Fall is back. It’s time for the harvest. Grains. Corn. Potatoes. All the wholesome, delicious and hearty things we associate with cooler weather.
Whole grains in particular have been all the buzz in recent years. They bring many health benefits including lowering the risk of heart disease, (colon) cancer, cholesterol and strokes and more.
Whole grains defined: A whole grain is a grain that contains the bran and germ of the wheat kernel. These parts are bulkier, contain most of the nutrients of grains and give them their nutty flavor. Refined grains, such as while flour, only contain the endosperm (see the drawing below). The bran contains fiber, B-vitamins and trace minerals; the germ also contains B-vitamins and minerals. The endosperm contains carbohydrates and protein.
But be careful, you can be tricked! Given their plentiful benefits, the food industry has created a slew of labels terms to make people believe they are consuming whole grains, and something healthy. Terms like “stone ground”, “multigrain”, “12-grain” or “made with whole wheat” DO NOT connote whole grain foods.
Unless a product says “100% whole grains”, be wary. For example, “unbleached enriched wheat flour” is a fancy term for white flour. Similarly, “multi-grain”, while it sounds healthy, just means the item was made form multiple grains. The same goes for “12-grain”. When checking nutrition labels, each grain must have the word “whole” in front of it.
Another pitfall is assuming that because it is brown, it is a whole grain: false! Many manufacturers dye their breads brown because whole grains have this color. So, as always, check the label.
Here is a list of standard whole grains that you can look for the next time you head to the grocery store:
· Whole-grain corn
· Whole oats/oatmeal
· Brown rice
· Whole rye
· Whole-grain barley
· Wild rice
· 100% whole-wheat flour