but contain important nutrients and components you can't get from refined grains.
How can I get more whole grains?
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that at least half of your grain servings be whole grain, or at least three servings daily.
Here's how to get yours:
Start the day with whole grains, Tasty choices include oatmeal, Whole Grain Buttermilk Waffles, whole grain ready-to-eat cereal or Fruit and Nut Cereal Bars made with Total® Cranberry Crunch Cereal.
Try something new for lunch or dinner! less-common grains such as quinoa, triticale, amaranth, and millet are delicious, as in Oriental Stir-Fry with Millet and Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup.
The next time you crave the satisfying taste of grains, go whole. Because fiber is just the beginning.
The entire Big G cereal line is made with whole grains, making breakfast even healthier.